Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Angles and views: Los Altos Hills home offers challenge to mind and eye


Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Caye and Richard Johnson’s Los Altos Hills home boasts an angular backyard deck that juts from their large windows. The Johnsons constructed their home to mimic a treehouse, with no perfectly perpendicular lines.

Caye and Richard Johnson live in a treehouse – sort of.

Their multilevel home, built on a steeply sloped lot in Los Altos Hills, is a product of the Loma Prieta earthquake and their love of architecture. The view inside from the dramatic entry is of trees.

The Johnsons have lived on the property for 44 years. They loved the first house they built, which was Eichlerlike with a glass wall. But the 1989 quake caused it to separate nearly in half, leaving it habitable but in dire condition.

Rather than rebuild and retrofit it, they decided to start over.

“We looked for a young architect wanting to do interesting things,” said Richard, a fan of Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright.

“I didn’t want a square, boxy house,” said Caye, who had seen too many rentals that were advertised as light-filled but were depressingly dark.

Tobin Dougherty of Palo Alto filled the bill and, together with the Johnsons, designed a contemporary house that is all about angles and views. There are no square rooms.

An artistic space

Intersecting triangles form the motif, the most dramatic of which is the “prow” extending over the front entry. The front door continues the triangular motif in three different woods infilled with stonelike epoxy.

Ceiling beams extending from the interior to the exterior emphasize the lines. And five sets of vertical beams, which move as a unit, stabilize the house and add architectural interest.

Caye’s favorite view is from the backyard looking toward the soaring living room windows.

A plethora of glass capitalizes on the views from the 3,850-square-foot, four-bedroom house, which boasts a formal dining room, great room and study. The bar and a portion of the kitchen are cantilevered – “a tricky way to gain space,” Richard said.

A wine cellar and a barrel room with winemaking equipment are on the garage level.

Richard describes the house as “creative modern” based on angles that take advantage of the hillside and the sun.

“It is a continual challenge to the mind and eye,” he said.

In Dougherty’s words, “Juxtaposed angles, pathways, sun and site intertwine in a 45-degree dance of dramatic – yet domestic and intimate – artistic space.”

“Artistic” is the operative word, considering the eye-catching art pieces created by Richard. Noteworthy is one titled “Heavy Metal,” which measures 5-feet-by-10-feet and is made of Styrofoam shipping containers sprayed black. It hangs in the living room near a post-World War II handmade Rippen piano from Holland.

On another wall is a similar piece made from ink-cartridge shipping containers. Richard likes making things from found junk.

“This is interesting,” he says to himself. “What can I do with it?”

His muse could be Louise Nevelson.

The light-filled interiors provide a gallerylike setting for favorite things collected on their travels around the country and abroad.

Both worked in life sciences at Ames Research Center and spent a couple of months at the Johnson Space Center in 1969 analyzing the Apollo moon rocks. In addition, Richard worked on the Viking Mission to Mars and Caye worked on the space station.

After retiring from Ames, Richard worked at SRI before becoming a consultant and then turning his full attention to building the house.

A modern masterpiece

The Johnsons laid the slate floors themselves. Danish wood floors complement the slate.

The kitchen, on the first level, features a black and brown color scheme. The SieMatic cabinets from Germany are stained cherry, and the countertops are granite. The island is a 7-foot-by-6-foot trapezoidal slab of nearly black granite with red accents. The Johnsons used cardboard and plywood to mock up the island and create the perfect shape.

The kitchen includes a breakfast nook and flows into the great room, which features a Swedish corner fireplace.

Also on this level are the dining room, bar and powder room.

The powder room’s heavily textured black walls have traces of red, gold and silver – the perfect foil for a vibrant, masklike “face” that’s a clever composite of the face of Michelangelo’s David overpainted with a scene from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The couple purchased it

in Florence.

A few steps down is the living room. From there, staircases with custom wrought-iron railings lead up to Richard’s study and down to the bedrooms.

The master suite features an earth-toned marble bathroom. The open walk-in shower is like a greenhouse.

“It’s like showering with nature,” Caye said.

No wonder. The house sits on a 1.5-acre lot that is parklike.

The Johnsons have four grown children and are in the process of downsizing – no easy task.

When they built their modern masterpiece two decades ago, their youngest child asked, “Mom and Dad, why can’t you build a regular house?”


Richard and Caye Johnson's "treehouse" - Photos by Los Altos Town Crier

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