The Bel Air residence of director Michael Bay is a cinematic tour de force, capturing views of the city below and majestic valleys behind.
We approached this project with the spirit of creative exploration that Los Angeles is renowned for. From the work of Rudolph Schindler to John Lautner, to Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, we were inspired (and encouraged by our client) to push the boundaries of possibility in domestic architecture—conceptually, sculpturally, and structurally.
Michael Bay is known for incredibly powerful and explosive movies such as Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and The Island, as well as the Transformers film series. In counterpoint to this intense and active work life, his home is designed as a tranquil and serene sanctuary with elevation and perspectives across the city. Set across three levels and 30,000 square feet, the home accommodates an extensive program of residential suites, workspaces, a 50-seat private theater, a prop museum, and an eight-car garage. Pools on two levels—one measures almost 300 feet long—have a glass edge for uninterrupted views across the city.
To achieve this scale, while creating at once an intimate home and a beautiful object, we dug into the hillside. The entry procession begins from the drive court into a sunken garden, leading then to a central interior piazza and grand staircase. A sculptural approach to form and massing blurs the boundaries between classical and modern design, creating architecture that is universal and timeless. Scale, proportion, procession, and materiality are all finely tuned to create intense pleasure and delight.
The resulting forms are silent yet monumental, intimate yet grand. They speak to the physical environment with sweeping landscape staircases, reflective ponds, and views framed at a magnificent scale. This home evokes the minimalism of art galleries where the architecture recedes to hero the art—in this case, the views of Bel-Air and the life and rituals of the inhabitants.