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Not simply a deck but a fantasy environment for entertaining on the roof of a three story condo near the beach in Marina Del Rey, CA. Outrageousl… Read More
Not simply a deck but a fantasy environment for entertaining on the roof of a three story condo near the beach in Marina Del Rey, CA. Outrageously extravagant yet fundamentally beautiful and architecturally thoughtful. Read Less
Published:
The Deck
An adventure in outrageous environmental design.
"I'll pay you $100 bucks to get rid of this." Steve said, pointing at a sofa in the hallway outside my front door. I was just home from work and covered in drywall detritus. I found out later that Steve was a self made millionaire - started by selling cold cuts to mom and pop stores in Boyle Heights. Now the owner of the apartment building were I was living, next to the beach in Venice CA, and he needed my help. That's how this project simply started one evening in L.A..

Demolishing that one couch, which a tenant had left behind for him, led me to a plethora of unique opportunities. Steve liked the fact that I did what I said I was going to do. That was his main thing. His credo. He'd say, "Do what you said you're going to do and your life will change." Over and over. He became my mentor after I disappeared that piece of furniture for him.

"I need a deck built at my place. Can you do it?" was his next query and request soon there after. I said, "Absolutely! What kind of budget do I have to work with?" I never did get a direct answer. Instead I was grilled for an hour on a side street in Venice in his customized Mercedes. Then driven to a greasy spoon for lunch and interrogated for two more hours. It turned out to be a type of interview of sorts. Steve was an (Erhard Seminars Training) EST program graduate and - in retrospect - the attempted breaking down of my ego was how he did business. Eventually I was given carte blanche for the design of 'The Desk' after obviously passing the test.


What Steve probably didn't realize at the time was that I was fresh out of the Army from a particularly harsh and physiologically demanding tour of duty and any brain "enlightening" techniques gleaned from a quasi-spiritual leader paled in comparison to what I had already been through in basic training alone no less. Notwithstanding, I knew I was a good designer, I knew that I could build and this became a phenomenal opportunity. The next day I took measurements and started deigning and figuring.

Bare in mind that I was trying to keep costs down but with Steve it was always, "I like that,  can you do some special lighting?..." and, "by the way, I have a sauna that I want installed. It needs to be fixed too.", and "I want a barbecue with a sink. With hot water. Can you do that?"
"Oh, yes I can!" I would exclaim with confidence and unbridled enthusiasm. And indeed, I delivered!

This little project lasted three months, ten weeks longer than what I had initially planned for. But it was spectacular when finally completed. I did all the work except for the bending of the neon tubes that I took so much care in designing and which were so very wrong when (name withheld out of courtesy but every body knows who he is)  finally delivered them two weeks late. But you've got to roll with it, n'est pas?


The location is atop a three story condo in Marina Del Rey CA, a block from the beach. Ergo, the thematic water elements in the design.
The framing begins
The sauna is in place, the fiber glass surface is re-polished and it's now plumbed. Hired a sub to re-wire and fix the pump.
I'm using sustainable Cedar T & G paneling with redwood framing and decking materials. Cedar will turn gray eventually.
Engineered to withstand gale fores winds. The Pacific Ocean is one block that way ->
Detail: redwood bentwood bench
Ten weeks into the project, Neon lighting systems will be delivered tomorrow. Now Steve want's a barbeque.
Here ya go...replete with Marina Blue Pearl granite top, custom order fixtures, tiled sides with white oak trim, only $3500.00
Hamburger or hot dog? Did I mention that the custom Moen sink has hot and cold running water from the Kohler faucet?
The back-lit panels, above the dental molding, are 6x16x1.5" sealed 'fish tanks' filled with broken tempered glass.
18x192" reverse glass painting back-lit by neon (using a process I developed) atop a 6' stucco wall mural that I painted.
And there you have it... A five ton truck load of cedar and redwood lumber, 3000 deck screws, 50 linear feet of neon tubing, 4000 sq ft of tempered glass, 40 feet of copper plumbing, 20 spay cans of  car paint and three months labor.
~An outdoor private space that photographs really can't do justice.

I haven't single single-handedly done a project like that since. I got smart. I bought a clipboard and now I delegate and supervise (-:

Corollary:
Actually I did do one more 50 foot roof top redwood deck in Venice, CA soon there after. Not as flamboyant a design however. By the time I finished it, I swore off ever using redwood again for such frivolous projects because of its non-sustainable endangered rarity and lack of appreciation. It's a beautiful wood that was criminally squandered to near extinction in the 1940's - 70's. The take away lesson...pressure treated new growth pine is just as fine. Just stain it red, idiots won't know the difference and it's so much cheaper.

Note: there is only an estimated 3% of original old growth north western U.S. forest left. See for yourself - "Google Earth" over Oregon, It's a checkerboard of clear-cut heartbreak.