Residential: Remodel | smaller, condo | comprehensive, Italian Villa | New construction | small scale Contemporary Residence | large scale Grand Summer Residence | Commercial: | Lakeside Industries | Mill Creek Shopping Center | Mixed Use: | Broadway Apartments | Intella |
Remodel, Smaller, Condo
This 2,700-square-foot penthouse condominium is located in a building that is a ‘70’s interpretation of French Neo-classicism. Rather than take issue with this architecture, the owners were willing to play along with the illusion, allowing some vestiges of it to co-exist with their new design. They embraced our Hollywood script about renovating “an old Paris apartment in a crisp contemporary style,” including adding an eclectic collection of furnishing—some reminiscent of treasures that one might find in a flea market or along the West Bank.
We wanted to free up what had been a rabbit’s warren of square-ish rooms and find ways to allow spaces to flow, blend, and bend. For example, a previously dark corridor leading from the entrance was transformed into a brightly lit gallery for art. Niches and angled walls now seamlessly give way to the library. The true vestibule is welcoming with its skylight in the shape of a canoe, and a 1929 Steinway grand piano occupies center stage, with its curvilinear form gently directing one towards the living room. Other special effects include a spacious Roman-style, master bath; a grand fireplace; and a stainless cross-column, mimicking that of architect Mies Van der Rohe’s 1929 Barcelona Pavilion.
Remodel, Comprehensive, Italian Villa
This design recaptures treasured memories of travels in Italy and gazing out upon the Mediterranean Sea from a balcony at sunset. The house intentionally takes its inspiration from the great Palladian Villas of the 15th century. And one would never know that in order to preserve the home’s proximity to the water, the final design had to “grandfather” in the footprint, and thoroughly incorporate, the ‘50’s ranch-style home that existed on the site beforehand!
To take best advantage of summer in Seattle, we carefully designed spaces that are protected and capture every last ray of sunlight. The high roof terrace is often the first destination to dazzle new visitors, since it is reached by elevator from the main entry. It is both an observation deck and a secret hide-away for enjoying the sun. After taking in the view, one can descend a “secret” passageway and emerge through an invisible panel into the second floor media and living area.
Cast stone balustrades and fireplace surrounds, stone paving flowing to numerous balconies and terraces, a courtyard, plaster walls inside and out, and clay roof tiles—each of these touches reinforces an experience of permanence and timelessness. Each is also a practical response to an exposed, ocean-side location where weather can sometimes be harsh.
New Construction, Small Scale, Contemporary Residence
A challenge from the start, this project’s success depended on creative collaboration between architect and client. According to many, the steep topography and resulting restrictions on the development area rendered the site “un-buildable.” To overcome the limited allowable footprint, we designed a solution that extended vertically to the height limit. This practical step resulted in a very exciting home.
Steep slopes meant that the house would look out over the tops of protected trees and to dense vegetation beyond. The massing, weighted to the upper floors, actually gave the house a hovering, floating quality, which conjured the romance and informal, ad hoc form of a tree house. We gave this sophisticated, yet whimsical feel emphasis by designing artful bridging from the street to the garage and to the entry.
New Construction, Large Scale, Grand Summer Residence
This lovely home actually consists of two distinctly different sides: the entry, which is intimate and public, and the more expansive and private side that embraces the enormity of Lake Washington and its surrounding territory. The residence’s stone, shingle, and slate with copper accents reflect the pastoral, 19th-century architectural styling of summer homes in Newport and on the north shore of Long Island. Generous terraces and covered porches round out the vintage design. And beneath the stylistic “clothing,” we included state-of-the-art mechanical systems at the core of the structure.
As seamlessly as this home appears to fit the surrounding area, the project involved some fairly daunting design and engineering challenges. The majority of the site was an environmentally sensitive and steep slope, which meant only the upper third was available for development. In addition, while the owners had “big house” needs, they wanted their home to blend in with the historical neighborhood.
In the end, we settled on a “V-shaped” plan for several reasons. The apex of the “V” presents an entry façade that’s in scale with other homes near the site. The V-shape also allowed us to provide gorgeous lake views from all principal rooms. And finally, because of the sloping topography, the unique design meant we could accommodate parking for three cars at the lower level, completely out of view from the approach side of the house–an unusual feat for such a limited urban site.
The Lakeside Office Headquarters
Many of our projects require that we address complex problems as we create our distinctive designs. Initially, this project was a feasibility study of low urgency. Our clients hoped to eventually develop a 60,000 sq. ft. office headquarters building on vacant, steeply sloping land along the freeway. However, in the design process, we discovered pending changes in zoning rules that threatened to remove all rights to develop the property after 90 days.
With a new focus, we drafted a design that demonstrated that the development, together with new and preserved vegetation, would actually provide a more effective separation between the residential and commercial/freeway than fallow land. Also, the plans showed that, despite requisite parking and inherent engineering complexities, the building could be developed on a scale that created economy.
The resulting architecture appears modern, but is tied to the great heroic classical building models in history. The office space is raised up on piloti, a system of supporting columns, to afford the best views. And our final design uses an innovative two-tier stacked and terraced parking that works beautifully with the topography and consolidates a majority of the parking undercover and up and away from public view.
We were proud that we could serve our clients’ needs so effectively. By actively participating in the neighborhood’s design review process and coordinating teams of experts in securing a building permit, we produced a building design with a strong idea that was uniquely suited to the site. And we accomplished all this in just 90 days.
Mill Creek Shopping Center
Owners of Mill Creek Center, a very successful shopping center project, wished to expand their involvement in real estate development. This parcel was a remaining segment of the large neighborhood shopping mall. It backed onto an environmentally protected retention pond and residential neighborhood.
Our final design made use of a cost efficient tilt-up slab technology. The architectural adornments transformed the building from a simple box into an early 20th-century Spanish Mission style, recalling the chic shopping districts of Boca Raton or Kansas City. The building’s owners rightly insisted on generous, covered pedestrian areas, good lighting and a structured program for building signage. As a result, the building commands attention and stands apart from the visually congested Mill Creek shopping environment.
Rather than compete with the recent experimental designs in the neighborhood, we envisioned a building that could trace its roots to the grand old Capitol Hill apartments of the early 20th century. By the same token, a studied, though sparing application of detail would address the fairly strict design parameters of the city and of financial institutions that tend to drive today’s construction market.
The apartment building’s corner site afforded opportunity, but also demanded special attention. This site mediates between a commercial pedestrian strip and a quieter residential zone. The new building consists of 75% two-bedroom and 25% one-bedroom apartments over retail and professional office space and over underground parking. Upper floors offer expansive views.
The unique location allows for down-street views in two directions and, fortunately, for public space. Special consideration was given to landscaping what had been a vacant expanse of asphalt. We wanted the area to resemble a public square in London. We believe this both complements the design and contributes back to the neighborhood.
The noted anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” The Intella Building design began as a simple sketch problem to raise the “esprit de corps” inside our office. At the same time, we hoped to contribute something of value to the International District community with our efforts.
We were delighted when the project quickly gathered momentum. First, commercial real estate agents stepped in to list and tie up the property. Then a feature article in The Daily Journal of Commerce helped spur numerous phone conversations and meetings with a major general contractor and developers. We eventually appeared before the International District Review Board, and a year later, were interviewed and quoted in an article in the Sunday Real Estate Section of the New York Times.
Although we were unable to secure funding to acquire the site, and thus see our vision built, we learned more about the invaluable role architects play as “drafters of visions.” We also learned that individuals can make a significant difference in the quality of a community.