Ask most Angelenos about Fossil Ridge Park and they’ll probably draw a blank. The paleontological site, named for its abundance of fossilized marine life dating back some 10 million years, is tucked in the mountains above Sherman Oaks, off the beaten path and familiar largely to people who live, work, or go to school in the vicinity. Peggy Hsu and Chris McCullough, principals of the LA-based architecture firm Hsu McCullough, are fortunate to have a front-row seat on the natural wonder. They designed their two-story house to frame particular vistas not only of Fossil Ridge but also of the San Gabriel Mountains and the San Fernando Valley floor. “We wanted to live in a hillside community with views,” explains Hsu, a native of Taiwan who moved to LA in her high school years. “We went through hundreds of floor plans to maximize sight lines.”
Their house is something of a “business in the front, party in the back” affair. The business part of the equation involved the need to foster privacy on the street-facing façade, which the couple addressed with a dramatic brise-soleil of western red cedar cut into 15-foot-tall boards. Detached from the main body of the house, the screen element makes room for a cloistered exterior entry stair off the driveway while allowing natural light to penetrate into the interior. The full volumetric brio of the architectural composition reveals itself at the back of the house, where pocketing glass walls on the first level and floor-to-ceiling glazing on the second open the structure to the landscape in a generous embrace.