Altair; under construction


Commencing in 2009, DBRDS (rather ‘funkitecture studio’ as we were called back then) assisted clients in La Jolla entitle a 7-unit development called ‘Altair’ on the corner of Neptune Place, Playa Del Sur & Vista Del Mar Avenue opposite Windansea Beach, CA.

While most multi-family projects in this notorious neighborhood are halted by community challenge & angst, Altair’s approval was relatively smooth & achieved unanimous approval at every level including La Jolla Community Development Review Committee, the La Jolla Community Planning Group, City of San Diego Hearing Officer (Process 3) and finally at the California Coastal Commission in January of 2011.


Intentionally designed as a concrete building, the client brief was to design a high quality residential building that would respond to the local vernacular & get the highest values for a multi-family project along the beach. A concrete frame meant that floor thickness was minimal so ceiling heights could be maximized and that the cantilevered balconies would be free of support structure to ensure dramatic ocean views. Studying the R.M Schindler project ‘El Pueblo Ribera Court‘ (built in 1923) just around the corner from our site, a palette of cast-in-place concrete, copper siding, glass & wood was used to create a structure that would age appropriately in its coastal location as well as draw upon the truly historic vernacular of the La Jolla coastal architecture, rather than the ‘faux Tuscan’ or ‘Cape Cod’ structure’s that people somehow still think are OK to be building in Southern California.


With the project approved, we soon learned our client was intending to sell the property with the entitlement approval, and so our involvement in the project was over. It wasn’t until rather recently that we learned that our clients had in-fact sold the property to KD Development out of Pacific Beach (who had also purchased the site across the road from ours which was also recently entitled by Marengo Morton Architects). Golba Architecture was engaged to complete the Building Permit Documentation & construction started on the project several months ago. We reached out multiple times to both KD Development & Golba Architecture to enquire about the project status, but unfortunately neither firm wanted to speak with us.

For anyone who might be interested, there is a website up with information & pricing here:

With that said, over the last few months we have been visiting the site taking progress photos as it is built & just wanted to share some them as it comes along. Certainly still proud of this project, and although there has been an evolution in the construction type (from concrete frame to wood frame w/ steel frames) the essence of a modern coastal building remains in tact & we look forward to seeing it completed. More photos to come as it continues to evolve.






One comment

  1. Patrick

    Great to see that a lot of your amazing design has made it to production, but given the importance of the site and the permanence of the project it’s a shame to see that it was dumbed down to 2x4s and stucco. It’s also a pity to see that many of your fabulous and site-appropriate horizontal windows were turned into small, upright public toilet block style windows. I suppose whatever it takes to actually get it built might be the motto of the current builder, but Google “Chevy Volt Concept Car” and compare it to the bland rental car that ended up getting built. Much as it’s been widely theorized that the disappointing sales of the Volt had a lot to do with the poor design execution of the production car, I can’t help but think that the developers of this property would see far greater financial returns if they built the truly exceptional property as originally imagined and approved.

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