Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The World's Most Expensive House

Click to see large image.
Larry Ellison, CEO of the database giant, Oracle, has the most expensive home in the world, currently valued at $170 million.

The size itself isn't so impressive, but the building technique is: It is a Japanese style compound using 400-year-old building methods (no nails) while at the same time being hyper-modern in the walls and behind the scenes... all while taking into account that the house is located half a mile away from the San Andreas fault.
There are more than 7 miles of underground utilities on the property. The garages, which hold a modest half-dozen cars, will also be underground, as will tunnels to allow the household staff to go unobtrusively about their duties. Golf carts will traverse unpaved paths to bring fresh linens and victuals to the guest houses.

The original cost estimate was $40 million, but the new figure should be enough, Mr. Morrison says, "to do everything the way it's supposed to be done."

That includes facing concrete bridge pillars with imported Chinese granite well below the water line, where, it can be presumed, they'll never be seen.

Designing the retreat, which was done in large part by Paul Discoe, an ordained Zen priest, may have been the easiest part of all. Actually figuring out how to build it has taken numerous trips to Japan, long searches for people who have worked on similar projects, and countless hours of research.

"It's an intellectual challenge for everyone," Mr. Morrison says.

Take, for example, the stone bridge that will serve as a gateway to the property. Mr. Morrison said the bridge was designed on a computer, with the size and placement of each rock plotted out. A large-scale model helped determine how to attach the stones, where to place them, and even how wide the joints should be "so it looked handmade but not too rustic," he says.

Once the design was perfected, a full-size template was printed out and shipped to China, where skilled craftsmen cut each piece of granite to fit the templates, built the bridge, then disassembled it and shipped it back to Woodside, where it is now being reassembled.

(Read the whole article here.)
Still though, if I had my choice, I'd take Oprah's $80 million house sitting on 40 acres of Santa Barbara hillside looking south onto the Channel Islands... plus $90 million in cash.

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