Case Studies

510 East State Street, Rockford, Illinois

This 12,000 sq. ft. 1880 Queen Anne is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.  It was originally a carriage manufacturing facility and later became a grocery store and pharmacy before being used for decades for storage. Busch removed plaster from the brick walls, and then sandblasted and sealed them; he removed old tile and paint to reveal the original red oak floors, which he then refinished. His crew salvaged the original tin ceilings and reinstalled them in appropriate areas.  The original bronze door and window hardware was stripped and polished.  New dual-glazed windows were installed in custom wood window frames with the original hardware.  The original cast steel window seat on the second floor was so large it had a baby grand piano and a seating area on its raised 8′ x 24′ deck overlooking one of the main streets of the town.  Busch designed a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system, which cut down on energy costs.  The 3,000 sq. ft. main upstairs living quarters had 20 ft. tin ceilings, brick walls with steel catwalks, and ship’s ladders to sleeping lofts above private bedrooms.  All rooms, lofts, and walls were built from the reclaimed lumber in the building.  The bookcases and cabinetry were built from the unused original door panels, cut in half.  When completed, the loft slept 4 people and had 147 pieces of art hung floor to ceiling, salon-style. View photo gallery


2126 3rd Street, Santa Monica, CA

This 1914 7-unit cozy courtyard building was rented and in horrible shape. Many of the units were dry-rotted and had mold. Busch paid the tenants to move, and designed a single-family residence. He added a two-car garage, and above it a master suite and new family room. The original charm of the property was maintained throughout. Busch reworked the original concrete courtyard, removing the concrete before landscaping and installing a fountain with a koi pond. Busch repaired the original steel windows and found duplicate windows for the addition. New electric, plumbing, and heating/cooling systems were installed. The original Model “T” garage became the entry foyer for the home, which was reconstructed with a 16 ft. ceiling and cantilevered over and into the dining room on one side and the living room on the other.  This allowed natural light to filter in to all three spaces with an elaborate beamed ceiling and custom windows.  Busch created a large working kitchen with a butcher block prep and dining table and cozy fireplace/pizza oven. There are four bedroom suites with their own baths. View photo gallery


County Line, Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA

The original beach home was built in the ’50s and poorly maintained.  The client wanted a new weekend beach home.  Busch designed a new living room/dining/kitchen area and master bedroom suite  facing the ocean. New caissons and steel replaced the old dry-rotted living room with its 8 ft. ceilings. The new living room, dining room, and kitchen have 12 ft. ceilings with 12 ft. Nano doors which open to the deck overlooking the ocean. The master bedroom suite has a custom marble free-form tub that was craned into place and a full-sized bathroom ceiling skylight. The master bedroom and living room have custom-designed steel fireplaces. The home has a media room and two additional bedroom suites. The roof deck has a fireplace and full BBQ area with sink and refrigerator. There is a poured-in-place custom sitting area under the living room on the sand with lighting and a sound system. The client’s extensive art collection was lit with museum-quality focusing projection lights in the ceilings. The central stairwell core was designed as a thermal chimney and creates exceptional sea breezes all year long. There is a full wine cellar and smart house control room under the floating custom staircase in the foyer. The house is controlled by computers which can close blinds and drapes automatically and open foyer upper windows to remove excess heat. The owner can control lighting and heating/air, as well as check the numerous hidden security cameras, from anywhere in the world. View photo gallery


Hightree, Santa Monica Canyon, CA

This 1947 single-story, all-redwood, small rectangular home was converted into a two-story, four-bedroom-suite home with office, media room, guest suite, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The original redwood was painstakingly removed and re-planed and used as the exterior of the second floor. The front of the home looks like it floats above the foyer, with a floor-to-ceiling glass entry. The gourmet kitchen and dining room (which seats 12 comfortably) have private views of the redwoods and ferns throughout the property.  A stream was created that starts at a pond with a waterfall and meanders under a bridge to the front door. The original concrete patios were jackhammered out and used as retaining walls to give three-dimensionality to the landscape. It was important to Busch that the house stayed intact and the second floor seemed to be set down on top of the original home. The second-story bedrooms and master suite make you feel you are in a treehouse overlooking the redwood forest. View photo gallery


Linda Vista, Pasadena, CA

The client, who is part Japanese and part Italian, wanted a home to reflect his heritage. This 1953 modern home had been renovated several times,  losing its original character. Busch added a master suite with bath and another guest suite, and brought back the original character of the home, including duplicating the rounded corner of the dining room in the master bath area. Busch redirected the entry traffic and relocated the kitchen. As one enters up the stairs to the raised-deck entry patio, there is a reflection pond cascading down and under a bridge into the pool. The pool was re-plastered and redwood decking was put atop the concrete to warm up the yard. Extensive landscaping and bamboo fencing created the feel of a Japanese garden, with plantings including Japanese maples. View photo gallery


Trancas Canyon Compound

This ground-up home is sited on 10 acres on the top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with 360-degree views encompassing white water and the Santa Monica Mountains. The home cantilevers over the edges of the mountain, providing breathtaking views in all directions. It receives all-day illumination through oversized windows and 14-ft. sliding doors. At night the large skylights and retractable roof in the master bedroom allow moonlight to illuminate the interior. This smart house has blinds and shades that close and open automatically to cut down on heat gain and strong light. Lights, heating/cooling, the hot tub and swimming pool, and the security system can be controlled from anywhere in the world. Footage from security cameras can be viewed on any computer or smartphone. This home is on 26 caissons and has a 248,000 lb. steel structure. The home consists of a 1,250 sq. ft. master suite, living room with custom poured concrete and cantilevered fireplace that separates the living room from the dining room, and a gourmet kitchen with two large prep islands, marble custom sink, and dual dishwashers. All cabinetry was custom-designed and built to the owner’s specifications. The house was designed to house the client’s extensive art collection. The media room has a Dolby Digital 7.1 THX sound system with 65″ plasma and a drop-down 145″ screen with a state-of- the-art projector.  The walls of the media room are covered in leather to deaden sound. The oversized second bedroom was used by the client’s wife as an office and gym and has a full bath and steam shower. There are steel window seats which cantilever out of the rooms at angles to the views.  The house also has planted roofs with herb gardens and water roofs with floating patios to keep the home cooler and to protect against fires. There is a planted child’s maze on top of the garage which leads to a Gwynn Murrill bronze sculpture of a puma.

The Busch Design Studio is a ground-up 4,000 sq. ft. project floating in the middle of koi and turtle rescue ponds, one water-falling into the other.  The studio was sited to take advantage of northern light and mountain views. One enters the two-story reception area with living walls and views of the ocean and koi ponds. The main floor has a kitchen, large multi-use office space with several custom-designed work/seating areas, and a state-of-the-art conference room with surround sound. The darkroom is hidden between the gallery and a private office, with flat files across the entire expanse. There are two full-wall glass garage doors which are kept open most of the year for fresh air and to feed cool air over the pond through the building and into the two-story reception-area thermal chimney. There is a second-floor guest suite with kitchen, dining and living rooms, and a master bedroom with onyx bathroom. All of the second-floor floors are distressed walnut, bleached and re-stained to a neutral dark pallete. There is a second-floor deck overlooking the ocean with a see-through fireplace into the guest living room. There is also a second-floor private office with leather floors and a private glass bath.

This amazing home took five years, three architects, and more than 1,000 detail drawings to design. It has been published all over the world.  

View photo gallery


PIX Camera Store

The original store had a bow truss 20 ft. ceiling and was a used as a warehouse. Pix is a 24-7 camera store and rental facility. Security and ease of moving equipment in and out was important. This 5,000 sq. ft. space was sandblasted to the original brick. The bow trusses were sandblasted as well and then sealed. Busch designed custom counters and equipment racks to make lugging the heavy equipment easier. The counters were designed like airport luggage counters, thus removing the need to lift heavy equipment onto them. The custom cabinetry and counters were constructed of FinPly, a durable material, and edge trim to protect the counters. A photographic gallery was situated in the middle with a cappuccino bar and lounge. The offices floated above the sales floor with observation windows. Skylights were added to illuminate the floor without additional light during the day. Large roll-up doors were added to load movie trucks and vans. The front of the space housed the retail camera and film counters and refrigerators. View photo gallery