Presenting Sponsor


Gold Sponsors


Supporting Sponsors

In Support Of


Dwell Home Tours

Sydney House

San Diego, CA

San Diego Home Tours, Day 2
Sunday, November 11, 2012

Buy Tickets

A tight budget and a love of modernism built this tri-level canyon retreat.

The architects, Randy McGeough and Carolyn LaFrance, designed their 2,000-square-foot house and studio in 2008. The house is rich with cost-effective, energy-saving, and healthy building measures such as formaldehyde-free plywood, a tankless water heater, the inconspicuous absence of a fireplace, and a clever system of capturing natural canyon breezes for ventilation. Flowing through the basement, air travels up the stairwell to the rooms above, and out the skylight. Thick west walls shield the house from the sun, while north-facing glass walls open the rooms up to the light and views.

Halfway through the home’s design, the process took a fortuitous turn: “A treasure trove of mid-century modern fixtures, appliances, and materials from the penthouse of Henry H. Hester’s 1959 Salomon Apartments was rescued from the landfill,” says McGeough. “Knobs, lights, faucets, granite countertops, even the kitchen sink were incorporated into the new house. Since we had copied major portions of the kitchen and bathrooms from Hester anyway, they seem right at home.”

About the Architect

Thumb Randy McGeough and Carolyn LaFrance
McGeough LaFrance Architects

Our practice has centered around providing affordable urban housing solutions in San Diego over the last twenty years. Most of our projects are infill, and many involve the re-use and enlargement of existing, often historic structures. We have successfully managed developer and consultant teams to construct mixed-use apartments, row houses, live-work, student housing and age-in-place living.

Although our aesthetic is thoroughly modern, we have been very successful working with neighborhood review and preservation boards by designing sensitively to the context, and by showing how a modern response respects the established patterns and urban goals of the community.


Designer: LAR Enterprises, Inc., Dan Webb

Structural Engineering: Casey Pfeiffer, Pacific Coast Structural Engineering, LLC

Soils Engineering: Don Vaughn, Geotechnical Exploration, Inc.

Excavation: Phil Boczanowski, Carmel Valley Contractors

Concrete: Jeff Hale, Hale Concrete Construction

Masonry: Dave Mejia Masonry

Framing: N & Brian Newell, F Construction

Sheet Metal & Gutters: Wayne Rake, Archibald Sheet Metal

Custom Cabinetry: Jim Evanko, Evanko Cabinetry, Inc.

Finish Carpentry: Joe LeBlanc

Painting: Travis Walsh, TW Paint & Repair

Shower Enclosures & Mirrors: Jorge Barraga, Discount Glass & Mirror

Of Note:
Standard construction and materials are used to build a narrow-lot, steep-canyon urban home with passive solar cooling, natural daylighting and gorgeous views from every room. The major rooms are ambiguous and can be used for different purposes, and the house is designed and plumbed to allow it evolve into separate age-in-place units in the future.

Plumbed for roof-top solar and graywater systems. Non-toxic, local materials are left exposed to let their character and construction, as well as thermal properties to contribute to the living environment. Native, edible or xeriscape landscaping.

Buy Tickets

Purchase a 2-Day Weekend Pass and receive free tickets to Meet the Architects Reception.

Upcoming Events