Sunday, May 19, 2013

AIA NW Home Open House

240 people turned out to tour the Walsh Hollon Residence today.  It was a great opportunity for us to talk about Umbrella House & show off a really spectacular project.  Thanks so much to Greg Hollon and Brenda Walsh for letting us into their home and to the AIA & Northwest Home for selecting us for the honor.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Umbrella House Revisited

The Walsh Hollon Residence is the AIA NW Home House of Month.  It will be open for a public tour on Sunday May 19 from noon-3pm.  The project is located at 6816 29th Ave NE.

As we get ready for the tour, its a good opportunity to re-introduce Umbrella House, our approach to housing design in the Northwest, and examine how this approach is reflected in the Walsh Hollon Residence.

What makes this project an Umbrella House?

Umbrella House is a vision of contemporary architecture that is uniquely responsive to the climate of the Pacific Northwest, exploring the challenges and opportunities that arise when we build here, namely:

• It's gray outside.

• It's wet outside.

• It's nice outside.

Lets look at how we address each of these aspects of our climate at the Walsh Hollon Residence:


Over-sized windows capture as much natural light as possible. Openings are framed to allow the windows and doors to come all the way up to the ceiling. This provides more glass area in the exterior wall, and allows more opportunity to look to the horizon and see the dome of the sky.

Floor plans are open to borrow light between spaces and to maximize the potential to see through the house to the landscape and sky beyond.

The house configuration stretches across the full width of the lot to maximize the wall area that faces the street and backyard and minimize the wall area that faces the adjacent houses, improving their exposure to natural light and open views.


We begin with a simple roof form that protects the building from the weather and expresses the idea of shelter as the primary aesthetic.

Broad overhangs protect the siding and create dramatic shadows. Roof pitches are relatively shallow to expose the underside of the soffits.  Textured plywood and natural finishes provide dramatic effect.

Natural materials are used in locations where they are well protected from weathering. Exposed areas of the cladding use durable finishes that will minimize the need for maintenance.

Exposed exterior finishes include pained cement board, aluminum clad windows, and trex window sills.  In protected areas exterior finishes include stained cedar, MDF plywood, and stained fir framing.

The cladding system uses a commercial grade polypropylene building wrap, pre-formed window flashings, and a rain screen drainage plane that evacuates any water that gets behind the cladding. These features will dramatically increase the useful life of the building.  Future maintenance will be greatly reduced from that of a typical house.


When its not rainy and gray, its really nice here. The house is designed to open up and take advantage of the mild climate, connecting interior with the exterior spaces and using natural ventilation to cool the home

The operable wall on the main floor is the most obvious element that creates a seamless transition from the living space to the decks and into the landscape beyond.

Over-sized doors, operable windows, open floor plans are combined with double height spaces to encourage breezes and natural ventilation.  Operable windows at the top of the butterfly roof create convection currents that facilitate passive cooling of the house.

A greenhouse style glass roof covers the rear deck, extending the season where the house can remain open to the outside.


In addition to being an exemplar of our Umbrella House concept, the Walsh Hollon Residence is also one of our most ambitious homes in terms of its energy efficiency.

Notable features include:

A geothermal heat exchange system by Earthheat provides both domestic hot water radiant in-floor heating,
In the summer, the heat pumps can be reversed to provide radiant cooling as well.

High density spray foam and blown-in blanket insulation provide air sealing and insulation far beyond code requirements.

A 6 kilowatt photovoltaic solar array by AR Solar is connected to the grid and feeds enough power back into the system that the house has a net-zero energy bill.

Switched outlets throughout the house (grey switches) allow owners to shut off parasitic loads from appliances, chargers, printers, and the like.

An energy monitor allows the owners to see their energy consumption in real time and analyze records on their home computer as well.

AIA NW Home House of Month. 
Sunday May 19 from noon-3pm.
6816 29th Ave NE - Seattle, WA.