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Home and Away: DesignAgency and Bestor Architecture

This past week I attended the “Home and Away” Lecture series at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Matt Davis (of DesignAgency here in Toronto) was the home. And Barbara Bestor (of Bestor Architecture in Los Angeles) was the away.

Both have completed some spectacular work. DesignAgency has really carved out a name for itself in the hospitality space with projects like the Broadview Hotel (Toronto) and the Generator hostel chain (global). And Bestor has completed a number of high profile corporate offices (Snapchat, Beats by Dre, Nasty Gal), as well as a home for Mike D (Beastie Boys) and some infill residential projects.

The project I’d like to talk about today is her residential project known as Blackbirds. It is a cluster of 18 homes in Echo Park, Los Angeles, which are built into the site’s hilly topography and centered around a shared parking/open space.

A few things are immediately interesting about this project. For one, I have been told that parking in Los Angeles is typically required to be covered. Here they managed not to do that and it allowed the center of the complex to become a more flexible communal space. The residents sometimes use it for dinners.

Secondly, the overall masterplanning of the site was done in a way that makes it feel like an organic collection of 18 homes, as opposed to a linear stacking of row homes. Apparently, Bestor managed to still get the same number of homes on the site and it greatly improved their marketability.

Lastly, I like how she plays with scale. Below is a section through three of the homes. But if you look at the roofline, you can see how it would appear as two homes from the street. These sorts of design techniques can be useful in striking the right balance between maximum density and a contextual design response.

For more events by the Daniels Faculty, click here.

Images: Bestor Architecture

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