Sycamore House Pacific Palisades

Designed as the home of Founder and Design Partner, Michael Kovac, Sycamore House serves as a laboratory for the studio’s ongoing research into sustainable architecture and a showcase for Kovac’s design philosophy. The home’s integration of environmental systems and green materials has made it one of the first residences in California to garner a LEED Platinum Certification.

Photovoltaic panels provide for nearly all of the house’s power needs, while a green roof insulates the home and mitigates storm water runoff. The house employs an array of sustainable materials, including high fly ash content concrete, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified woods, reclaimed wood flooring, non-VOC paints, recycled glass tile, formaldehyde-free plywood, Energy Star appliances, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

"Sycamore House takes its name from the three large trees that share its vertiginous Pacific Palisades site."

Michael Kovac, Founder and Design Partner

A Ceiling Shaped by Airflow

The home's generous skylight boasts an impressive curvilinear form, which references the considerable airflow that graces the main living and dining space thanks to thoughtfully placed windows that allow for cross-breezes.

By taking maximum advantage of natural ventilation to control temperature and airflow, the home employs passive strategies - as well as active systems - that typify our firm's approach to sustainable design.

Travel to "The Baths"

Morning light grazes the custom milled wall in the primary bath. The wall was back-painted to mimic the shallow waters of the Caribbean, which were the inspiration for this and several other unique elements in the home following owner and Kovac Founder and Design Partner Michael Kovac's trip to "The Baths" in the British Virgin Islands⁠.

Shadows of Sycamores

The namesake trees of Sycamore House cast shadow patterns on its facade, further enhanced by the exterior's etched design, which was created by artist Jill Sykes using the silhouettes of real Sycamore leaves. In this way, the site's native flora have indelibly marked this home, serving as a reminder of the environmental consciousness with which it was designed.

The geometry of the house is driven by the sharply descending slope. In keeping with the modest scale of its neighbors, the house presents a single-story elevation to the street, while the view from below reveals a series of sculpted volumes cascading down toward Rivas Canyon.

  • Photography

    Lisa Romerein and Lars Frazer

  • Videography

    Frazer Pogue Collective