Some years ago, San Francisco architect John Maniscalco came across one of those opportunities that demand a certain stamina: an aging two-story house was available for a relative bargain price but required lengthy negotiations with the city’s historic-preservation board in order to overhaul. But its location—directly bordering the national parklands of the Presidio—was ideal for his family’s vision of “a country house in the city,” as he describes it. Indeed, the resulting 5,400-square-foot residence emphasizes connection to the outdoors to a degree that would be notable even in a rural setting.
To take advantage of the expansive views, the architect flipped the floor plan, putting the bedrooms on the ground floor and moving the common spaces up to the second level. The kitchen, which functions as both the light core and the spatial core of the house, opens to the sky above with its 24-by-12-foot glass ceiling. A 17-foot-long kitchen island, with a prep sink at one end and casual seating for six at the other, defines the space. A separate counter with a large sink and double dishwasher overlooks the rear garden, providing an intimate view of lush greenery.