Parti Shot: Curveball by Feldman Architecture

Working largely on the West Coast, Feldman Architecture already faces some of the strictest building codes in the nation, but several years ago the firm decided to stretch even further by adopting The 2030 Challenge of carbon neutrality. And now with Curveball, a new home in the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel, California, the architects are attempting one of the most rigorous building standards there is: The Living Building Challenge. Says project manager Anjali Iyer, “Our personal agenda as a firm is to drive sustainability, and our clients want to be a positive influence on community.”

The Preserve is like-minded, with vast set-asides for land conservancy called “Wildlands” and much smaller sites allotted to development called “Homelands.” Even for buildable parcels, the guiding principle is subservience to the land.

The firm’s design preserves the most scenic aspects of its Homeland area, including a precious meadow, and places the house up against a steep hill. Says Anjali, “The design concept is of two curved volumes and one gently emerges from the hillside, minimizing the visual impact of the building on the land. They allow us to carve out a courtyard between these interlocking forms.” A small guest house will have its own courtyard, so each building has privacy and a different experience of the outdoors. 

With photovoltaics on the roofs, the house will generate its own power. Materials, including reclaimed steel, will be carefully chosen for fire resistance and sustainability. Water collection systems will reduce consumption well below targets. “We’re hoping to hit at least some of the petals,” Anjali says, referring to Living Building standard components. “As a firm, we want to be ambitious and push ourselves to try to reach it. It’s not just about the certification; we’re going to learn a ton we can apply across our projects.”

Carmel, California

Architect: Jonathan Feldman, FAIA, project principal; Anjali Iyer, project manager, Feldman Architecture, San Francisco

Builder: RJL Construction, Pacific Grove, California

Landscape Architect: James Munden, MFLA, Healdsburg, California

Sustainability Consultant: Phaedra Svec, McLennan Design

Structural Engineering: Doug Robertson, P.E., Daedalus Structural Engineering, San Jose, California

Project size: 5,437 square feet

Site size: 6.8 acres (Homeland: 2.1 acres)

Renderings: Feldman Architecture