California affords its citizens certain benefits—endless entertainment, gorgeous swimming pools, the Pacific Ocean, and near perfect weather. Now we can add another amenity that’s trending on ultra-luxe California estates—outdoor pavilions.
Backyard pavilions are popping up like spring grass, no matter the season. These luxury enclosures offer outdoorsy homeowners endless opportunities to entertain and relax—rain or shine, steamy or chilly.
Leading this trend is Rios Clementi Hale Studios, architects behind the residences of entertainment bigwigs Clive Davis, David Geffen, Brian Grazer and writer/producer Darren Star. The firm’s partners—Mark Rios, Julie Smith-Clementi, Frank Clementi, Bob Hale, and Mark Motonaga—are a dream team of collaborators whose interdisciplinary expertise is turning backyards into entertainment sanctuaries.
These aren’t your uncle’s pop-up tents that tip over in a wind gust at birthday parties. These pavilions are conceived and fabricated like high-performance exotic supercars—often sheathed in glossy steel skin, engineered for supreme comfort, and packed with high-tech amenities and components concealed by immaculate detailing.
These rooms utilize high-grade materials such as structural steel frames, motorized pocketing glass walls and windscreens, fiber optic lighting, audio/visual components, infrared heaters, sapphire glass guardrails, rooftop lawns, polished high-gloss ceiling plaster, and automotive paint over Bond-o-filler over 3/4”-thick plate steel—whatever that is (but it sounds super high-tech and secure).
The Air Frame Pavilion
The sleek design of these pavilions belies the internal complexity of their building systems. For year-round comfort, the pavilion can adapt to changing weather—raising or lowering shades, maneuvering glass walls, activating heating and sound systems—via touch-screen control.
The architects’ challenge: create a “back garden room” structure without obstructing the scenic views from the main house, pool terrace or any other vista on the property. The clients wanted a comfortable outdoor room that complemented the main residence as well as steel sculptures on the grounds. The architects’ positioned the sculptural pavilion concept as a fine art commission—an extension of the clients’ art collection.
Rios Clementi Hale Studios crafted the Air Frame Pavilion—a white minimalist, 650-square-foot room with retractable glass walls that occupies a manicured backyard area, near the pool terrace and the three-story, 18,000-square-foot residence, which was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects in 2000.
The pavilion features bright-white furnishings atop light-stone flooring (creating a gallery ambiance), breezy openness (called “void”) via low-e glass window walls, a cozy central fireplace (a console “fire table”), an imbedded flat-screen TV, an A/V system hidden within an elegant white-metal frame, and a glass-walled roof deck offering panoramic vistas of the Los Angeles basin and Pacific Ocean. This synthetic-turfed roof sun deck connects to a second floor bedroom of the main house via a thin steel-plate bridge (which doubles as a covered pavilion walkway from the first-floor breakfast room).
The pavilion location provides 180-degree views at the top of a slope and seamlessly integrates with main residence living spaces (from existing corridor views to exterior circulation paths to material appearance). “The steel-framed, steel-skinned pavilion maintains the vista, complements the main house, and is sculptural in form and expression,” according to the firm. “Its roof is a viewing deck, creating an additional vantage point.” As a kicker, the architect also designed the custom "fire table" console and furniture selections for the pavilion.
The sophisticated simplicity of the sculptural design is enhanced by its taut steel skin, planar walls, cantilevered roof and climatic responsiveness. The homeowners spend most of their time in the pavilion, dining, entertaining, watching TV or just relaxing.
Another recent Rios Clementi Hale Studios design was codenamed “Cayton Residence” which enriched the home of an unnamed Bel Air, California client with two pavilions—the Padel Pavilion adjacent to a padel (or "paddle") court and another by the pool.
As these outdoor pavilions grow in popularity (like the manicured grass they rest on), the backyard party never ends.