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Michael Burch Architects First Southern California Firm to Win Prestigious Palladio Award

Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | 11:27 am

Michael Burch Architects is honored to be the first Southern California recipient of the prestigious Palladio Award for its design of the Alta Canyada Residence in La Cañada Flintridge. The award was presented in Boston on July 17, 2014. Michael Burch Architects is internationally recognized for its expertise in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Their work was featured in Diane Keaton’s book California Romantica, The California Casa and most recently, Dreaming Small, all by Rizzoli International Press. The romance and drama of the firm’s work, whether in new construction or renovations/additions, captures the imagination and was described by Aaron Betsky in Architecture Magazine as “breathtaking in its sophistication and beauty.” They are currently presenting their work at the 14th International Venice Architecture Biennale which runs from 7 June through 22 November 2014.

The Alta Canyada project, was featured in the July issue of Traditional Building magazine, was a complete renovation and 2,000 square-foot expansion of a 1925 home designed by Golden Age Los Angeles architect Arthur Kelly. Best known for designing what is now the “Playboy Mansion,” Kelly lived in the Alta Canyada house in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Kelly also designed the Harvard-Westlake school campus in Los Angeles. The school was one of a number of projects on which Kelly collaborated with contractor Walter Burch, the grandfather of firm principal Michael Burch. Kelly also designed the Burch family home in Hancock Park during the 1920s.

The Alta Canyada project entailed doubling the size of Arthur Kelly’s original house and reconfiguring the site while meticulously respecting the style of the 1920’s design. It included extensive use of Tunisian tile and stenciling. The bedroom wing of the house was demolished, while a second story and basement were added. The project also included a newly designed pool and gardens. The project won an AIA Award in 2012. While Michael Burch Architects often collaborates with landscape architects, interior designers and other design professionals, the scope of work on this project encompassed all aspects of the interior and exterior design. This approach allowed for seamless integration of all aspects of the design into one cohesive composition while keeping true to the design’s original intent.

As described by the Palladio Awards Program, the award “honors outstanding achievement in traditional design” and recognizes designers “whose work enhances the beauty and humane qualities of the built environment through creative interpretation or adaptation of design principles developed through 2,500 years of the Western architectural tradition.”

The Palladio Awards are the first and only national award for projects that show excellence in traditional design. This is the first Palladio awarded to Michael Burch Architects. It’s only the second time a California architectural firm has won the prize.

For more information on Michael Burch Architects, please visit their website at To learn more about the Palladio Awards visit




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