This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views

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By Jenny Xie / Published by Dwell
Architect Jonathan Segal and his son Matthew Segal built the Cresta to capitalize on Southern California’s balmy climate.

As far as cities with ideal climates go, San Diego ranks at the top of the list. The seaside metropolis enjoys moderate temperatures and sunshine year round, conditions that are primed for the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. When local architect Jonathan Segal set out to build his dream home for himself and his wife, Wendy, in the beachfront community of La Jolla, he took advantage of the temperate conditions to construct a residence that completely opens up to the natural setting. The Cresta, constructed of cast-in-place concrete, is a rectangular form carved out to allow the Segals to spend most of their time outdoors.

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 1 of 7 - In a neighborhood where houses are much larger and stand in close proximity, the Cresta is shifted toward the back of the lot with around 2,000 square feet of living space placed below grade.  

In a neighborhood where houses are much larger and stand in close proximity, the Cresta is shifted toward the back of the lot with around 2,000 square feet of living space placed below grade.  

Set in a suburban context, the narrow lot necessitated creative planning. Matthew Segal, Jonathan’s son and the project manager for the build, explains, "The intent was to maximize the potential for square footage inside and outside and make the house feel larger than it is." The resulting three-story residence is 5,300 square feet including a subterranean floor that holds a wine cellar, gym, and entertainment room with a bar. The ground floor is comprised of communal living space, and the second floor has bedrooms and the office.

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 2 of 7 - "It's perfect year round," says Matthew about La Jolla, "and you don't want to be inside."

"It's perfect year round," says Matthew about La Jolla, "and you don't want to be inside."

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 3 of 7 - Several factors allow the house to depend nearly wholly on the solar array on the roof for power: windows that completely open for cross ventilation, the thermal mass of concrete, sun shading, and the pool's insulating effect.

Several factors allow the house to depend nearly wholly on the solar array on the roof for power: windows that completely open for cross ventilation, the thermal mass of concrete, sun shading, and the pool's insulating effect.

Though the four corners of the rectangular building remain intact, a courtyard serves as an exterior room that introduces a volume of open space within the larger form. "The outdoor room gives you the security of being inside, but in the same respect you’re enjoying the smell and noise and every aspect of the ocean being right there," says Matthew. The living room features a Western Window Systems Window Wall and Multi-Slide Door, allowing the family to peel back the glass partitions to merge interior and exterior space.

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 4 of 7 - The upstairs bedrooms and office have views of the ocean and courtyard due to Window Walls by Western Window Systems. "They gave us leniency on the sizing of everything," says Matthew. "They'll make sure it works."

The upstairs bedrooms and office have views of the ocean and courtyard due to Window Walls by Western Window Systems. "They gave us leniency on the sizing of everything," says Matthew. "They'll make sure it works."

"The outdoor room gives you the security of being inside, but in the same respect you’re enjoying the smell and noise and every aspect of the ocean being right there." 

—Matthew Segal

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 5 of 7 - Multi-Slide Doors by Western Window Systems retract and allow the living room to enjoy the offshore breeze. The pool extends along one side, allowing the homeowners to feel as though they are floating over water.

Multi-Slide Doors by Western Window Systems retract and allow the living room to enjoy the offshore breeze. The pool extends along one side, allowing the homeowners to feel as though they are floating over water.

"[Western Window Systems] has been really great for us," says Matthew. "Their product is durable, withstanding the ocean. Their timing has been very accurate—when they commit to a date, they commit to a date." With construction streamlined to take just nine months, the Segals appreciated the efficiency, reliability, and flexibility of the company, which provided custom sizing of the grand windows.

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 6 of 7 - Though the house is made of interior and exterior volumes, the vertical walls and roof planes maintain the four corners of its rectangular form.

Though the house is made of interior and exterior volumes, the vertical walls and roof planes maintain the four corners of its rectangular form.

To further connect the dwelling to its environment, the team designed a reflecting and swimming pool that wraps around the front and side of the Cresta. "It creates a sense of floating over the water," says Matthew. "It connects to the texture and sound of it with beautiful reflections and inherent natural qualities." 

This Architect's Home Embraces Oceanfront Views - Photo 7 of 7 - The fountains installed in the pool contribute to the sound of the nearby ocean and the sense of being in nature.

The fountains installed in the pool contribute to the sound of the nearby ocean and the sense of being in nature.

Offering privacy as well as the freedom to commune with the ocean setting, the Segal residence epitomizes California’s outdoor lifestyle. Watch the video below to hear Jonathan talk about the home: