Some artists seek the peace they need for their creative processes by retreating from the urbanity around them. Not the owner of this Los Angeles studio, who paints in oils as a sideline to his job in the entertainment industry. Architect Patrick Tighe, AIA, designed the 1,800-square-foot building to connect intimately with its home city. He sited it close to the street, where it doesn't compete with the painter's 1947 Wallace Neff house. Strategically placed windows frame various views of the Griffith Observatory next door and the surrounding lush vegetation. A rooftop terrace lays claim to some of the region's most iconic vistas, including the hillside Hollywood sign and the twinkling L.A. nightscape.

Tighe layered the studio so each space generates a new experience. A 14-foot-long glassed-in walkway links the main house to the double-height studio area. The owner also uses the project as a master suite, so a bedroom, kitchenette, and bath round out the ground floor. Up a narrow set of stairs lies an expansive loft office. From there, an outdoor stairway of precast-concrete planks leads to the roof terrace. “A huge part of the project is going up and through the building,” Tighe says. “You have all [these] different views, so the openings are oriented to different things.”

The studio's sleek lines respectfully contrast with Neff's romanticism while meeting the owner's program. “He wanted an open, versatile space that could be used for large canvases,” Tighe says. A massive, 10-foot-by-20-foot glass-and-wood sliding door easily handles ventilation needs. And a simple palette of materials—concrete slab floors, drywall, and tongue-and-groove cedar—lets the artwork in progress take center stage.

project: Live Oak Studio, Los Angeles
architect: Tighe Architecture, Santa Monica, Calif.
contractor: Maeco Construction, Los Angeles
project size: 1,800 square feet
construction cost: $225 per square foot
photography: Art Gray