By Thomas Shess • Photography by Martin Mann
World Class, And One of a Kind
A Ken Kellogg architectural classic is seamlessly restored...
Ramin Pourteymour, one of the youngest individuals ever to pilot a 747 passenger jumbo jet (for United Airlines), strongly believes in karma. While more of a renaissance thinker than an adherent of dogmatic or factionalized thought, his humanism has served him well in his post-airline career as a real estate investor.
The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a creed he takes to heart and has helped make him prosperous in body and soul.
“I’ve always set goals for myself day to day and long range,” says Pourteymour. “When I was 15, I visited a home in La Jolla that so impressed me that I told my parents someday I will have a home like this.”
A career or two later, while in Australia on business, he found a San Diego home that interested him on the Internet. The listing had a description but no photos of the amenities, pool, great La Jolla Farms location, tennis court, nice-sized lot or the residence’s famous architect, Kendrick Bangs Kellogg.
From Australia he contacted a realtor and made a bid on the home before heading back to the U.S.
Upon his return, he made a first visit to the property that was now his for the taking before he signed the check.
“To my huge surprise that home was the same one that impressed me as a teenager,” he says. “I bought it on the spot. I’m its seventh owner.”
Called the Atoll House because the home’s crescent architectural footprint is a metaphor for a ring-shaped coral reef, there are visual similarities to a high-end Polynesian resort. All rooms face outward to the large swimming pool and richly landscaped courtyard.
In another light, there are exotic elements of Persian and Moorish architecture. One example is Atoll’s interior column treatment similar to that of La Mezquita, a mosque in Cordoba, Spain. Kellogg’s use of lava rock outside harkens to Hawaiian hillside homes.
Aficionados of leading international organic architects, past and present — like Frank Gehry and Antoni Gaudi — will find much to admire in the dreamscape qualities of stylized pillars, coved ceilings and the irregular roofline of the Atoll House.
Simply put there is no other home in San Diego quite like it. The architect handmade this Atoll and it is pure Kellogg — including the way the home eases into the earth. The vision is organic.
But designed by famous architects or not, eventually homes begin to show their age, and this low-slung, curvilinear home built in the mid-1970s was
in need of maintenance. Leaks and a weather-beaten exterior faced the new owner.
Pourteymour, who has remodeling experience as part of his real estate career, teamed with his brother Sean of SMP Construction to fix and match the legendary property to his vision.
Before he commissioned a remodel, he had to address the fact that any changes he’d make would fall under the watchful eyes of the local architectural community — many of whom revered the original Kellogg design as world class.
To keep him within the bounds of an architecturally historic home, he hired long-time San Diego interior/architectural de-signer Fred Gemmell. In 2008, the trio went to work.
Gemmell says, “To their credit, Ramin and Sean have done much of the design work themselves. I’ve added touches like the 13,000 pounds of teal-colored crushed glass as a rooftop.” Gemmell’s glistening roof mimics ocean hues around the reef and is in keeping with the home’s theme and name.
All of the original tile as well as the James Hubbell-designed stained glass and chandeliers were untouched. Cabinetry and flooring, however, needed replacement. Exotic wood veneers were chosen for the new installations.
Gemmell and Ramin agreed to take down a volcanic rock interior wall to give better flow to the circular interior. “Mr. Kellogg liked the idea of us removing the wall,” says Ramin. They also agreed to tone down a grainy plaster throughout with a smooth paint texture. Removing decaying wood and replacing glass re-vamped the skylights. Kellogg sited the skylights to be able to view a shining star or planet at key times during the evening.
Also, all of Kellogg’s indoor and outdoor tiled stream themes were maintained or enhanced. A new outdoor kitchen was created using Lynx outdoor kitchen elements. Inexpensive ’70s kitchen appliances, inside, were replaced with top-of-the-line, stainless-steel Gaggenau products surrounding a new chef-sized Dacor range.
All in all, the remodel is a seamless success. Breathtaking, the Atoll House is the pride and joy of a caring, young man who often shares the beauty of his home by opening the doors for many charitable events.