Pacific Rim Estate

Bellevue, Washington

 
Slipped into a precipitous hillside, this residential compound is composed of semipublic and private spaces scattered over a narrow waterfront site. The architecture integrates environmental sensitivity with an elaborate program and advanced computer technology.

A sod-covered guesthouse is sited at the highest point of the property. Invisible on approach and entered between two concrete walls, the building is choreographed to give a sense of moving through the earth to discover the distant lake and mountains.

Hidden beneath the forest, the underground garage is revealed only after driving over its roof and onto a heavy timber trestle that passes the open face of the structure. A long skylight slipped between concrete walls brings daylight to the rear of the garage and sends soft light up to the drive at night, suggesting what lies below. The lid of the twenty-vehicle space is supported by great concrete arches; the ceiling is broken away to expose the roof shape which follows the angle of the hillside above.

Past the garage, a massive, curved wood retaining wall and canopy define the stone entry court that leads to reception spaces in the main house. At the lowest level, an indoor swimming pool overlooks a wetland and the lake. A stone and wood anteroom, with shower and sauna, precedes the light-filled pool space. Covered with grass, the pool's roof is supported by timber framing; canted columns are positioned at its northeast corner to support the heaviest load of soil and logs.

Embedded in the landscape and revealing the nature of its site and materials, the Pacific Rim Estate embodies the spirit of the Northwest. It is at once modernist and timeless.

This project was a joint venture of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Cutler Anderson Architects.

Awards

1997 National Honor Award
American Institute of Architects
1997 Honor Award for Design Excellence
AIA Pennsylvania
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