Googleplex architect thrives in the wide, open spaces

Googleplex architect thrives in the wide, open spaces
Architect Clive Wilkinson / © R. Daniel Foster

Architect Clive Wilkinson’s most famous work became known as the Googleplex. His own home also has a moniker, at least among his friends: Club Clive.

This is Palm Springs living in West Hollywood. A place for smaller dinner parties “and much more crazy ones,” he said. This is a party house — and soon to be Wilkinson’s former home, now that it’s on the market for $4.5 million.

Walls mean nothing to Wilkinson, a workplace pioneer best known for designing Google’s sprawling, city-like headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in 2005.

Since launching his Culver City-based firm 25 years ago, Wilkinson has blown open corporate cubicle culture with his nonconformist designs. He’s likened the boxy office chambers to “chicken farming” that are “humiliating, disenfranchising and isolating.”

He brought that same open-space floor plan mentality when building his own home in 2007, although his personal abode is less techie and more relaxing.

At his Norwich Drive property, he blasted away the walls and replaced them with glass doors, exposing the kitchen and living room to a slender 48-foot saltwater pool. Double-stacked oak platforms hover between the rooms, which visually extends the line of the exterior deck.

Surprisingly, the three-bedroom, 3,300-square-foot residence has the most nondescript exterior on the block. A stucco-smooth garage faced with rough-sawed cedar is the sole identifier.

Once you’re through the gate, a courtyard with olive trees transitions your eye to what lies ahead: an expansive glassed view of much of the house.

Long interested in intersections, Wilkinson, 61, employs an open design that demands free-flow interactions. Stepping up those platforms, the kitchen soars with its 20-foot height. Open both those wall-windows, and let the party begin.

“It was a big change in my thinking to not put the master on the second story to maximize views,” said the South African-born Wilkinson. “It was a lesson in Palm Springs living, to place it at the level of the pool, to shut out the outside world.” […]

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