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Stuart Silk Architects designs the Union Bay Residence in Seattle, Washington

Project name:
Union Bay Residence
Architecture firm:
Stuart Silk Architects
Seattle, Washington
Kevin Scott
Principal architect:
Design team:
Interior Furnishings: Stuart Silk Architects
Interior design:
Built area:
12,000 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Land Morphology
Tools used:
Toth Construction
Brick, concrete, glass, wood, stone
Residential › House

Stuart Silk Architects: This new home is located on Lake Washington in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle. The gently sloping site faces south with views of the lake and territorial views of Seattle. The clients wished to create a light-filled home that would accommodate the needs of their growing family of five and allow them to entertain comfortably. In response, we created a home with an open plan featuring a centrally located two-story living room at its heart. The kitchen and family room share the same open space and are immediately adjacent to the living room. On the second floor, an overlooking walkway is open to the living room and connects the bedrooms which flank either side of the living room. The 12,000-square-foot home is accommodating to both intimate family gatherings as well as entertaining friends interactively.

Because this home is in an established, dense residential neighborhood, the design limits the amount of glass facing the street side to provide privacy. Concerned about a blank wall with too few windows, two wood-clad bays were introduced to modulate the facade and create a sculptural three-dimensionality to the home.

The exterior features two materials: brick for the ground floor, and cedar siding on the upper floor to establish a hierarchy between the upper two levels of the home and to create a generative syntax for the architecture. Conversely, on the south side, the house features as much glass as possible to maximize the panoramic views of Mt. Rainier to the south and the Olympic mountains to the west. The window system was selected for its ability to span long distances with minimal framework to ensure visibility. In the living room, a 30-feet-long-by-10-feet-tall high-performance glass window wall runs the entire length of the room. Each panel is operated electronically for ease of use.

Inside, the central stairway forms a sculpture-like floating ribbon and connects the upper bedroom level and the lower floor containing the entertainment, media, and playroom which spill out to a large terrace with swimming pool and spa. The rails are clad in dark stained oak while the treads and risers are dark marble.

The interior aesthetic is precise and tailored. The home’s structural grid is partially revealed inside the home, helping to define and articulate spaces. Materials are earthy, with tones recalling beach sand and the forest floor. The lower portions of the dark-stained wood columns in the entry and living room are wrapped in patinated steel, adding a layer of sophistication and materiality. 

The living room fireplace picks up on this visual device, featuring steel below and painted plaster above. Furnishings are comfy and family friendly. Custom elements include built-ins, selected bedrooms, and occasional furnishings. Comfort is assured via radiant heating which runs powered by an environmentally efficient geothermal system. In the primary bathroom, a deep cone-shaped oculus is centered over the floating bathtub to create a dramatic effect as the light rakes the mosaic tile on the circular wall framing the bathtub. Access to the primary closet is directly through the bathroom with framed views of the skylight and bathtub. The closet doubles as a comfortable sitting room and an additional place to hang out while dressing.

Outside, the terracing of the yard on the lakeside of the house provides much-needed play areas for the kids. A path to the lake and a new cove were designed for easy access to the shoreline and to enhance the shoreline in support of salmon habitat.

By Liliana Alvarez

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