AKA: Ackerberg Beach House, Malibu, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Meier, Richard and Partners Architects, LLP (firm); Richard Meier (architect); Michael Palladino (architect)

Dates: constructed 1984-1986

3 stories, total floor area: 7,700 sq. ft.

22466 Pacific Coast Highway
Carbon Beach, Malibu, CA 90265

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This was New York architect Richard Meier's first realized work in Southern CA, completed in 1986. Meier met real estate developer Norman Ackerberg and his wife, Lissette, while in Los Angeles interviewing for the Getty Museum commission. In some ways, the Ackerberg House became a proving ground for ideas that he would explore on a much granders scale at the Getty. According to Meier: "The Ackerberg House was an important exploration of building for the gentle climate and strong sunlight of the Los Angeles basin." (See Richard Meier, "Introduction," Ackerberg House & Addition, [New York: Monacelli Press, 1996], p. 6.)

Building History

Lissette Ackerberg fought a long-running battles with those who wished to get public street access to Carbon Beach. LA Curbed.com reported in 2015 that she was: "...granted permits in the 1980s to build a house designed by Getty architect Richard Meier, a pool, a tennis court, and a sea wall, in exchange for including a 10-foot-wide access path for visitors to get to the beach (by state law, every California beach is public between the water and the mean high tide line). Ackerberg got her house and her pool, tennis court, and sea wall, but she really didn't want to have to give up that 10-foot path. About three decades later, it officially opens tomorrow. The state didn't even bother trying to build anything at the Ackerbergs' for nearly two decades; finally, in 2003, it hired the group Access for All to create the path. When they showed up to get to work, they found "a concrete slab, generator, light posts, a 9-foot-high wall and other development" choking off the proposed easement, according to a 2011 AP story. The state told Ackerberg to move the stuff. She suggested the state build a pathway somewhere else, down the beach a little at the Malibu Outrigger condo complex, according to the LA Times. The state said 'we're building both.' An appellate judge agreed that was a good plan. Ackerberg tried to take the matter to the California Supreme Court. They declined." (See Adrian Glick Kudler, LA Curbed.com, "Public Finally Gets Billionaires' Beach Access Point After Decade-Long Battle," published 07/06/2015, accessed 06/28/2018.) Folllowing the installation fo the public walkway, Ackeberg moved to a $15 million apartment in the Carlyle Residences in Westwood.

Oracle software company owner Larry Ellison purchased the Ackerberg House for $48 million in 04/2017. According to LA Curbed.com, this was the tenth property he had purchased on Malibu's Carbon Beach. (See Bianca Barragan, LA Curbed.com, "Oracle’s Larry Ellison drops $48M on Carbon Beach mansion designed by Getty Center architect," published 04/11/2017, accessed 06/28/2018.)


The Ackerbergs contacted Meier and his office saying that they needed more space in their six-year-old house, and asked him to design an addition. Meier discussed this addition in his book Ackerberg House & Addition: "My initial response was to discourage the idea of adding on; the house was, to my mind, complete. With trepidation I considered the formal and programmatic possibilities of the extension. It was difficult because a certain scale and set of proportions had been established. Once the decision had been made, however, my golad was to make the house even better that it was in its original incarnation. I thought the addition should continue to explore the idea of spatial progression and should allow its occupants to step outside, onto a terrace or balcony, from every room. I realized that the only place to put the addition was in front as a third story of 1,200 square feet above the guest wing. Among the constraints influencing this choice were local height limitations. The program for this third story included an exercise room, artist's studio, and bath. On the highway side, the addition was set back to minimize its mass. The visible portions actually improved the house from the street, rendering it more noticeable. On the ocean side, a pier anchors the enlarged wing, and a stair from the courtyard slides behind the pier to form a small third-story terrace. The balcony extension articulates and animates the corner. To set the new level unobtrusively into the existing structure, detailing was kept identical to the original, and steel railings were extended to lace it together. Some structural upgrading was necessary to reinforce second-story walls that had been designed to support only a roof." (See Richard Meier, "Introduction," Ackerberg House & Addition, [New York: Monacelli Press, 1996], pp. 7-8.)

PCAD id: 442

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