The house that Maltzan designed for Hollywood legend Michael Ovitz

The architect has created for “the man who has everything” a composition of volumes plastered with stucco, which maximizes the views of the ocean and houses a series of murals by Sol LeWitt inside.

This article was originally published on Domus 1068, May 2022.

It is an unusual challenge: how to build a Los Angeles-area beach house for the man who has everything, including a palatial art-filled mansion just a few miles away, which, as it happens, you yourself designed? The client is Michael Ovitz, a legendary Hollywood agent, studio executive, collector and patron of the arts. The architect is Michael Maltzan, who designed Ovitz’s nearby Beverly Hills mansion, and in 2020 completed Ovitz’s 1,000-square-metre beach house in Malibu

In an interview, Ovitz said, “I wanted Philip Johnson’s Glass House on the beach,” but Maltzan gave him a great deal more. The two-story home, known as the Broad Beach Residence, presents a 50-metre-long beige facade to the road. That facade forms the plinth of the broad, triangular upper floor, which, along with two master bedrooms, overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The lower floor has some utility bedrooms backed up against the street side, and plenty of ocean-cooled open space, including the de rigueur swimming pool, a basketball court and open patios for entertaining and dining.

Many of the stucco plaster surfaces are emblazoned with wall paintings by the late Sol LeWitt. Some paintings escort visitors through entryways, while others adorn large open spaces on the lower beach level. “The LeWitt wall drawings are a major part of the overall experience and aesthetic of the house,” explains Maltzan. “I see the LeWitts being in the tradition of the large mural in both modern and more classical ways, really defining the interior spaces of the house.” The effect is Glass House-plus. “I think we are pushing the idea of the glass house to a different place,” Maltzan comments.


“Broad Beach is a juxtaposition of the modernist idea of the completely transparent, dematerialised inside/outside life of the glass box on the beach level, in conversation with a much more contemporary idea of a highly calibrated home on the second floor. There, transparency gives way to a blended opacity, a heavy and protected form sitting on top of the glass box. That duality challenges the modernist idea.”

In addition to his work for celebrity clients, Maltzan has also designed four complexes for the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit that supports Los Angeles’s large and visible homeless population. The Carver Apartments, erected next to a freeway, has an armature of sheet metal fins that rise six stories through its interior courtyard, creating a dramatic visual effect. “Those put the courtyard into dynamic visual motion as you move around it,” says Maltzan. “It takes people by surprise when they see it. That’s a kind of optical device that certainly has a real relation to the LeWitts of the beach house.”

Michael Maltzan Architecture, Broad Beach Residence Malibu, California, USA, 2020. Foto Iwan Baan, courtesy © Michael Maltzan Architecture
Michael Maltzan Architecture, Broad Beach Residence, Malibù, California, USA, 2020. Foto Iwan Baan, courtesy © Michael Maltzan Architecture

When asked what lessons the Broad Beach Residence can share with other projects, Maltzan demurs. “The inventiveness at Broad Beach is the use of a traditional, standard material like stucco plaster, which is generally inexpensive and kind of ubiquitous in Southern California. I’ve used that material in a lot of our housing work, and I’m fascinated by how much potential this traditional material has. That’s the case here – the way it captures the light, how fluid the form can be, and how it can be used for so many different parts of the building. It creates a strong sculptural form for the house.”

In the Canadian Centre for Architecture movie What It Takes to Make a Home, Maltzan and Viennese architect Alexander Hagner consider the question: “Is there one architectural practice for plutocrats, and a different architecture for the rest of the world?” Maltzan insists: no. “I’m looking to prove that architecture at the highest level of ambition can exist in all project types,” he says. “Certainly, while individual situations differ from person to person, many of the basic ambitions for their lives – their hopes, their goals, their fears, their anxieties – are very often quite similar. Architecture by its nature doesn’t discriminate.” 

Michael Maltzan. Foto Ron Eshel
Michael Maltzan. Photo Ron Eshel
Broad Beach Residence
Michael Maltzan Architecture
Project architect:
Michael Maltzan
Design team:
Tim Williams, Andrew Wolf, David Kim
Guy Nordenson Associates (structures) John A. Martin & Associates (engineers of record) GeoConcepts (geotechnics) John Yaroslaski Ensitu Engineering (septic systems)) Peak Surveys (civil) David Weiss (coastal)
Landscape design:
Garden Culture
Other consultants:
Topanga Underground (water utilities contractor) Don W. Schmitz (city consultant)) AWS (window coverings)
MATT Construction
Michael Ovitz
Built area:
994 m²
Design phase:
Construction phase:

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