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Imposing design in concrete and glass: West Seattle Residence

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West Seattle Residence is a modern house comprised of concrete, glass, and steel, designed by Lawrence Architecture, situated in the West Seattle district of Seattle, Washington. The 3,800-square-foot house sits on top of a steep hill looking westward with dramatic views of Puget Sound. It’s essentially a loft-like glass curtain wall pavilion that sits on top of an opaque and rectilinear podium next to a similarly massed 925 square foot detached garage. A road runs along the rear of the house on its opaque east side, where the main entry is. Parallel to this road is a tall concrete wall up to twenty-four feet high that shields the house and a side patio for privacy. This wall then extends to the garage and living space unit next door where the client’s parents often stay when they’re visiting, blocking views into the main house’s master bedroom and keeping family at a comfortable distance. “They didn’t want to have to put up blinds,” Lawrence says.

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The wall is also the organizing element for the circulation including the stairs with cantilevered steel treads. Supported on steel frames and  triangular steel trusses, the roof  swoops over the concrete wall capping the pavilion.  Eight by sixteen foot sections of the curtain wall pivot for ventilation.

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The house’s roof is its most engaging and formal feature. Lawrence describes the arcing shell as “springing over” the house from the rear privacy wall. The garage and loft apartment building has a similar curved roof. Both create a dynamic formal tension with the largely rectilinear buildings below.

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An interior and exterior fireplace on the north side connects the house to its patio.

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Several wood flourishes warm the inside and outside of the house. Douglas fir is used on the underside of the roof and on the ceiling of the kitchen. The opaque facades of the building are covered in metal panels. Inside, the floors are terrazzo and many of the walls are raw concrete. A steel slab floating stair adds more cool, industrial sophistication.

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The house sits on a long, rectilinear podium that contains four bedrooms, a family room, bathrooms, and a media library, occupying the daylight basement level. Upstairs, the main level is an open plan, loft-like living room and kitchen, bathed in light and air through the curtain wall’s operable windows and steel structure. The top level of the house contains the master bedroom and bath. There is additional living space above the garage accessible via stair or future elevator.

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The stair has demountable guardrails which are normally in place but were removed for the photographs.

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Photos: Benjamin Benschneider

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