The Lone Torrey Residence, Del Mar, Calif.

Best Custom Home--4,000 to 6,000 square feet

This custom home, surrounded by 2,500 acres of nature preserve with views of the Pacific Ocean, takes complete advantage of its delicate site, marked by a uniquely sculpted Torrey Pine sitting on top of a sandstone bluff.

The home was carefully pinned to its extremely steep infill lot. A soil-nail retaining wall was built from the top down to preserve the bluff and the tree, eliminating the need for an over-cut. The site's limited flat area was reserved for the family to swim and play.

A great room on the third floor features a window wall that captures the ocean and preserves views. Clerestory windows frame light and tree branches as if they were Japanese watercolors. The judges praised the honest use of materials typically associated with commercial architecture--natural stone, wood, stainless steel, zinc, and glass.

Gold Nugget Awards
Part I
Part II
Part III

Builder/Developer: Avion Development, San Diego; Architect: Austin Veum Robbins Parshalle, San Diego

Surrey Farm, Ladera Ranch, Calif.

Best Residential Detached Project--9 du/acre or more; Best Single-Family Detached Home--under 1,700 square feet (compact lot) (Plan 3)

The residents of neo-traditional communities spend a lot of time in alleys, driving to and from their garages. Heavy commuters may view this part of their community more than its streetscape. The worst of these alleys incorporate an unyielding series of garage doors, often culminating in an uninspired view of a garage or another alley.

Best Custom Home--4,000 to 6,000 square feet
Brad Anderson Best Custom Home--4,000 to 6,000 square feet

Not so at Surrey Farm, a densely drawn alley-loaded community that stands out for its careful planning. Short alleys terminate with refreshing views of green courts. Cottage-like houses, complete with porches, balconies, and varied roof pitches, create a strong feeling of neighborhood.

Both the community and its homes won awards. Plan 3 is a mere 1,575 square feet. Yet it includes two master closets and a dual vanity bath with separate shower, rare finds in homes of this modest size. An optional third-level loft--ideal for a retreat, den, or office--adds flexibility.

Builder: Barratt American/Baywood Development, Carlsbad, Calif.; Developer: DMB Ladera, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; Architect: Scheurer Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; Land planner: Adams Streeter--Civil Engineer, Irvine, Calif.

Front Street--Plan 2, Ladera Ranch, Calif.

Best Single-Family Detached Home--2,300 square feet and over (small lot); Best Community Site Plan--0 to 15 acres

Easily one of the most innovative entries, the homes at Front Street draw a sharp and inspired line between home and work. The street facade on Plan 2, done in classic Colonial style, leads to an inviting 2,517-square-foot home with a formal living room and dining room positioned to the front. A kitchen and family room orient toward a private side courtyard.

Enter from the alleyway, however, and the home morphs into a place of business, with 696 square feet on two floors built to commercial standards. (A second plan offers home office/studio space on an upper floor.) The back porch welcomes clients into a reception area. The community is specifically zoned for businesses that require minimal customer traffic. The homes encircle a park-style meeting area for family gatherings and business meetings with clientele parking.

Builder/Developer: Standard Pacific Homes, Irvine, Calif.; Architect/Land planner: Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.

The Villas at Shady Canyon--The Allegro, Irvine, Calif.

Best Single-Family Detached Home--4,001 to 4,500 square feet

This single-story rustic farmhouse relies on an array of weather-beaten materials, including deliberately weathered brick, to achieve the look of historical California Mission-style architecture.

Best Single-Family Detached Home--4,001 to 4,500 square feet
Lance Gordon Best Single-Family Detached Home--4,001 to 4,500 square feet

Multiple courtyards in the 4,215-square-foot plan afford almost endless entertainment possibilities. The heart of the home is an oversized side courtyard marked by a large fountain and loggia. It's accessible from multiple rooms within the house, including the dining room.

The entry is marked by a wrought iron gate that leads through a breezeway to the side courtyard. The rear elevation--articulated with chimney hoods and recessed ledged windows--is as expressive as the front. Separate guest quarters include a private courtyard and a fireplace.

Builder: Taylor Woodrow Homes, Irvine, Calif.; Developer: The Irvine Co., Newport Beach, Calif.; Architect/Land planner: Robert Hidey Architects, Irvine

Sunset Village--The Monticello, Superstition Mountain, Ariz.

Best Single-Family Detached Home--4,501 to 5,000 square feet

This desert mountain home borrows so heavily from native materials that it almost disappears into the landscape. Which is no small feat considering it provides 4,592 square feet of living space.

The plan starts with a guest house just before the stone archway that leads through a covered porch, meanders past a pool court, and ultimately reaches the front door. The foyer opens to a dining courtyard with a refreshing wall fountain.

The home is built for entertaining. An oversized dining room, 22 feet long, is big enough to accommodate holiday gatherings. The kitchen is equipped with a wine bar and tasting table. Or vino can be taken out through French doors to a covered terrace overlooking the golf course.

Inside, a library bridge above the family room affords distant views. The owners' retreat, with separate his-and-her bath areas, features a separate staircase leading to an artist's garret.

Builder/Developer: Anderson Homes and Design, Superstition Mountain, Ariz.; Architect: BBG Architects, Santa Ana Heights, Calif.; Land planner: Greey/Pickett, Phoenix

Water Terrace, Marina Del Rey, Calif.

Attached Residential Project of the Year (tie)

Set on an urban site adjacent to a marina, this 450-unit high rise capitalizes on stunning views of the ocean, the dock, and the city. In the right conditions, the building's exterior walls of aqua and clear translucent glass reflect the ocean. And balconies extend the sense of seaside living.

The apartments here range from 800 to 3,500 square feet. The lobby, done with stained wood and aluminum trim, has the panache of a luxury liner or yacht. Glass stairs link the lobby levels like waterfalls. Amenities include a terrace-level pool, fitness center, and rooftop spa and fireplace.

Builder: Swinerton Builders, Los Angeles; Developer: Lincoln Property Co., Newport Beach, Calif.; Architect/Land planner: GMP Architects, Santa Monica, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA.