Three years ago, Jerome Byron, a young architectural designer in Los Angeles, got a call from landscape designer David Godshall of the AD100 firm Terremoto. He and his colleague Diego Lopez were in the midst of designing a client’s backyard in Los Feliz, and their plans included a blank box labeled “guesthouse.” Would Byron come meet the clients and take a look at the site?

The grounds were rather bare—big and open, with a stepped lawn and a few low shrubs—but they would soon be a veritable jungle, teaming with agave, cacti, palms, ferns, and other native plants. At the rear was the designated plot, some 13 by 18 feet, on which a structure would rise. “At some pointI realized, ‘Oh, wow, I’m doing my first ground-up structure,’” reflects Byron, now 33 years old, who studied architecture at Pratt and Harvard University Graduate School of Design and cut his teeth working for Francis Kéré and Barkow Leibinger.

When it’s not being used to access the sleeping loft, a custom-made ladder leads to a lush lookout.

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pLos Angelesbased architectural designer Jerome Byron inside his first groundup project an office play area and guest...

Los Angeles-based architectural designer Jerome Byron inside his first ground-up project: an office, play area, and guest space for a young family.

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The brief was playful. Clients Brandi Dougherty, a writer, and Joe Fernandez, an entrepreneur, needed a spot to work from home and stash Joe’s collection of pinball machines— maybe someplace their kids would like too. Byron’s mind immediately jumped to his own childhood hideaways. “Mine were pretty basic—a couple of two-by-fours up a tree with a little platform,” recalls the designer, who grew up in New York and Ohio. “I always had a fantasy of a really elaborate tree house.”

Now was his chance to bring that dream to life. Invisible from the street, the cedar-clad volume (a visual continuation of the decking Terremoto installed for the main house) emerges from the lush landscape, with a dynamic roofline and irregular windows. “The house appears to be floating,” explains Byron.“It’s raised about a foot and a half from the ground, with a clearing beneath it. You can see plants pop out.”

pA builtin daybed in the loft space.p

A built-in daybed in the loft space.

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To break ground at Byron’s age is no small feat, but he’s casual about the accomplishment, which marks something of a full-circle moment. In 2014, Byron moved to L.A. to work for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with one goal: Build things. At the time, he had become expert at conceiving and digitally rendering big ideas but had yet to really get his hands dirty. Learning the ropes of construction on SOM job sites, he became fascinated with materials and making things himself. A few years later, he developed a series of thin, curved stools of fiberglass-reinforced concrete, pieces he calls “a result of pure experimentation.” When a friend of a friend tapped him to design the interiors of Color Camp, a hip manicure bar on Beverly Boulevard, it was the push he needed to start his own eponymous studio. In nearly four years since, he has also worked on and off for the buzzy L.A. firm Willo Perron& Associates.

This post was originally published on Architectural Digest