Standing Tall: A Modern Seattle Remodel

A modernist Seattle remodel—a risky speculation home—is a testament to integrity and intention.


| September/October 2006


Seattle’s historic Magnolia neighborhood sprawls across a peninsula just south of the Ballard Locks, offering sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains and the busy shipping canal connecting Lake Union to Puget Sound. Architect David Vandervort has lived atop a hill in this community for 22 years, and he’s watched with some trepidation as massive homes have gone up on lots where much smaller houses once stood, shifting the neighborhood’s character and scale. So when the generic post-war house next door went on the market, Vandervort saw an opportunity. He could showcase his firm’s commitment to solid, sustainable design and help preserve his neighborhood’s character and integrity.

"I wanted to do something in my neighborhood that was different from some of the spec houses going up here, which are less than high quality," Vandervort says. "I wanted to create a site-sensitive, modern house. And at the same time, I could make sure that the house wouldn’t overwhelm my own yard or block our sunlight and views."

The house, which the same family had occupied since it was built in 1952, was solidly constructed but hardly a match for its fabulous site, a south-facing corner lot overlooking the canal and the Ballard Bridge. "I wanted to build a house that appreciated the land and reached out to the views and the light—without overwhelming the community," Vandervort says. A fan of the Northwest’s distinctive mid-century modern architecture, he set out to design a home that would honor "the historical architecture of the place."

Pushing the limits 

Working with Paulsen Construction, Vandervort took the home down to its concrete foundation and main floor joists, letting a few of the original walls stand and recycling much of the wood back into the new construction. He added a wing with a living room and family room, a master bedroom suite, and a stair tower that pulls in light and ventilates the home. The tower also plays with the idea of lighthouses and tugboats, an ode to the active canal below. In the living room and the master bedroom, high clerestory windows bring the low, flat Seattle light deep into the house while protecting the residents’ privacy. Terraces, decks and patios provide ample outdoor space for relaxing or entertaining.

"I wanted to play out the whole sophisticated modernist statement in its extremes," says Vandervort, who also pushed the limits on sustainable materials—which is especially risky when building a speculative house (even in progressive Seattle). "Without going over the top, we tried to use certified green materials whenever they were available."





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265