The proposed remodel, according to a May 6 report to the town's Architectural and Site Review Board, would expand the main house to 8,000 square feet from the current 7,750, and match some 35-foot-high elements by raising the heights of other parts of the house. For the existing house, completed in 2007, the town granted exceptions to the 6,000-square-foot and 30-foot maximums for floor area and height. This remodel would require additional exceptions.
This remodel would also "significantly change the architectural style of the structures," the staff report said. Among those changes: replacing the white exteriors with light beige stone siding, installing matching roofs of gray slate, and adding oval windows in various locations. On the main house, which sits near the center of the property, the remodel would enclose an upper-floor balcony under a slate dome that includes dormers. At the entrances to the accessory structures, the remodel would add formal elements such as columns at the entries.
The property owner listed on the application is SV Projects, LLC. The listed applicant, Noel Manerud of Van Acker Construction in Mill Valley, met with the seven-member ASRB on May 6 for a conceptual design review. The town recently instituted this new first step in the permitting process for major projects. The applicant brings drawings in "various states of roughness" to discuss, and because the discussion is conceptual, going back to the drawing board is less of an ordeal, ASRB member Nancy Reyering said. "Applicants haven't become financially invested and emotionally attached."
The ASRB was unanimous in making several recommendations and asking the client to return for another meeting, Ms. Reyering said. "It's a big valuable estate and I think they're really going to try to make it comply" with town regulations, she said. "They were very respectful in the meeting."
Planning Director Jackie Young summarized the ASRB's recommendations in a letter advising the applicant to "reconsider the project by carefully reviewing the residential design guidelines" concerning building scale, architectural style as attuned to the natural environment, simplified roofs, visual compatibility among the buildings, an exterior that is "less formal" and "more simple and rural," and an entry that is "less massive."
There is much that the proposed remodel would not touch: the gatehouse, the swimming pool and pool house, the guest house and the landscaping overall, including significant trees. There are plans to recycle 100 percent of the materials and reuse them where appropriate, the staff report said. A new underground cistern would collect irrigation and rainwater runoff. Landscape exterior lighting should not be expanded, the report said.
Given that the structures to be remodeled are just six years old, the proposal will not trigger an historical evaluation, the staff report said.
The website of East Coast architect Allan Greenberg, who designed the estate, has one paragraph about it: "This northern California home sits in an elaborate hilltop garden. Reflecting the strong Palladian tradition in the United States, it is planned around hyphens and dependencies and features a double volume, elliptical garden room."
Noel Manerud has not replied to an email inquiry as to his role in this remodel. The website Zoominfo describes Mr. Manerud as an architect with "over 20 years experience in high end residential construction ... (with) a strong background in sustainable design theory and practice." He is listed as having bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from, respectively, the University of California, Berkeley, and from the University of Oregon.
The Van Acker Construction website may be notable for what it does not say. There is a portfolio of images of previous work, but no accompanying descriptions. There is no listing of Van Acker staff or clients. Under the heading "Privacy," the site notes: "We take our client's privacy seriously. Any images or information related to our engagements is released only with the approval of our clientele."