Ilan-Lael – The Place

The Place

Ilan-Lael “the place” consists of eight structures designed and built by James Hubbell and located on 40 acres near Santa Ysabel, CA. Ilan-Lael currently serves as the home of James and Anne Hubbell, and is the location of Hubbell art studio. It is also home to the Ilan-Lael Foundation, which serves as an art education and nature center; a gathering place for artists and friends; and a retreat space for like-minded people and organizations seeking inspiration in beauty, art, and natural surroundings.

Building From The Earth Up

The intent was to create a home that appeared to grow out of the landscape and blend naturally with the gifts of nature. Granite boulders, soft oak-shaded hills with russet etchings of manzanita influenced the design. Buildings were to fit into the landscape, using existing trees and rocks as precious objects to build around. No bulldozers were used and footings were hand-dug. Trees, wildflowers and brush were kept and appreciated for their beauty without irrigation.

James’ Studio

The first building, now called James’ studio, served as the family’s first home. Built in 1958 with stone from the land, adobe bricks, and cedar from a sawmill in Julian, this one-room home housed James, Anne and their growing family. A temporary closed in kitchen was located on the porch, and Anne cooked and washed dishes in her winter coat.

Living, Dining And Kitchen Area

In 1962, a second structure was built next to the first, which became a living, dining, and kitchen area. Mexican and Italian mosaic tile flowed over kitchen countertops, window and doorsills. The cedar floor was held tight with hand-forged nails found in an antique shop in New Jersey. Large, view windows on the west side of the living room were supported by a reinforced steel and concrete column covered by adobe. Wisteria, the leafy, deciduous vine outside the windows, allowed more shade in summer, warming sun in the winter, and heart-lifting beauty in the spring with its clusters of pale lavender. Clerestory windows to the roof allow the ceiling to “float” and let in additional light. Furniture, light fixtures, clothes racks are all homemade. Nothing is painted. Hand-forged hardware adorns most of the doors and sculptural or “found” wood objects become doorknobs.

Master Bedroom

The first freeform sculptural building to be done by hand, its hand-dug footings allowed the slope of the land to remain. It houses a bedroom, bathroom, and Anne’s private study. The flat roof above the study is a place to enjoy the view and sleep outside under the stars on hot summer nights.

The Big Studio

Steel rib construction with six inch “I” beams were used for the first time at Ilan-Lael in this building. This was covered with a network of re-bar and plaster wire and looked like a gigantic silver cobweb before it was sprayed with a cement-plaster cloak in 1965. This large interior space serves as the main work studio for Hubbell Art Studios.


The Boy’s House

When Hubbell asked his four sons which they would like to have first, a bedroom or a pool, they unanimously chose a pool.  The boy’s house was well worth the wait.  This habitable sculpture took eight years to complete.  Pools of glass and mosaic tile flow throughout.  Windows and doors stream light through stained glass.  There is an unusual amount of clay expression with many figures growing out of the space.   The Boy’s House was only slightly damaged during the fire when a burned limb crashed through the leaded-glass window in the bathroom.    James and Anne made this their home during the rebuilding years after the fire.

The Small Studio

Built in 1982, it serves as Jim’s business office and place for staff to work.  The big south window-doors are placed for maximum warmth in winter, and open in summer to allow cooling breezes to flow through.


The Chapel

The Chapel structure was constructed by James Hubbell and 13 students in the summer of 2009.  Embellished with mosaic, stone, and glass elements, this Chapel/Quiet Space is a place of incomparable beauty, completely in tune with nature and the unique character of Ilan-Lael.