Architecture is about being open to the discovery of the inevitable,” observes Los Angeles architect Steven Ehrlich. “You just listen to the logic.”
In Aptos, California, a quiet beach community just south of Santa Cruz, the inevitable came in the form of a corner lot, a breathtaking stretch of ocean, a neighborhood of intrepid walkers and a gregarious retired couple from Los Angeles with enough zest for life to relish it all.
“We were driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, and suddenly I saw a super stainless-steel-and-concrete house,” Leland Zeidler recalls of the first trip he and his wife, Marian, took to meet their architect. “So I made a U-turn on eight lanes. My wife thought I was nuts. When we got to Steven’s office, he told us he’d designed that house. He does some phenomenal work.”
Compared to its Mediterranean-style neighbors on the ocean bluff, the jewel-like compound that Ehrlich has designed for the Zeidlers is an exercise in sculptural simplicity, with subtle reverberations of Morocco and Japan. The two buildings—a two-and-a-half-story main house and a separate guest structure—align to form an interior courtyard with a lap pool and an outdoor kitchen, one of three outdoor spaces on multiple levels where the couple entertain.