Bill Bain & Cathleen Cox House,   Echo Park Studio RCL
Structural Engineer:   Lindon Schultz
General Contractor:   Greg Bravard


The clients for this unusual project included an L.A. zoologist, her husband, three very large dogs and a menagerie of uncaged multi-colored birds. Their existing house, nestled high in the hills of Echo Park, was dark, cramped and bursting at the seams. Edges of the bedroom floor, the kitchen table and two small offices were overflowing with assorted papers and books piled high in every corner; what they desperately needed was an addition which opened up the existing space, brought in light and air, which in turn would allow one of the existing offices to become a bedroom for the soon to arrive baby. RCL seized the opportunity to not only expand out from the back of the home but skyward. By opening up the rear of the house and extending the construction vertically, RCL created a three-story tree house, a tower of glass and natural wood to elegantly offset the lush tropical locale.

RCL designed a central stair of light running from the previously dark master bedroom to a roof terrace that later became a favorite spot for sleeping under the stars. From the main floor, the addition extended the master bedroom, added a generous and bright master bathroom, a library filled with light. The second level provided the much desired office space incorporating a panorama of the surrounding vistas, hills to the north, San Gabriel Mountains to the east, downtown to the southwest and both ocean views and breezes to the west. Balconies extending from each level and the rooftop terrace offer additional opportunities for light, space and comfort. Perched above the neighboring homes, the entire addition offers the perfect vantage point for bird watching and naturalist observations of nearby Elysian Park.

The addition adds 750 square-feet of interior space to the existing 1,800 square foot home. The clear fir craftsman style windows and doors all extend to the ceiling opening up the room to the sky. Recycled oak floors and built-in fir bookshelves add to the rich wood tones. The wood surfaces are off-set from the contrasting white walls by a thin silvery reveal of galvanized metal.

For a couple that regularly leads Amazonian bird-watching tours and are as comfortable in hammocks as beds, their new addition is a perfect compliment to their temperaments and needs, light drenched rooms, gentle breezes, expansive spaces that converge with the surrounding vistas, flora and fauna.