“As soon as you arrived in the concrete courtyard on the east side and
entered through the front door, you were on a rusticated wood floor,”
Aidlin adds. “You saw, felt and perhaps even smelled the difference.”
Pine trees planted by Boy Scouts to reforest the west hill slope after
a similar fire during the ’60s made the building seem like a treehouse,
but the trees only added to the intensity of the blaze that took nearly
everything in its path, leaving behind a moonscape of white ash.
“We were in the city when the security system sent us an alert at 1 a.m.
that our country house was dying. The last signal said that the propane
tank was empty,” Rice recalls.
Only the pool, deck and built-ins at the south end of the building survived, along with the hedges and car court. “It is surreal,” Lau says. “One
part of the site where the swath of fire did not cut through is still lush.” The
intact sections will be reintegrated when the property takes shape again.
The floating roof above the
“bridge” section of the house was
cantilevered outward over decks on
the north and south sides to provide
shade for outdoor dining and seating. In one of the zinc-clad boxes,
Aidlin Darling designed a kitchen
that also opened to the swimming
pool, which survived the fire. The
pool is visible in the mirrored