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San Diego by Design

The Architect, the Vortex


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Ken Ronchetti

Interviewing architect Ken Ronchetti is like quizzing an encyclopedia. He carries his knowledge so close to the surface that almost any topic can be an instant conversation. Based in Solana Beach, Ronchetti collects his life’s experiences from travel, reading, conversations and his work. At 60, he is in his prime time.

He’s a spinning helix in the office and a master of delegation, yet nothing escapes his review. Inspirations for his architecture come from mathematics, patterns of stars, the slope of a hillock and the invisible eddy of the evening breeze. Once he is aware you grasp his point, he abandons thoughts in midsentence and moves on. Everything relates to earth (place), time (now) and linkage with nature (his structures).

Once you filter through the conversational overlays, you discover there is simplicity to what Ronchetti is spinning. Everything in his architecture has the same flow and connection to nature. Understand that, and you understand his architecture.

And it is beautiful because it mirrors all things prefixed geo.


Design editor Thomas Shess, writing in San Diego Magazine, was awarded first place for at-large reporting in architecture and design by the San Diego Press Club at its most recent Excellence in Journalism Awards.

 an aerial view of the house Aloft: Perched on a cliff, this elegant structure glides under wings, as seen from the passing parasails from the nearby Torrey Pines glider port.
the living room  Air: A tall veranda adjoining living spaces, with disappearing glass and shutters, is wrapped in diaphanous curtains. The home is extended from the inside of the house to the outdoor gardens and mountains beyond. The structure of both mass and transparency provides a seamless connection of shelter transitioning to openness. Interior and exterior designed by the Ronchetti Design Group.
 a curving balcony Water: The design of the house and pools flow toward the ocean in La Jolla. Curving along the ocean’s edge, the home is an extension of the form of the land, an integral part of its environment.
 sunset seen from the veranda Music: This house of wings (above), a private residence along the coastal bluffs of Torrey Pines, sits quietly at sunset.
 the house lit up at night  Fire: A home at the base of a volcano, at the Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii, responds to the trade winds and the curve of the volcanic flow of the land. The Ronchetti Design Group created this home for tropical weather, where the entertainment areas need no heat or air-conditioning.
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