The Gertler Residence 1970 / Ray Kappe

Architects: Ray Kappe
Area: 444 m² (4,775 ft²)
Year: 1970
Renovation: 2012
Photography: Michael La Fetra, Julius Shulman
Client: Leonard Gertler & Judith Gertler
Owner: Michael La Fetra
Program / Use / Building Function: Residential
City: Saint Monica
Country: United States

The Gertler Residence, a residential building designed by Ray Kappe in Santa Monica, California, exemplifies modern architecture tailored to hilly terrain. Built in 1970, this 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house uses eight redwood towers to support four redwood boxes with redwood and glass walls. Recent updates by owner Michael La Fetra include solar panels, modern appliances, and native landscaping, maintaining the home’s energy efficiency and environmental harmony.

The gertler residence 1970 / ray kappe

Commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Gertler, the house is located in Santa Monica, California. Architect Ray Kappe designed the home on a densely treed lot with canyon and treetop views from all angles. The structure’s foundation consists of eight redwood towers, supporting four redwood boxes with walls of redwood and glass.

Kappe’s design philosophy of creating warm, modern spaces with environmental sensitivity is evident in the Gertler House. The home’s extensive use of wood and glass integrates it with the surrounding tree-covered hills, making it feel like an extension of the natural landscape. The foundation was uniquely built around a eucalyptus tree, enhancing its connection to nature. The house is three stories high, with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, all constructed with redwood and glass.

Dense tree growth around the property provides significant privacy. The Gertler House mimics the surrounding alcoves of trees by using redwood towers for its foundation and was built around a eucalyptus tree.

Current owner Michael La Fetra has updated the home using historic photographs, Kappe’s notes, and blueprints. Modern updates include a kitchen with modern appliances and custom cabinetry, solar panels, built-in storage, a koi pond, a new spa, and a pool, all referencing Kappe’s original design. La Fetra also installed solar panels to ensure energy efficiency of the house, landscaped with native vegetation, and replaced the original eucalyptus tree with a native oak tree.

Two pool designs were originally planned but not installed. The more dramatic pool was constructed under the house, complemented by a koi pond on the public side of the property.

The gertler residence 1970 / ray kappe

The full-floor master bedroom includes a private rooftop deck with a fire pit and canyon views. This rooftop includes a seating area that is mirrored by an identical space below, centered around an outdoor fire pit.

The gertler residence 1970 / ray kappe

La Fetra also updated the media room with theater seating and transformed a closet into a customized liquor storage room.

The gertler residence 1970 / ray kappe

The home’s design allows enjoyment from within, around, and underneath its various parts.

The gertler residence 1970 / ray kappe
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Project Location

Address: 14623 Hilltree Road, Saint Monica, California 90402, United States

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