The project consists of four new studios for The Djerassi Resident Artists Program, a place where visiting artists from around the world are provided room and board to concentrate on their work for an extended period of time. The property consists of over 600 acres of rolling hills, forests and meadows high in the coastal hills of Woodside, CA. The new building extends the existing campus over a meadow approximately 100 yards from the main building, which was originally a cattle barn dating back from when the property was a working ranch.
The project was conceived as a memorial to Diane Middlebrook, an accomplished writer and teacher, and late wife of program founder Carl Djerassi. Though the studios are designed to be used by artists of all disciplines, special attention was made to cater to the specific needs of writers, where quiet contemplation, free from distraction, is a welcome amenity.
The building itself is actually a cluster of four separate one-room studios, grouped together under a fifth structure, a free-standing steel canopy supporting a solar panel array over the eastern ends and pedestrian pathway connecting the four studios.
The siting of building takes advantage of uninterrupted views of the Pacific coast to the southwest, and the coastal ridgeline to the east. These views are captured within each studio by the strategic placement of doors and windows, where the distractions of the everyday movement of cars and people are unseen. This siting was also designed to address energy consumption by positioning the largest wall openings within the units to the southwest for passive solar gain, and by tilting the canopy roof plane toward this same direction in order to optimize exposure of the solar panel array.
The building materials are designed and selected to achieve the highest ratings for green construction, exceeding the recommended guidelines of the county of San Mateo’s “Build-it-Green” program. The exterior walls and roof are all FSC-certified clear cedar boards, laid out to follow the unique slopes and tilts of the roof and wall planes. Interior finishes consist primarily of materials collected from within the architects sample library to the effect of creating a patchwork pattern in the main room and bathroom floors, while the walls are kept simple and painted white, so as not to compete with the views beyond.