Summitridge Drive

Whipple Russell Architects as Architects

The Summitridge house is a creative collaboration between architect Marc Whipple and Troy Adams of Troy Adams Design, who served as project manager and interior designer. Both enjoyed the process immensely, and this distinctive house is certainly evidence of a successful partnership.

It all begins with the land and its orientation to the views. The property is a flat hourglass shape on top of a ridge with steep slopes on two sides, so the shape guided the positioning of the house. It has a beautiful view to the west on the left, and looking down to the south, of canyons and the city.

Marc: To get a viable house on that unusually shaped site, with height restrictions and setbacks, was the challenge. The design is not rectangular, it's not a traditional L-shape, but it works. In order to fit on the ridge, the whole plan had to be skinny, which means from inside the views are right there, wherever you are you’ve got big windows and great views from both sides.

The dramatic footpath approach to the front entry entices a visitor up past bubbling ponds, affording a striking view of the entire four level house, the city, and hills below, all at once.

Troy: What I like about the architecture is that many of these custom high-end homes have no motor court and no driveway, so the second you open the gate, you're almost at the front door. This design gives you the experience of taking in the whole estate before you actually get to the entry door.

Marc: Solving the long, skinny site problem created an opportunity for many levels and spaces, to accentuate the horizontal with long, straight lines. It’s definitely modern with lots of glass, but with warm, romantic finishes inside and out.

The path continues past the glass footbridge that leads to the guest house rooftop terrace, and on up to the main house. The first view of the house reveals the long modernist horizontal lines highlighted in contrasting light and dark tones - a Marc Whipple hallmark. The three primary exterior finishes are Pietra Gray slab marble, bronzed metal panels, and smooth white plaster. The bronzed material is an aluminum composite called Alucobond.

Beyond the glass pivoting front door, this house provides resort style living with multiple entertainment areas, outdoor terraces, and the highest quality interiors and detailing by Troy. All furniture has been custom designed and built. The property is about 1 acre, and contains a sculpture garden–also called the dog park–down the slope. The four levels can be accessed by a glass elevator.

Marc: At slightly over 10,000 square feet, it’s on the small side for these high-end homes these days, so, it's going to live intimately. It's just a spectacular property, and definitely has a resort hotel vibe to it. Everything is on site, it's private, yet has views.

Troy: Our theme for the entire house was a residential boutique hotel that was geared for entertainment, for parties, for a nice stay for yourself and your friends. We felt that there should be a variety of different areas and moods. There's probably five or six great spaces for people to be; down playing poker, or in the humidor room, up on the roof in the spa. There are fire features and seating everywhere. At a party, some people like to go off to a romantic and peaceful area, and not be with the rest of the crowd, and this property really lends itself to that.

Another goal was attention to detail. The two were committed to using the finest materials and the highest level of craftsmanship in every room.


The entry and living room set the tone, and the color palette for the house of black, white, and shades of gray. The front door is 60” wide and 16’ tall, admittedly the largest we or Troy have ever attempted. The face is clad in a starfire back-painted glass, and then capped all the way around with a bronze metal. Pale gray flooring flows beyond the rooms onto the patios.

The double-volume entry space with high-set ribbon windows brings a play of light through the area, which holds a piano, intimate sofa with chair seating, and a small wet bar nearby. The bar features a biometric fingerprint reader that raises it up and down using a motorized lift.

Troy: We had an artist, Alex Turco, do the painting of two lips on the back wall of the bar. It's very subtle, but when you stand back far enough you can see it. The lighting fixture in the front entry is made with many OLED lights together, to create the shape. It’s made in France by a company called Blackbody. We wanted an organic shape, it breaks up everything being too angular in the space. They sent two Frenchmen, and it took them two days to install the fixture.

Powder Room

We want our powder rooms to be a real treat for guests, whether they are jazzy and bold, or tranquil and elegant. This one, with lighting available in any shade, does not disappoint. The powder room wall is painted to look like marble, by the artist Alex Turco.

Troy: The sink front is mirror high-polished stainless steel, and it reflects the mirror glass walls with acid etching. We wanted a really sleek look with stainless steel cabinets, linear pin lights throughout, then this beautiful white agate sink and backsplash.

From the entry area there is an open view across the dining room, kitchen, and family room to the city below. The dining room wall treatment is a custom-dyed sycamore wood veneer from Italy, given a high-gloss lacquer finish with polyurethane that is used throughout the house. This layering creates an iridescent material that reflects light differently through the day, warming to an orange glow in the evening light. Troy employs this layering effect on the dining room ceiling as well, starting with a leather-like material, and then finishing with the lacquer.


The centerpiece of the open kitchen is a long island capped in marble. The desired effect was a “waterfall”, for the veining pattern to match perfectly, as it went from the top surface down the sides. The kitchen cabinetry is the same sycamore veneer used in the dining room, and the custom kitchen is from a German manufacturer called Studio Becker.

Sliding glass walls open the kitchen, family, and dining areas to the patio, with lots of outdoor seating opposite the two-sided fireplace with video screen. There is a dining space and outdoor kitchen by the zero-edge infinity pool. Infratech outdoor heaters are used above, in the overhangs.

Humidor, Wine, and Poker Rooms

The lower level is where guests can find some unusual entertainment possibilities, starting with the cigar lounge and a wall-sized glass humidor. The humidor system has been stocked with a selection of the finest cigars in the world, and is opened with another biometric reader. A fingerprint scan opens the glass case, and a motorized lift slides the glass panel up and retracts it to reveal the cigars. Also in the room is floor to ceiling wine storage, and a full wet bar of marble. Right next door is a dedicated card room with a custom poker table, and a nine-panel video screen. Window walls can be opened up to the patio and the view.

Troy: Whenever you're building around high-end cigars, there's only one type of wood specified that won’t contaminate the cigars with odors or moisture, and that's Spanish cedar, so that is the ceiling material.

The lighting for the cigar lounge and poker room are circular lamps from a company in Germany called Henge.

Troy: Everybody loves these lights, and it was really a chore to get all of those stems cut into the bronze ceiling without denting or damaging the panels. This was one of the hardest jobs in the project.

Also on the lower entertainment level is the theater. Sofas are upholstered in a soft gray fabric, with darker gray walls. The step feature with recessed lighting can be lit with any color combination.

Primary Bedroom Suite

On the second floor is the primary bedroom suite, featuring warm wood flooring, and a ceiling of the same sycamore veneer, with a high gloss finish that creates a mirror effect. The sliding window walls open up to a private terrace and the magnificent view. The same marble, Pietra Gray, found on the exterior was used to create the fireplace.

The bath is a duet of amenities–there are two water closet rooms, two vanities, and two showers. Above the vanities are custom-beveled angled mirrors with a stainless steel framing, which are revealed to be television screens when turned on. The adjoining closet and dressing area features a center island with another biometric reader; the owner uses their fingerprint to activate the lift to reveal a custom safe, which includes watch storage with an auto-winding system. The island’s sides are covered in distinctive stingray skin, and every drawer is lined with felt. All the other cabinetry is treated with a high gloss polyurethane lacquer in gray.

At the other end of the house on the main level are the three bedroom suites, which also enjoy a magnificent view of downtown Los Angeles and Century City. One of the suites has a bar, refrigerator area, and a marble fireplace. The bathtub is a Victoria + Albert tub from England, painted in a matte black for contrast. The other two bedrooms have en suite baths as well.

Tucked into a marble alcove on the lower level is a row of exercise equipment by Technogym. The treadmill, cycle, and other pieces face the views and the breeze. After a workout, it’s time for a sauna experience. The sauna was done in a Thassos White marble, and is close to both the main pool and the outdoor gym. All shades of LED light are at play in the sauna.


Take the glass elevator or stairs up to the rooftop terrace for ultimate views of the sunset–or rise, and a panorama that includes downtown Los Angeles and the ocean.

This terrace includes a full kitchen island with bar seating, and two more seating areas near the spa. One encircles a large rectangular fireplace, which also serves as a table or a place to warm your feet. The spa is surrounded by the same Pietra Gray marble, here sandblasted for a softer look and texture. The largest seating area faces a tall marble arch with a jumbo screen mounted at its top.


The property also includes the guest house that is accessed by a glass bridge adjoining the entry walkway. This private space nestled down the slope is secluded from the neighbors by large trees, but is open to the expanse of views. It has three levels, the top being a spacious, romantic roof terrace, perfect for an intimate dinner and a slow dance. Seating is placed around a large underlit cocktail table with a central fire feature. The suite’s top floor is an open living area and kitchen with window walls that completely open the room up to another terrace with a fireplace and dining area. This floor also has a powder room, where Troy has used a bold zebra patterned marble. A stairway takes you down to the cozy one bedroom and bath below, which has a seating and screening area, and views of the city from the bed. The bath features cream and gray marble and a double sink vanity.

Lighting brings another dimension to Summitridge at night. Colorful exterior lighting schemes abound; purples and blues glow from under the outdoor snack bar, the pool, the water features, and illuminate the walkways. Night views of the city lights surround the house.

This site was once home to jazz musician Artie Shaw and actress Lana Turner. The clarinetist and bandleader purchased the hilltop property around 1939, and Artie’s song titled Summitridge Drive was written and rehearsed at his house on the ridge. The excitement and energy of jazz has been reincarnated into this new house that brings people together on a grand scale, while still providing intimate spaces, and a quiet retreat from the larger world.

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