LOS ANGELES — High on a ridge here, up a series of winding roads from Sunset Boulevard, up where coyotes skulk into backyards, up and away from the sprawling megalopolis of nearly four million people, Joel Simkhai recently bought himself a tear-down.
The house is a white cube, three bedrooms and two baths. There is a pergola and there is an oval pool. The pergola and the oval pool and the ugly white cube do not much matter because the house was purchased for one reason — and that is its 15,911-square-foot lot.
From this multimillion-dollar apron of land overlooking Los Angeles can be seen a commanding panorama. It extends in a broad and vertiginous sweep from the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains across the flat Los Angeles Basin, east to the high-rises of downtown and west to the scimitar arc of the Pacific coastline.