In temperate La Jolla, California, a narrow building lot and a desire for a generous outdoor living area gave rise to the straightforward rectilinear motifs of the 5,300-square-foot Cresta House, a three-story coastal residence designed by San Diego architect Jonathan Segal for himself and his wife, Wendy. “The house wanted to be a pure form on this site,” Segal says. He conceived the cast-in-place concrete structure as an orthogonal volume, slicing and shaping rooms and functional spaces within and around it, and creating openings to maximize ocean views and daylight.

The residences in this upmarket enclave are nestled shoulder-to-shoulder. To use the 20-foot-wide lot efficiently, he shifted the house's footprint toward the back of the lot and submerged some 2,000 square feet of living space below grade. The concrete was cast using forms made of B grade plywood. “We weren't concerned with perfection; we wanted to see some texture and didn't patch the surfaces when the forms were removed,” says Segal.

Now the house is the couple's oasis from the downtown office of the family's architecture and development firm. (Wendy and Jonathan's son Matthew oversaw Cresta House's construction.) The subterranean level, illuminated partially by in-floor skylights, comprises a wine cellar, workout room, and TV room with a bar, while the ground floor contains the main public spaces, and the second floor holds bedrooms and an office. “We spend most of our time in the outdoor room,” says Segal, referring to the living spaces on the ground floor that open to terraces. “It feels private and serene, yet we can also hear the birds and ocean and feel a strong connection to the neighborhood when we sit out there. It's our urban house within a suburban context.”

Gross square footage: 5,300 sq ft

Total construction cost: $1,500,000

Jonathan Segal FAIA
3000 Upas Street
Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92104


Jonathan and Wendy Segal

Jonathan Segal FAIA
3000 Upas Street
Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92104

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Matthew Segal Project Manager (NOT a licensed architect)

DCI engineers

General contractor:
Jonathan Segal FAIA

Matthew Segal

CAD system, project management, or other software used:



Structural system
Concrete Malrkey Masonry Concrete Systems

Malarkey built up hot mop gravel roof

Western windows


Western Windows
Chris Puzio Metalworks

Interior finishes
Stan Jacobs Custom Woodworking
Carroll Metal Works Fabrication
Elara Tile


Huey Electric Lighting design

Frank and Walter Plumbing

Sun Power Solar Panels
Enphase inverters

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
KRC block brick pavers for courtyard.