In architecture, it’s always wise tolet the site guide your path. Rather than fighting the pie-shaped lot for this Seattle home, architect Thomas Lawrence let it inform his design. The result is a light-filled glass and steel masterstroke.
Lawrence faced many challenges en route to the completed home, including a steep slope with the potential for slides, a wildlife habitat, an estuary, and several setbacks. Analyzing the conditions, the architect used a cast concrete wall measuring up to 24-feet high as an organizing element. He placed the garage, entry, and service areas on the street side of the wall, and located the main house on the water-facing side. The three-story home consists of four bedrooms, a family room, and a library in the basement; a large open-plan living space on the second level; and a loft space containing the master bedroom above the kitchen.
As simple as it comes, the house is made from an exposed structural steel frame with a curtain wall system enclosing the main double-height living pavilion. The glass system provides unobstructed views to Elliott Bay, but because there is no air-conditioning system, large wall sections measuring 8 feet by 16 feet pivot to bring in fresh air and ventilation.
Inside, the home is all about views and light and a simple materials palette. The terrazzo floor with embedded radiant heat anchors the space, while Douglas fir decking lines the ceiling for warmth. Lawrence also specified a generous amount of metal work, including an ingenious staircase made from rods cast into the main concrete wall and fitted with steel tubes to form the treads.
The home, built for a contractor who does high-end commercial and residential work, turned out to be a dream commission for Lawrence’s firm, and the hope is that it could lead to more such projects. “We haven’t done a house quite like this before or since,” Lawrence says. “But we would really like to.”