When industrial designer Marc Tappeiner and his wife bought a 4,700-square-foot wedge-shaped plot in a residential Santa Barbara neighborhood, they wanted to demolish the existing two-story stucco house and build a new one for themselves (and, now, two children). Tappeiner knew he needed a creative solution for the awkward site, which had several zoning restrictions; he also wanted something that was open and naturally ventilated, craftsy yet contemporary, and that reflected his own minimalist design aesthetic. The couple reached out to Shubin Donaldson, a local firm known for its sleek Southern California houses and commercial interiors.

In founding partner and project lead Robin Donaldson, Tappeiner says he found “an architect who could do a house as he would his own”; in Tappeiner, Donaldson found an engaged client with whom he could have sophisticated discussions. “In a sense, we made design rules that we both agreed to,” Donaldson says.

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From early on, they decided to design the three-level, 3,000-square-foot house without drywall, and to limit the material palette to steel, concrete, glass, and wood. “The philosophy here was about taking things away until arriving at the essence,” says Tappeiner. Inside, these four elements are expressed in various ways: in some areas, the concrete structure is left exposed as walls and flooring, while in others, the braced steel frame is made visible through glazed partitions. Douglas fir–paneled ceilings are juxtaposed with shiny steel finishes. The steel is seen most prominently in a central staircase topped by a rectangular skylight.

Setback constraints and height limitations, city requirements for open space, plus the need to design around the sun’s path, drove the building’s stacked, cantilevering form, each level housed within its own separate volume. The exterior is clad with slats of Brazilian ipe, which wrap horizontally around the upper floor’s fully glazed sliding walls to screen it from the sun, and run vertically along the other volumes, functioning as a rainscreen. The slats also shield an outdoor patio on the main level.

After the form was articulated, the program was “plugged in,” according to Donaldson. “It was the inverse of our typical residential design process,” he says. Since Tappeiner wanted to take full advantage of the upper level’s expansive ocean views and breezes, the design team placed the kitchen, dining, and main living area in this space, and two bedrooms and a large sitting room on the floor below; a basement level, which houses a garage and family room, was excavated.

“I think that what made the house special was the synergy between Robin and myself,” says Tappeiner. “We’re both from California; we’re both similarly minded.” Donaldson agrees: “The mutual respect for each other’s design abilities really helped propel the process.”



3890 La Cumbre Plaza Lane, Suite 200
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: (805) 682-7000
Fax: (805) 682-7001

3834 Willat Avenue
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: (310) 204-0688
Fax: (310) 204-0219

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Robin Donaldson, AIA - Partner in Charge
Sieglinde Pukke, AIA
Liz Hughes, Architect
Kevin Moore, Architect
Kimberly Briolini

Architect of record:

Robin Donaldson, AIA



Structural:Taylor Syfan 684 Clarion Ct. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 T-24:

MEC 621 W. Micheltorena, Suite A Santa Barbara, CA 93101



Landscape Design: SD + Eric Nagelman

Lighting Design: SD + JMPE


General contractor:

Channel Island Construction



Jeremy Bitterman Phone: (971) 570-2020




Structural System

- Cast in place concrete floors and exposed concrete walls
- 2nd floor and roof: structural steel with concrete topping, metal decking,with steel brace frames and a few wood framed walls

Exterior Cladding

Rainscreen: Ipe wood slat screen on lpe furring

Wood: Ipe wood decking on pressure treated wood joists

Moisture barrier: Tyvek building wrap on wood framed walls


Built-up roofing: PVC-Class A roofing


Metal frame: Fleetwood aluminum windows and doors with insulated glazing units


Glass: Insulated glazing units with U-factor of 0.310 and SHGC of 0.54

Skylights: Custom skylight with insulated laminated glazing unit


Entrances: Fleetwood aluminum door with insulated glazing

JNL Glass Incorporated
618 E. Gutierrez St. Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Metal doors: Custom metal doors

Wood doors: Custom wood doors

Sliding doors: - Fleetwood aluminum sliding doors with insulated glazing units
- Interior: Custom barn doors

Upswinging doors, other: Crown garage door with hot rolled metal panel cladding and rigid insulation


Pulls: Custom hot rolled steel pulls

Interior Finishes

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Pat Carson Studio

Paneling: Douglas Fir veneer on 3/4" ACX

Plastic laminate: Wilsonite, white in kitchen

Solid surfacing: Caesarstone, color pure white

Special surfacing: Brushed stainless steel counter tops for kitchen and bathrooms

Floor and wall tile: - Wall tile in kids bathroom tub area and basement bathroom
4 x 12 gloss white, NS Ceramies
- Floors in showers
2 x 2 Ultra white, NS Ceramies

Special interior finishes unique to this project: Hot rolled metal panels


Chairs: Amsterdam Modern LA

Tables: Custom Walnut dinner table


Interior ambient lighting: - Custom recessed box fixture with USA light.com
Track lighting- line voltage- with black track heads and Soraa GU10 LED lamping

- Bathrooms: Pendant light fixtures
Hemera Cassis frosted glass cylinder with rod suspension

Exterior: - Custom LED fixtures, wall mounted
- Stair lighting behind wood screen: Acclaim LED flexible strip light

Dimming system or other lighting controls: Lutron Diva


Elevators/escalators: Dump waiter


- Hans Grohe faucets
- Duravit Starck toilets
- Duravit sinks
- Shower faucet: custom stainless steel in master shower
- Chicago faucets in other showers