drawing of framing and concrete
Leonard Olmstead had a unique problem.
As a painter of large oil paintings of nature on canvas
Leonard needed the room to be able to step back from the painting to see his
work from a distance. Leonard also needed room for his pink wing
fin thunderbird and his wife Mary's car.
So I came up with the idea of
a combination garage and studio.
There was room on the lot and we could
have built the structure without a variance if it had only been 10 feet wide.
We wanted at least twelve feet.
A variance would never have been
granted except for the fact that the original builder of the tract of houses
had been granted an administrative variance which allowed the house and garage
to be built closer to the street than would normally have been allowed due to
the excessively steep 1/2 of the lot.
After going through the variance
process the city of Los Angeles agreed to allow the art studio and garage to be
The structure of the house was similar in design by those of
Joseph Eichler, a Los Angeles area architect, but had been designed by students
following his design style. So the studio garage was designed to fit with the
The height of the roof of the house was the deciding factor on
the height of the structure and the height of the large clear plate glass
openings that faced to the north to allow good natural northern light for art
Northern light is reflected light so it does not have intense
transition of bright light to dark shaded areas. This makes diffuse northern
light ideal for the artist, in this case, large oil paintings of nature on
It was time for Leonard and Mary to change there living
conditions. For many years Leonard had been painting in the living room. Mary
had gotten extremely tired of awakening to the smell of oil paints in the
house. (Leonard liked to awaken early and work before dawn.)
original garage structure on the site was poorly built with a flat roof which
puddled water in the center. The puddling was caused by deflection of the
beams. The structure was a simple deck on beams structure, in this case 4" x
14" beams with 2" x 6" tongue and groove decking. The roof had only two beams
for a 20 foot span so the deck supports were at about seven feet on center. The
20 foot span that the beams spanned was too much. The beams had deflected,
bowed down around three inches.
New glu-lam constructed beams of this
depth would not have deflected nearly this much as these fifty year old timber
The new structure did use glu-lam beams to span between the
square tubular steel columns that supported the structure on the northern
window side. Due to earthquake codes we had to have grade beams all across the
front. The square tubular steel columns were embedded in the grade beams after
being bolted to deeper footings.
We used Tru joist floor trusses to get
the spans we needed to keep the floor open. The exterior was sheathed with
Several walls were shear walls so they had double sheeting a
sheet of plywood shear and the T1-11. A fellow graduate of Cal Poly, Ricardo,
did the structural engineering.
Leonard's property is unique at least
half is hill. As this structure was built within the city limits of Los Angles
it had to conform both to strict zoning ordinances and to strict building
& Garage - More Photos
Art Studio & Garage - Elevations
Art Studio & Garage - Plot
Art Studio &
Garage - Floor Plan
Studio & Garage - Grade Beam & Column Detail