Where does Anthony Russo—who, co-directed with his brother four Marvel movies, including the highest-grossing movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame—go to decompress? Into the wilds of Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains, where his 1900s cabin awaits with the promise of off-the-grid solitude, Thanos-style.
Russo’s stone-clad retreat was originally built as part of the U.S. Forest Services’ program to promote responsible land use. The sought-after director was captivated by the idea of having a remote place to escape to, away from the constant hum of cell phone alerts and the complexities of modern life. But while he was more than willing to rough it, he preferred to do it in style. Enter Commune Design, whose work for the Ace Hotels had caught his eye, he told AD in a recent interview.
The footprint of the structure measures just 600 square feet, so one would be forgiven for assuming this must have been a small and fast project for Commune. Building and renovating in an isolated area accessible only by a canyon trail, though, meant everything had to be brought in by foot either via a hand-built wheel barrel or pack mule. “We started the project in fall 2017,” Steven Johanknecht of Commune tells us. “Most of it was completed by fall 2019.”
Yes, it’s still a work in progress; the storage and shower sheds aren’t quite completed yet. But thankfully, Johanknecht’s client knows a thing or two about complex projects.
Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson, courtesy of Commune Design.