A prototype, hybrid design that integrates and combines two diverse building systems, an existing 1-story 1950’s bungalow residence and 7-20’ ISO containers in order to create a 3-story, 3 bedroom residence on a restricted hillside lot in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles for the least possible cost.  By stacking containers 2-high on a steel frame that sits outside existing walls, demolition is reduced to a minimum, thereby reducing costs, waste stream and hauling expenses, as well as minimizing code upgrade and compliance requirements.

The design incorporates many innovative and sustainable materials and building systems. A structural steel frame designed to resist earthquake and wind forces is erected above the existing roof, while protecting it and providing space for plumbing, electrical and mechanical access and to encourage air flow up and through the 2nd and 3rd floors of the container addition, thereby cooling the house by natural convection.  The addition adds 1,100 SF to the residence and includes a master bedroom suite, gallery, design studio and roof deck.  A perforated steel shade canopy is framed off the walls to reduce heat, glare and wind on the building.  Wrapping over the roof the frame and canopy it also provides support for living roof module, solar electric panel and access walkway placement that, in turn shade and protect the “cool roof”.


An environmental remodel of a 1-story, 1950’s bungalow in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. With a limited budget and zoning imposed setback restraints, the house could not be added onto, so it was remodeled to maximize spatial effect through innovation and the subtle, yet dynamic adjustment of light and geometry, in addition to the use of simple material finishes and reflective surfaces. For instance, the 2/12 roof pitch angle was strengthened visually and raised up by washing the ceilings with natural daylight from 9 ceiling beveled Velux skylights and recessed track lighting. The multiple, operable skylights coupled with prevailing westerly breezes and a misting system naturally cool all rooms throughout the year, as well as turning the roof into a 5th window-wall that makes the house seem larger than it is. The spatial impact is further enhanced by the simple use of floor to ceiling mirrors and opposed-wall mirror applications to create infinity spatial effects. Furthermore, skylights are placed in such a way as to optimize daylight and ventilation, as well as integrate into a roof-mounted solar array. Employing an adaptive-reuse strategy, existing 1950’s materials and finishes such as, ceramic tile counters, cement plaster walls, slab-on-grade floors and alum. sliders are integrated with Caesar stone countertops and floors, plyboo cabinets, FSC hardwood floors, insulated skylights, drywall ceilings, R=40 rigid roof insulation systems, as well as water conserving water closets, fixtures, dishwashers, tankless water heating and energy efficient appliances.


A 340 acre spa and full-service, destination resort located in the Mojave Desert, is conceived and designed to demonstrate state-of-the-art sustainable architecture and recycling innovation with a hybrid design approach in the use of pre-engineered building and passive solar systems. It integrates the use of solar heating and cooling using evaporative cool towers, natural daylighting and ventilation, shade structures and water harvesting, storage and conservation systems into the facility design. Recycled and repurposed materials and building systems, such as ISO containers, quonset or steel vault shading enclosures and fabric, tipi-inspired lodging facilities will create a strong branding identity. The spa demonstrates an unique environmental design response to a hot, arid desert environment that will attract visitors from around the world. In addition to 11 lodging units, the first phase will includes therapy buildings, a fitness center and spa building.

SOLAR SPA, a natural bathing oasis with 5 temperature-zoned, cascading, natural pools is located on the side of a mountain overlooking Joshua Tree National Park and the high desert with spectacular sunsets. The spa features 4-40′ high containers repurposed as evaporative, down-draft chimneys to naturally cool the desert air to 80 degrees in summer, while wafting gentle breezes over bathing and lounging areas. In addition, the towers act as columns to support a shade canopy to further reduce glare, heat and wind and create an oasis-like environment. Solar panels shade other spaces for bathers to relax under, as well as to track the sun and generate power for the spa equipment and lighting.

RECEPTION BUILDING, the spa resort administrative building and check-in facility has an inside and outdoor dining area and is covered by multiple steel shade vaults punctuated by 4-40′ high cargo containers that provide natural evaporative cooling throughout the 3-story high covered space. Openings between vaults encourage natural ventilation using a venturi-effect, as well as offer protected views of the surrounding desert landscape.

TIPI CLUSTER, the lodging retreat for spa visitors is conceived and designed using a hybrid design approach. A typical cluster consists of separate sleeping, bathing and lounging elements that open into the desert landscape. Repurposed, recycled ISO containers for bathing, outside lounging and storage are plugged into an eight-sided tipi module which is covered with an adjustable fabric shade structure for summer cooling and glare control. Container module roofs are covered with solar electric and solar hot water panels to power and heat water for the cluster while the walls are shaded with perforated panels to reduce heat and glare. Tipi clusters sleep four.


A 1-story structure that contains a painting and sculpture studio for 2 established artists had to be squeezed-in behind the garage in a suburban rear yard outside Pasadena, CA. As an accessory structure in the code, height limitations and building setback constraints dictated the building size, roof heights and geometry. In order to maximize studio heights at 15 ft. and optimize daylighting opportunities, each 500 SF studio uses open bar joist roof framing to enhance the height effect and the placement of 4-22″ dia. solatube sun tunnels for even daylight distribution. Natural light levels are controlled by hand with dimmers and then balanced with energy efficient fluorescent and metal halide track lighting to compensate for the constantly changing light temperatures throughout the day. This is an important design consideration for an artist, especially a painter. The studios have north facing, operable clerestory windows to control glare, as well as eye fatigue since they open out to beautiful views of the San Gabriel Mountains. Vertical, steel pivot windows can be fully opened manually for natural ventilation. Roofs are single-ply “cool roofs”, floors troweled concrete for low-cost and easy maintenance and studio walls are painted drywall to maximize light reflectance and facilitate ease in mounting artwork.


A retrofit of the pool and restaurant facility at the 29 Palms Inn was developed to expand the dining and bathing area, as well as to reinforce structural damage caused by a recent earthquake. An outside dining shade canopy and the 5 cabana/shower modules are covered with solar electric panels to power the entertainment facility. Five cabana modules are staggered to the west in order to open the pool and dining compound to natural breezes from the oasis, as well as to offer views of nearby mountains in Joshua Tree National Park. In addition, the north-facing, staggered walls are naturally lite, yet shaded to form an outside art gallery space for displays by local artists, as well as provide the backdrop for dining and music entertainment.


A combination hillside restoration and residential remodel in the Hollywood Hills was necessitated when a recent hillside failure caused the local building department to yellow tag the residence. After bids for conventional hillside remediation using concrete cassions and tie beams came in over budget, an innovative and unique soil-nail stabilization system was designed saving the owner over $150,000. The system uses 1″ dia. steel tendons drilled into the hillside 5′ apart and then tying them together with a heavy wire mesh, an innovative system developed in Germany and used throughout Europe, but never before accepted or permitted in Los Angeles for residential applications. The project 2nd phase involved stabilizing front yard slopes using staggered retaining walls, as well as reframing, finishing the front façade and entry and replacing all windows, doors and roof. Interiors were renovated, including the kitchen and bath with all floors replaced with a prefab, pre-finished oak flooring.


An urban mixed-use recreation center located on Russian Hill in the heart of San Francisco is one of the most popular and heavily utilized parks in the city. Part of the emerald neckless of green spaces in North Beach the existing blacktop playground was redesigned through an interactive community participation process and weekend workshops led ecotech design and supported by the San Francisco Dept. of Parks and Recreation. The park addressed multiple local stakeholder’s interest in a bi-cultural, artistic community of young and older people and which included area needs for: children’s play, sports for teens such as handball and basketball, urban farming and gardening for families, walking and jogging, meditation and reading.


The Integratron is a unique, phenomenal structure located in Landers, CA. It is the creation of George Van Tassel and based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions form extraterrestrials. It is a 38′ high x 55′ diameter domed structure constructed entirely of wood with no mechanical connectors and was designed as a human rejuvenation machine. Today, people from all over the world visit to experience it’s healing effects and to take sound baths conducted by the owners. Celestial and music evening events are celebrated during summer months and, in order to accommodate visitors, ecotech design developed a master plan that included: an assembly amphitheater, restaurant and outdoor dining areas and 16, one and two bedroom units. All sleeping spaces will be passively cooled and protected from solar heat and glare by earth berms, with evaporative towers cooling outside patio areas naturally. All electricity is to be generated with solar panel arrays located on each unit.


A solar residence and photo studio located on a remote high desert site near Joshua Tree, CA were designed using earth berms for protection against prevailing southwest winds, solar heat and glare. Evaporative cool towers brought cool air into a large shaded outdoor patio area for summer use. The structures were designed with pre-engineered steel buildings to reduced costs and construction time. Solar electric arrays located on south facing roofs provide electricity, though the system is grid-tied and uses net metereing with Southern California Electric.


For budget reasons and to reduce site coverage, the design was revised to put a two-story living unit under a pre-engineered steel roof canopy that encloses the 22′ high photo studio space. Using a Butler Building steel building system, the roof was extended to the north and past the building line to shade and protect outside living spaces, while an evaporative cool tower, repurposed and recycled from a 40′ long ISO container directs cooled desert air into the patio areas. Solar panels provide electricity and solar tubes natural daylight to all interior space, thereby eliminating excess glare and heat from windows and skylights.


An award-winning design for a single family residence in rural Lyme, CT, this cluster of pre-engineered ag-tech buildings that plug-in to and add-on to each other was inspired by the architecture of local, family-run farms and farming which thrived as the primary economic resource until the 1950’s. Farms expanded outward as barns, outbuildings, storage sheds, silos, etc. were added on as the farm and its spatial needs grew over time. Used and discarded vehicles, equipment and buildings were either recycled or just became part of the local farm waste stream that expressed the rural American landscape for over 200 years. The residence incorporates a 34′ diameter geometric dome as the living center with a recycled school bus backed into the kitchen and renovated as the dining space. A locally manufactured, 36′ high Unadilla silo encloses mechanical equipment, 2 bathrooms and a roof level spa with commanding views of the Connecticut River Long Island Sound. A Butler grain bin is recycled to become the work studio and storage building. Recycling off-the-shelf building components is not only a tradition in New England, but still is one of the best ways to reduce costs.