“Built in the San Bernardino Mountains at an altitude of 4,300 feet this family residence has taken ten years to build. Inspired by the spectacular rock formations of the surrounding area it was intended as a retreat into nature, echoing the decomposed, rust-colored granite. Indeed, James Hubbell’s sculptural training is evident in this building.
“Although the area generally enjoys a temperate climate it can experience strong winds from the east, thick fog from the coast, thunderstorms and droughts. Covering an area of around 1,800 square feet, the main house and guest room had to take into consideration these practical concerns. It has been set into the side of a south-facing hill to shelter from the easterly winds. Furthermore the outdoor patio is protected by a curving stone wall. An extended drought would cause the surrounding woodland to become dry, necessitating a fire-resistant exterior to the building.
“The house consists of a main living area with the kitchen, library, solarium, and storage area attached. A guest room is connected by an arcade. The upper floor contains a bedroom, bathroom, balcony and a further guest room.
“The architect’s working technique is to initially produce quick sketches and clay models which are then used to communicate his ideas with the structural engineer. Flexibility in construction is of paramount importance in a structure of this kind. Therefore black pipe was used for structural elements as it is easy to bend, as are curved I-beams or trusses which were used for supports. This element of experimentation during the early construction of the house is evident in the guest room, where ceiling heights and curves of walls were altered and refined. This now has a flat tiled roof, surrounded by a railing enabling it to be used as a deck. Family involvement was another aspect to realization of ‘Rainbow Hill’, the Gay Residence. Phil Gay studied building sciences which enabled him to generate the energy calculations for the house. His son Jonathan took a course in residential plumbing and electrical systems.
“Craftsmen working at the architect’s studio in San Diego produced the plaster, glass and ceramic details which were evolved along with the form of the house and then worked into the finished building. Originally intended to be salmon in color, the building’s stone veneer and stucco coat is in fact painted with red, ochre and umber pigments, inspired by the colors of Mexico.” ~ Excerpted from “Organic Architecture,” Architectural Design Magazine, Profile No. 106 – 1995.
Rainbow Hill was open to the public for many years as a bed and breakfast before it closed and reverted to a private residence around 2009/2010.