When the owners, a couple with five children between them with one still living at home, purchased the overgrown, approximately 1.5-acre property, located in the tree-lined Seattle neighborhood of Washington Park with views of Mount Rainer, Lake Washington, and the Bellevue skyline, it contained a charming but modest traditional house and guest cottage in need of repair. The architects spent time pursuing the possibility of a remodel and addition, but the state of the house and site made this option unfeasible. The ensuing design stemmed from a combination of reverence for the original house and site and Domestic Architecture’s theoretical studies of how memory manifests itself in contemporary forms.
Design concept and solution: At 6,500-square-feet, this house is scaled down from the owners’ previous home. The owners are significantly involved in the Seattle contemporary art community, and their collection, which they change several times a year, varies from small drawings to large sculptural and video art. The program for the house consisted of 5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 2 separate home offices, a TV room, living room, dining room with seating for 12, a large kitchen with attached family room, and lots of room for displaying art. This program would accommodate the owners’ intention to host frequent gatherings that range in size from intimate dinners to large events.
The street facade and overall material choices are largely referential to the original house, which was deliberately designed to both fit in with its neighbors while remaining distinct. Inside, many traditional components and details of the existing were reinterpreted in an abstract and contemporary way. However, in contrast to the original house, the new layout is a complete departure. The plan takes advantage of the panoramic views while bending in small increments across the top of the hill a full 90 degrees. The east view side of the house is on the outside of the arc and has many large windows to allow for expansive views. The west side of the house arcs inward with more carefully chosen and regular windows, and when paired with the garage, frames an irregular oval-shaped motor court. On the main floor there are circulation areas on both the inside and outside of the plan. These corridors are punctuated by two sets of stairs that allow for a dynamic means of choreographed movement throughout the house.
The detailing of the house is familiar, the implementation of the details, which is forced to bend with the plan, is deliberately out of scale and always non-standard, and creates a new sense of some kind of “otherness.” It is as if you remember this house, but you know you have never been there. The overall design is an attempt to create a sculptural form that can be considered both as an independent piece, and a neutral background for art.
Total construction cost:
1422 34th Ave.
Seattle, Washington 98122
Roy McMakin, Principal in charge of Design
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Conventional wood platform framing with intermittent steel beams and posts
Paints and stains: