Luxury Home Magazine (April 2011)
Location:La Jolla, CA
Photographer:Larny J. Mack
An affinity for history weaves itself through firm’s custom-home designs.
April 2011 issue of Luxury Home Magazine Photography by Larny J. Mack
Written by David Hudnall
IS Architecture founder Ione R. Stiegler always harbored a love of history and architecture, which is why she wrote both her undergraduate and master’s theses on historic preservation. “It was just this perfect, natural way to fuse these two things that I’ve always been drawn to,” Stiegler says. After working in San Diego for historic preservation and residential architecture firms, this passion became the foundation forISArchitecture,founded in 1989 in La Jolla,California.
“Historic preservation is ideal for us, because it allows us to work in any genre and immerse ourselves in the details of any style,” Stiegler says. Today, IS Architecture’s portfolio breaks down into two general styles. The first, European Traditional, includes French Provencal, Italian, and Spanish Colonial Revival, and it’s especially popular in Southern California. The second, American Traditional, incorporates everything from the classic Cape Cod and Craftsman Style looks to more sleek, modern residences.
IS Architecture works primarily in the San Diego area, though its custom residences, remodels, and additions can also be found in Orange County and other pockets of Los Angeles. The firm provides extensive services for clients, including complete kitchen, bathroom, and interior-space designs, as well as pre-selection of finishes and materials.
Historic preservation amounts to between 60 and 80 percent of the firm’s
work, depending on the year.This work has garnered the firm over two dozen awards for both preservation and custom home work.
The working process of IS Architecture’s six employees is characterized as an open forum. “We’re all in one big room, constantly bouncing ideas back and forth,” Stiegler explains. “The architectural staff is always pulling me over to take a look at their designs – it’s an open approach where we’re always in touch with each other’s ideas and vision.”
This collaboration can be seen in the firm’s Michan project, an Italian villa the firm recently completed in La Jolla. “Technically, it was a remodel, but at the end of the day, it’s an entirely new house,” Stiegler says. Prior to IS Architecture’s arrival, only three rooms in the one-story, 4,800 square foot home offered ocean views. The firm knocked down a large, obtrusive wall and reconfigured the home to optimize views.
“The whole structure now opens out onto a semi-enclosed patio with unobstructed views of the ocean – kind of an outdoor living room,” Stiegler says. The exterior entry courtyard features a stone finish that’s subtly consistent with the interior finish. “These clients like the warmth of an Old World look,” she explains, “but they also have a modern art collection. We bridged that by maintaining clean lines in the design but using a lot of rich material.”
This rigorous attention to the clients’ desires is a hallmark of IS Architecture’s approach and a key element of its success. “I kind of fell into working in residential design, but I immediately love the aspect of working with people on their homes,” Stiegler says. “I like carrying out a homeowners’ vision. I like being responsible for putting a smile on their faces. In the end it’s their home, not mine.”