A Harmonious Connection Thrives with CMU

After six years of construction, El Do is finally complete. This house is a one-level structure with a garage loft, located at La Jolla Shores in San Diego, CA. Even though this house has been totally renovated, its design story has not changed, and the floor plan remains intact. But, the interior and exterior spaces are all new, and each interior space has been connected to a new outdoor space, which Architect Steven Lombardi refers to as its own outdoor living room.

Old and New Thrive in this Connected Design

This existing 3280-ft2 (304.7-m2) house sits on a 20,400-ft2 (1895-m2) site. Its design is a harmonious combination of old and new and is expressed through the marriage of cedar with concrete masonry units. The main purpose of the new concrete masonry walls was to connect, and to create a dialogue between, the existing components of the home and those that are new, by using loadbearing, infill and privacy walls.

These outdoor spaces harness the sun for heat during the winter. Both existing fireplaces and loadbearing walls are 8x8x8-inch (203x203x203-mm) concrete block and were built in 1959. The new loadbearing, infill privacy walls are 8x8x16-inch (203x203x406-mm) concrete block, laid in both common and stacked patterns. The horizontal 4-inch (101.6-mm) cedar wrap siding acts like a rain screen with a 3/4-inch (19.05-mm) airspace over the existing black wood siding, equal to the new concrete masonry unit horizontal joints, with a overall thickness of 8 inches (203 mm), equal in height to the 8-inch (203-mm) concrete block, both new and existing.

The Connection Extends to the Outdoors

The cedar creates shade to the exterior skin during the summer, and the concrete masonry retains heat gathered in the winter. In the end, the old concrete masonry sets the  stage for all the new materials to perform at their best and maintain the modernist message of this home’s original design.

Published February 4, 2019
Share This Article

Related Updates

View All Updates


An award-winning AIA architect on why she loves building with CMU
View Update


A leading architect on the best way to attract architects
View Update

Featured Projects

Atwater Crossing Residences are CMU, Not Wood
View Update