Portland Backyard Retreat

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This little structure, nearly 200 square feet of enclosed space, offers respite from daily life. Its simplicity is meant to engage the senses while providing shelter for contemplation.

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Indoor-outdoor space, with glass walls that open wide, and wrap-around views. The roof continues over the veranda, providing shelter in the rain.

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Light comes in on three sides, including generous north-facing studio windows. Northern light is generally even and cool, which may be just the thing every now and then.

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The space is simple and open. A wall-mounted cabinet captures the clutter, freeing the floor for whatever. These renderings show the space as it might be used to listen to music. It could also make a great studio for painting, yoga or meditation.

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The view out is expansive. However, the side facing the main house is kept free of openings. This reinforces the removal from daily life, furthering the feeling of getting away for a while.

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From the outside, the retreat is simple and rustic. Its dark, rustic wood siding will deepen with age, becoming part of the surrounding landscape.

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The north-facing entry is modest, with a sense of departure as one steps from a grounded stone stoop to its entry bridge.

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The floor plan is very simple and flexible.

If this design stimulates your ideas about your own retreat, I’d be delighted to talk with you about it.

I designed the project, and created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Portland Phased House

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This project is designed to make new home construction affordable for more families. It eliminates the need for owning two properties at the same time, or expensive temporary housing, and allows the homeowner to proceed with construction when it fits their budget.

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Phase One of the project starts as soon as the family has closed on their new property. They move into the existing house on the site, and proceed with the demolition of the existing detached garage. In its place, a new garage is built. This garage includes an Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU), located to the side of, and above, the garage.

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The ADU is built to the maximum size allowed by Portland’s ADU program, and can be rented out for additional income when the main house is finished. While the ADU is a one bedroom unit, additional space in garage can be utilized by the family while their new home is under construction.

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The ADU has a generous entrance and stairway, with its bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, and open living space on the second floor.

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With the living space on the upper level, views and light are enhanced. The living space opens out to a roof garden.

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The ADU is treated with similar architectural features as the main house. This maximizes the family’s enjoyment of their  temporary home, and allows a higher rental price down the road.

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The main views from the ADU are oriented away from the future house.

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In Phase Two, the existing house is demolished, and the new house is built. As can be seen above, the two buildings form a cohesive whole. A large, south-facing courtyard is defined, and indoor-outdoor living is developed.

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The street facade captures the entire buildable width of the lot. While the house is a simple rectangular volume, varying levels of openness and enclosure interact with light and shade, developing a lively engagement with the neighborhood.

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The entrance from the street is brought to life with light, shadows, reflections and transparency.

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The living and dining room are animated with light filtered through trees.

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The living room is open to the east and west, with ample light throughout the day. The home’s terrace is seen on the right.

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While somewhat open to living and dining, the kitchen is a clearly defined space. It opens onto the terrace, and has a western view of the back yard as well.

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The stair to the second floor is enlivened with a generous skylight, and open construction.

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From the second floor master suite, the upper part of the stair is glimpsed, along with a view of the roof garden.

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Indoor-outdoor living in the master suite. Should the owner desire, the roof garden space could easily be converted to a third bedroom.

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The home’s grand exterior space, defined by the house(right) and its garage/ADU (left).

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Focus on the terrace, with dappled light and filtered views. A generous glass covered walkway shelters access from the garage to the kitchen, and creates an outdoor space that can be enjoyed in the rain.

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An overhead view clarifies the overall composition of architectural elements.

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The north face of the home’s two parts.

Site Plan

The site and floor plans above show the house in its finished state. The main house is 1,600 square feet, with two bedrooms; and the ADU is 790 square feet with one bedroom.

This house is designed for a typical Portland east-side lot – 50′ x 100′, relatively flat, and with an existing house and detached garage. Its principles can be applied to other lot types as well.

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When designing this house, I was inspired by the idea of helping architecture lovers of moderate means achieve their dream of building their own house. I’m looking forward to getting to know your particular dream.

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I created all the designs, drawings and renderings for this post.

Mount Tabor Houses

These two houses, located on the north face of Portland’s Mount Tabor, are designed to capitalize on their sites’ dramatic slope. The houses are located on individual, adjacent lots, where there are currently no existing structures. Each house is 2,460  square feet, and shown in these drawings with three bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms and 1 powder room.

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Each home’s footprint is compact while the space is expansive. With living spaces located well above street level, views are open and privacy is guaranteed.

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Following the natural slope of the site results in the eastern house being nine feet higher than the west house. While its driveway is a bit more dramatic, so are the views.

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The plans for both houses are simple and easily adaptable.

The home’s living space is generous, and while the open space keeps everybody in contact, there’s also a sense of definition between the living room and the kitchen and dining.

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This section perspective clarifies the spatial relationships.

Looking from the living room back to the kitchen and dining, one gets a sense of how light and nature wrap around this house. The sloped site is present as well.

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Just enough definition in the kitchen keeps messes from spilling into living spaces, yet visual connections are strong.

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Two sides of the kitchen are wide open, and a third wall is filled with full-height cabinets. These provide ample, easily accessible storage, as well as a built-in refrigerator. The kitchen has its own terrace, perfect for barbecue.

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The master bedroom, part of a master suite on the mezzanine.

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This open space, shown here as an office, is easily tailored to the owner’s needs. It would also make a great library, workout space or media room.

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On a sloped site, level space like this roof terrace is at a premium. Partially covered with a glazed roof, this flexible outdoor room combines fun living with fantastic views and light. Definitely a must have in Portland.

Why not make one of these houses your home?

 

Portland Garden House

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Like many US cities, substantial portions of Portland, Oregon are laid out on a rectilinear grid. One of the most common lot sizes in the gridded part of town is 50 feet wide by 100 feet deep. This house is tailored to one of these lots, with massing and features that relate it to its neighbors.

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Entering the garden house, you get a strong sense of space and light. The home’s vertical circulation presents itself at the front door, but doesn’t invite immediate ascent. While the living room is the first space you notice, dining and kitchen are hinted at.

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Crossing into the living room, the home’s layers become apparent. The open studio loft hovers above, framing the dining and kitchen, with a view to the back garden. Skylight floods over the stair, filling the space with a healthy glow.

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In the Garden House’s building section, the overall spatial scheme is made clear – the lower two floors are mostly open, and a third level contains bedrooms and a roof terrace. Views through the house are emphasized, from north to south and east to west.

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In plan, the home’s harmonious organization becomes clear. Living space is graduated from public to private; both front to back, and top to bottom. The home’s three gardens are seen here – the social garden at the front of the house, a more private family garden off the kitchen, and a sun-seeking sky garden on the third level.

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The kitchen, which stretches across the back of the first floor, is open to both internal and external living spaces.

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The dining and living areas are fully visible from the kitchen, but a partial height, enclosing wall shields kitchen mess from the living spaces.

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The stair from the first to the second level gives more than vertical transit – it’s an alternate way to experience the space and views. The landing makes a great vantage point, and would be fun during a party.

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The second level has a studio open to living below, and the master bedroom suite adjacent. A sliding door panel offers privacy or wide-open access.

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From the studio, the skylit double height space reveals wide open views of the social garden and the neighbors’ houses beyond.

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An axonometric view shows off the house’s sky garden and skylight to the living room. While the home’s clean modern composition contrasts with the neighbor’s more traditional pitched roofs and double-hung windows, its massing is similar, along with its front porch.

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I adapted the Garden House’s design from a housing prototype designed by French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1920’s. Its 2,400 square feet are organized in a simple, modular way, keeping the house open to future needs and desires. I created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Portland Hill House

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Portland, Oregon is a city with rich topography. Hills, ridges, valleys and promontories give the city texture and drama, as well as mold its neighborhoods and roadways. Slopes often present challenges – access can be tricky, and foundations are usually more elaborate. Yet the compensations are great; the views alone are worth it.

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In Portland, hills have ample greenery – soaring conifers, dense woodlands and lush forest floors. These places can feel like they’re miles out in the country, when they’re often close to the middle of the city. I’ve designed this speculative house for a Portland hillside to embrace the beauty and character of its natural setting.

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It’s in two parts: the main house with its vaulted living space, and a garage which includes a storage loft and studio/workshop on its lower level. These two pavilions are connected by a covered walkway at the front, and a generous terrace at the back.

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The layout of the house is clear and rational. Its form maximizes view and light, and its simple structure recalls sheds and other rural structures.

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The main living level is aligned with the garage. Its spaces, including the master suite, are combined in one open volume. A large deck extends this space outdoors, and emphasizes the indoor/outdoor nature of this home.

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The living area is oriented away from the street, toward the natural landscape and view. With Portland’s rich stock of firs, cedars & spruces, the view up is just as important as the view out.

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The master bedroom is a private sanctuary, intimate and expansive.

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The house’s street face is modest and welcoming. While the main house is just shy of 3,000 square feet, it doesn’t present a bulky image. There are three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a powder room. I’d enjoy finding out how I can make it your home.

All design and images in this posting were created by me. The sculpture shown in the Master Bedroom rendering is called “Flying Without Wings”, and is the work of Jan Watson Flood. Her website: bronzeandcanvas.com

 

Portland Infill House

As Portland continues to attract new residents, its fixed land area must accommodate more residences. One way that the City of Portland has encouraged higher density is to enable development of lots previously considered unacceptably small. This speculative house design is tailored to one of these typical lots – 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The resulting “skinny house” capitalizes on all the code-required architectural features to create a neighborhood-friendly new home.

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All the living space in this 1,700 square foot, three bedroom house has been concentrated on the upper level. This lofted space is open to daylight, both from full height windows and overhead clerestories.

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Treetop views maximize daylight while maintaining privacy, and the gently rising roof offers an expansive sense of space.

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The kitchen, located in the heart of the home, has its own unique roof form, gathering the focus of the living spaces and ensuring maximum sun throughout the day. Bedrooms are located away from the street for maximum privacy and quiet. A small back yard is accessible to both floors via a spiral stair.

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A one-car garage is provided on the ground level – not required by Portland zoning, but useful for a variety of families. Two full-size bathrooms add to the appeal.

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The home’s simple, clear design balances architectural interest with life-accommodating space. This basic design is really just the starting point – it welcomes input from a specific site, the people who build it, and the family who calls it home.

 

Office for an Investment Company

This workspace is located on the top three floors of a Chicago office tower. All three floors are linked with a three story atrium, a unique feature with a powerful impact on the office.

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As originally constructed, the atrium was designed to have an open stair connecting the floors. But this stair was never built. My clients wanted a stair to enhance the communication of its employees, and it became a major element of this buildout.

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The atrium as found had wide open balconies on all three levels. While my client loved the openness, they needed the space for program areas. I designed a wall system, based on aluminum framed storefront parts, that provided glass and wood veneer panels as suggested by view and privacy requirements.

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The new atrium stair was located adjacent to new conference rooms that were fully glazed to facilitate communication among company members. It’s become a great place to bump into people – a true communicating stair. Glass stair risers were specified to maintain the stair’s transparency.

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The investment company has offices in both the US and the UK. When laying out the work spaces, there was a clash of culture: Americans value privacy, and the Brits need openness and collaboration. In the end, the plan compromises with four-person pods that may be open or enclosed based on the needs of the department.

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This company has a strong appreciation of wood and custom craftsmanship. The reception desk was made veneered in a highly figured maple, with solid planks of the same material at the transaction counter. I also designed custom conference tables of this wood for all the conference rooms.

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In addition to the custom furniture, I also designed custom lighting for the circulation areas. These fixtures consisted of a laminated glass plane suspended 3″ below the ceiling to create a luminous plane.

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This project was completed while I was an employee at Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Corp. I was the project designer and manager, and performed complete project services, including site, contractor, and bid evaluation; programming; schematic design; design development; construction documents and construction administration.

Mark Ballogg create all of the photographs with the exception of the light fixture above, which is a photograph by me.