Our Laguna: It was a dog-eat-dog competition

August 25, 2011|By Barbara Diamond
  • A builder looks at the handiwork of one of the dog houses designed by Morris Skendarian during the Laguna Board of Realtors' Project Pet House event at Art-A-Fair.
A builder looks at the handiwork of one of the dog houses… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

If you think Laguna has some architectural gems, wait until you see the gems created by some of Laguna's top architects and their contractors who competed for "Best of Show" in the inaugural Project Pet House fundraiser.

The team of Morris Skenderian and Don McKeehan were the top dogs, according to a panel of judges that included Mayor Toni Iseman, City Manager John Pietig, Laguna Art Museum Director Bolton Colburn and Laguna Board of Realtors President Nancy Pooley.

But the real judges will be the bidders on the houses. Six dog houses and one "Cattage" are up for auction. The proceeds will be added to the pot raised at the 15th annual Chili Cook-off and Pet Parade, presented by the Laguna Board of Realtors & Affiliates on Sept. 11.

The houses were unveiled — literally — last week at Tivoli Too.

The competition was keen.

"There will be an appeal if there are any violations of setbacks (distance required from property lines) or height limits," Skenderian warned before the judging.


In response, competing architect Marshall Ininns demanded to know the whereabouts of Larry Nokes, an attorney who frequently represents clients in appeals to the City Council.

City Zoning Administrator Liane Schuller was at the unveiling, just in case.

The pet houses were judged for design, functionality, creativity and craftsmanship.

Skenderian's sleek penthouse design was constructed of finished wood, stainless steel and a porthole window in the top story, on a raised deck with a covered space for food and water dishes. He called it the "Bow House," a play on the Bauhaus design aesthetic.

Second-place honors went to Ininns and his architect son, Matthew, and contractor Ken Fischbeck. Their entry was a whimsical cottage, with white-framed windows, cedar siding, a balcony, a peaked shake-shingle roof and double front doors inviting your pet to come in and relax.

The design was inspired by the Witch's House in North Laguna, the younger Ininns said.

Architects and builders Donna Ballard and Kacey Zantos dubbed their third-place finisher "Bowhaus."

The modern, octagonal, steel-framed structure featured a "green" roof, a closet for doggie equipment, a "medicine cabinet" with wheat grass, a toy box and a "kitchen" for bowls of water and food.

The lone accommodation for cats entered in the competition won the hearts of the folks at the unveiling and was voted "People's Choice Winner."

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