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Where Art and Life Intersect

Zahid Sardar | October 8, 2014 | Story

When confronted with 8,500 square feet of space spread over four floors and two buildings, one might imagine a handful of apartments, maybe a sprawling corporate office building. Architect Julie Dowling saw the perfect commute.

In this Cow Hollow compound, she and her husband, art adviser Steven Platzman, seized upon “an opportunity to do everything at one address,” Dowling says. That meant a home for the couple and their nine-year-old daughter, Sofia; a studio for the practice Dowling runs with her twin sister, Leslie, a fellow architect; and Platzman’s exhibition space, Addison Fine Arts—all rolled into one.

but the original 1959 building looked very different from this seamless white box. The structure floated awkwardly above an open carport that provided access to a ramshackle 1907 earthquake cottage in back.The decorative facade was marred by layers of plaster, wood, mosaic tiles, and metal grills.

Channeling her modernist heroes, Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Dowling converted both buildings into open floor plans decked with white paint and white lacquered cabinetry. she replaced the original facade with smooth white lime stucco and wrapped the gutted cottage out back—Platzman’s exhibition space, office, and library—in warm cedar siding.

The restrained palette highlights negative space and Mondrian-esque shadows. Juxtaposed against a stark white backdrop, city views through the living room’s floor-to-ceiling windows seem like vivid paintings.

A 15-foot-long wooden footbridge leads from the new lobby to Platzman’s gallery, and an elevator rises from Dowling’s second-floor architecture studio to the family’s penthouse. The design cleverly integrates two unusually configured buildings. “That was key,” says Platzman. “While we each have our own office, it’s comforting to still be within calling distance.”

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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