"When architect Michael Maltzan talks about the 28,000-square-foot house he designed for former talent agent Michael Ovitz, he draws an instructive distinction between two related architectural forms: “the house” and “the villa.” The former is where people live, a place of domestic intimacy and private sanctuary. The latter simultaneously satisfies the owner’s personal needs—bedroom, bathroom, kitchen—while also accommodating larger, public groups. The villa communicates wealth, prestige, and power. It’s a boast; at its best, a memorable one. The ideal today is still defined by Palladio’s 16th-century Italian country houses, structures that both Maltzan and Ovitz know literally inside and out.
Of the two architectural forms, there is no question that the Ovitz residence in Beverly Hills is a villa. It is Ovitz’s private sanctuary as well as his new public platform, a quasi-museum for his significant art collection. “I average 10 or 12 tours a week,” he tells me one evening at his dinner table, which is flanked on one side by dark-hued canvases by Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, and Franz Kline and, on the other, by a mural-size black assemblage by Louise Nevelson. “It’s open to anybody. There are staff here who bring visitors through.”
Maltzan is sitting across from his client at the large round table, one of two in the dining room, which is less a discrete room than the wide end of a passageway that broadens as it runs the length of the house from the main gallery to the family wing. Along the way hang three Picassos, a Dubuffet, and a stunning trio of works by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Willem de Kooning. The house is chockablock with art, and the effect is nearly overwhelming, like Christmas morning with all the presents open."
Click here to read the entire conversation with Michael Ovitz and Michael Maltzan.