Tag Archives: architecture

The Modern and the Inane

It’s time for more house porn. First, from the blog of House and Home Design, a modern lake house by Hutchison & Maul Architects.

I love how the perspective of the living room draws you to the horizon:

There are more pictures on the architect’s site.

And some ranting on not-so-beautiful McMansions by architect Jerry Gropp on Rain City Guide. He’s a man of few but scathing words: “Mercer Island and a lot of other nice places are being overrun by “Spec Builders” madly producing these oversize boxes with their wide white trim. Other tell-tale touches of their indifferent computer-driven drafting (don’t call it “design”) are the tapered posts with pasted on faux river rock.”

A study in contrasts.

Ralph Andersen on Mercer Island

We’ve talked Miller-Hull and Steinbruek, now let’s talk about another great Northwestern architect: Ralph Andersen. There are four of Ralph’s homes for sale on the Island– we can use the listing photos to look inside.

Island Crest Way

A small Ralph Andersen home built in 1983. It’s not much to look at on the outside but it’s got a gorgeous interior with great views.


Ralph Andersen loved those big windows. So do I.


Nice open floorplan. Sweet views.

And it’s the least expensive of these homes, at $945k.

Island Point

This home still has the Ralph Andersen bones, but when the agent says it’s been “updated for today’s lifestyle” it’s true. It seems to have lost a bit of character in the remodel, but you can still see classic Andersen touches: the vaulted ceiling, tall windows in the door, and generous windows. And it’s pricey- $2.6 million.


Remodeled, but the door and hanging lamp give it away.

81st Ave

Classic Ralph Andersen exterior. He really knew how to make a house work with its surroundings. Bad photos on this one, so we can’t see much inside, but we can see it’s going for $1.95 million. For that money, I’d take better pictures.


I can almost hear the birds and the window washers singing.


This 1964 mid-Island home by Ralph Andersen sold last year.


Angles, large entryway, garden. Classic Andersen.


Windows & cedar.

Lindley Rd

This one, a 1963 Ralph Andersen on a large lot, is all Northwest.


Geometric, but not harsh.

Not updated too much. It’s like a Ralph Andersen textbook.


Spacious entryways with arches and stone.


High vaulted cielings, open spaces, & cedar.


Dramatic staircase. And that lantern again!

We’re lucky to have some great design on the Island. The McMansions are attacking, but they haven’t won yet.

Sweet Mercer Island Home on the Contemporist

The Contemporist, a beautiful design blog, this week featured a Mercer Island home designed by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.

It’s a bit industrial– not quite my style. Despite the concrete and steel, it’s still elegant.


Go to the original post for more eye candy.

Steinbruiek’s Old Drawings of West Mercer Way

At a used bookstore clearance sale in Capitol Hill I came across Seattle Cityscape (U of W press, 1962) by Victor Steibrueck, University of Washington architecture maven. “Through ink sketches and critical observations, the author seeks to portray and establish the unique character and color of Seattle’s physical environment.” Of course I bought it.

Two are houses on West Mercer Way. Here’s the first with the author’s comments:

West Mercer Way on Mercer Island is a showcase of well-designed residential architecture. One of the most pleasing is the home of Dr. and Mrs. Cyrus Rubin at 6105 Southeast Thirty-second Street, designed by architects Ibsen Nelson and Russel Sabin. It is a thoughtful and personal style of home, pleasantly landscaped, which speaks well for both architect and client.  (p. 164)

And the second. I love how the folaige runs out of the frame of the picture.

Architect Paul Hayden Kirk designed this excellent comtemporary wooden house, located in the woods at 4157 West Mercer Way, for his brother, Blair Kirk. It show masterful spatial design and composition, and fine knowledge of wood construction as a design consideration, while confidently making the best of a natural setting. (p. 166)

“Old” in the context of Seattle history is somewhat a loaded term, as I discovered in a Pioneer Square old book shop when I asked for old maps of Seattle. “There aren’t really an old maps of Seattle,” the bookeeper said, “since the fist maps were made on Vancouver’s journey here in the 17oo’s.” I then listened patiently as he explained the history of European exploration of the Pacific Northwest, and then told me he had no maps. So I feel comfortable using “old” here in the PNW to refer to the 1960s. Apologies to my mother, who I don’t consider “old” but who is considerably older than the 1960s.

We’ve got some excellent architecture on the Island, and some monsters. What are your favorites?

Miller-Hull on Mercer Island

Today’s house porn comes courtesy of the Contemporist, which found a beautiful Miller-Hull designed house for sale. I haven’t copied the picture, but here’s the real estate agent’s listing, and here it is on Redfin if you want to see it on the map: 5340 Butterworth Rd.

This house won several awards, but Seattle Bubble readers called it fugly.

Turns out Miller-Hull has been active around here. They’ve done another Mercer Island house:

and this one should look familiar, it’s the Mercer Island Community Center:

They’ve got some other beautiful projects around the Puget Sound area, like the South Lake Union Discovery Center and Olympic College in Paulsbo. I covet the Novotny Cabin in the San Juans:

Photo credit for all the photos above from the Miller-Hull website.

To me these designs are graceful and clean. But as mentioned above, others found them fugly. Other thoughts?