House & Studio at Toro Canyon
Montecito, California

An 'elegant warehouse' in the tradition of Eames and Barton Myers' early houses, Toro Canyon deploys a series of innovative strategies to protect against wild fire while remaining open to its site, with spectacular canyon and ocean views.

Barton Myers' own residence, the house is comprised of four pavilions on three stepped terraces, carefully positioned to preserve the natural site landscape. A garage and guest house form the lower terrace, the main residence occupies the intermediate terrace, while the upper terrace holds a studio building. Each pavilion is an open, loft space, enclosed by glazed 'garage' doors, with an exposed structural frame and concrete floors. Clerestory windows provide mountain views and ample natural ventilation, taking advantage of ocean breezes.

To protect against fire, the pavilion roofs comprise a recirculating pool system, transforming the structures into a series of terraced reflecting ponds. Cascading from one pool to another, the water serves as for fire resistance and insulation, while the sight and sound of the water mimics the adjacent canyon creek. Coiled steel shutters protect every opening, providing additional insulation and sun control.

Russ Widstrand