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Rancho Diablo

(Joe Fletcher  photographer) (Joe Fletcher  photographer)

(Joe Fletcher  photographer)

Rancho Diablo, a 2013 AIA East Bay Home Tours house
Original: 1929
Renovated: 2007
Architect: Ace Architects, Lucia Howard, AIA
Photographer:  Joe Fletcher

The original house on this site in the foothills of Mt. Diablo was built in 1929 as a hunting lodge. The original architect, Lillian Bridgman, was a contemporary of Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck. Over the years, the house fell into disrepair and suffered many poor additions. In 1990, a series of improvements began that would ultimately celebrate the Bay Region style, especially Maybeck and his gothic touches. However, the older home is used as a reference only. The new structures are a re-interpretation of the past, with their own exuberant and distinctive style.

Owner and architect Lucia Howard, AIA, of Ace Architects, designed the renovation, which includes living and museum spaces. The museum area houses a collection of souvenir architectural models (reportedly the world’s most extensive). The addition respects the original house and continues its architectural lines, yet is vigorously eclectic and new, combining and amplifying architectural styles to create a whimsical and theatrical composition. Materials and details pay homage to the originals but are employed more boldly by this talented and artistic architect, who also designed much of the furniture. The house is a home, a stage set and a gallery.

A re-designed landscape, done by the architect, includes a new pool, an extension to the existing cactus garden and a sculpture garden sited on a nearby knoll. Expressive architecture, valley views and interesting artwork make this an inspiring rancho.

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