by Elisa Revello
Among the undulating hills and within the bountiful landscape of California’s wine country, Taylor Lombardo Architects has reaped the fruits of its labor by creating unique wineries and high-end luxury homes. The firm is considered a pioneer, one of the first to take on the design of wineries, which has become a long-standing staple of its work for nearly 20 years. Principals of the firm, Tom Taylor and Maurice Lombardo, have combined their two main specializations in one of their latest projects, developing a winery compound for Presqu’ile Winery, which includes a state-of-the-art contemporary winery and several winery residences.
Lombardo heads business development while Taylor focuses on project development. The two, in every endeavor, remain highly involved with clients and contractors, and are always willing to expand creatively.
“We are unique in that we do not really have a particular style,” Lombardo says. “One of our strengths is that we do all styles—from modern to traditional.” The company’s portfolio ranges from the look and feel of a Provencal home to the latest in contemporary design.
“We reinvent the wheel on every project to an extent,” Taylor says. “The process starts from completely understanding the needs, the views, priorities and practical considerations.” For designing wineries, as an example, the firm has created a detailed questionnaire to fully comprehend the winemaking process, the style and the client’s requirements. Knowing the specifications helps the firm to navigate codes and other guidelines.
Taylor elaborates that with wineries, there are several considerations to account for including industrial design, hospitality and administrative components. Working with wineries is like developing three separate entities: a factory, a boutique sales facility and an office building. With every project, it takes time to develop a plan as Taylor starts drawing by hand. “I communicate directly with owners for the initial phases of the project,” Taylor says. “I try to put clients at ease, have them open up, so that I can understand their goals.” Lombardo says, “We do not try to make it easy on ourselves, we try to make it easy on our clients.”
The firm recently completed Silver Oak winery, an accomplishment that it is particularly proud of, which originally started as a remodeling project. Unexpectedly though, the project ended up being a complete re-design. “From when we started, to when it was completed, it was a very accelerated process for that quality,” Taylor says. “The client didn’t want to compromise on quality, durability or aesthetics so it was very intense in a short amount of time.”
The company’s work has also found them recognition throughout the world. Recently Taylor Lombardo was sought out to design nine houses within a subdivision in Shanghai. The 7,000 to 9,000-square-foot houses needed to be completed in a matter of months. The firm also recently completed a 40,000-square-foot wine center in Wuxi, China.
The firm, in every undertaking, tries to design sustainable projects, by using lasting materials with a look that is timeless, innovative and enduring. “Our goal is to build a house that lasts well over 100 years,” Lombardo says.
The company has received significant press, including a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. The work remains interesting and exciting as the client demographic shifts from older to younger.
With the company’s largest project to date, the Winery Residence at Presqu’ile Winery–which spans 250 acres in the California wine country–is a winery built from scratch and with a primary residence. Taylor and Lombardo both agree that it was exciting to work with a younger client who was open to fresh ideas. The client asked the firm to complete, “a modern masterpiece.” Taylor Lombardo did just that–-the idea was so unique that the planning commission didn’t understand it. “The home is sustainable, green fashion, and state-of-the-art,” Lombardo says.