338 SHELL WALK

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Architect: EARL COMBS, c. 1966.

338 Shell Walk reads like a more disciplined precursor to Earl Combs’ elaborate house at 120 Ocean Walk. A two-story octagonal volume is overlaid with a one-story cube. The result is a confounding home which is perfectly symmetrical, but its taut, jagged geometries feel like they could snap open at any moment. This tension speaks to Earl Combs’ varied education. “When I was at Cornell, symmetry and Beaux-Arts were dirty words,” as Burns recalled. “Everything was asymmetric and ‘dynamic,’ and we were all under the influence of that. But I was never completely happy with it. Luckily, I won a Fulbright and spent a year in Italy. I just drank it all in.”

Originally clad in redwood inside and out, the house was painted by subsequent owners. Its new occupant, appreciating its futuristic overtones, has painted the exterior “Death Star Grey” and dressed the interiors in white lacquer and eye-popping furniture to resemble a set from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The upstairs contains the living areas and a master suite with bay views, while the downstairs houses a den and guest rooms. A guest house anchors the rear edge of the site. A new gatehouse by Rawlins Design has not yet been executed.

Photos: Tom Sibley. Site Plan: Christopher Rawlins.

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