It's probably safe to bet that most architects have designed their dream house—on paper, in their heads—many times over. Bob Hale, of Rios Clementi Hale Studios, was lucky enough to make one of his iterations a reality in Los Angeles's Cheviot Hills neighborhood. The three-story, 5,000-square-foot house replaced a 1940s structure that could not be adapted (Hale donated the scrap material to Habitat for Humanity).
Set partially into a hill, the new house's concrete-masonry lower level contains a separate apartment with its own entrance. “We wanted to think about it as multigenerational,” says Hale, who has two grown children. The main living spaces on the second floor are encased in glass and lead to a terrace and pool. But it's the third floor, which appears to float, that provides the poetry. This steel-moment-and-wood-frame level is wrapped in corrugated-aluminum panels with perforations that spell ahava—“love” in Hebrew. “We tend to not open the screens because it's almost like they're not there,” says the architect. “They read more like a cloud and create great shadows.”