Thursday, December 12, 2013


Here is a second design concept for a passive house in the redwoods. It is more contained, so to speak, but dynamic in shape. There are 3 buildings - house, bath house, garage/shop/studio - tied together in form around a south facing courtyard. Like the first concept, there are lot's of windows and skylights. Added here, by virtue of the 3 building layout, is the intentional white color of the walls around the courtyard. This will brighten one's view out and bounce more light in.
Building details include Sips, structural insulated panels, used for efficiency. Exterior materials are similar - metal siding, cement board siding, with the roof being standing seam aluminum. Interior walls are typically white, with occasional touches of natural wood.
Area facts:
Residence:  1st floor -       1515 sf
                      2nd floor -      760 sf
                                           2275 sf

Bath House                         228 sf

Garage/studio/shop      1592 sf

This concept, plans, parcel and the construction could be available. Inquire.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


We are seeing more examples of the passive house standard applied to a wider variety of building shapes and forms. Here is a concept for a residence in the redwoods. A number of factors need to be considered beyond the delight of the lovely views into the always green forest.

Here are three:

- Light – its shady, especially in the winter. Add lots of windows and skylights. Add white and bright colors to the interior.

- Cool – which particularly settles in in winter. The Passive House Standard is quite appropriate. SIPS – structural insulated panels are chosen for this concept.

- Urban wildland interface – per code and common sense, to reduce combustible surfaces the siding is metal. Overhangs are minimal. The ceiling of the entry porch is to be metal or cement board. The walls of the entry porch to be redwood applied to 1 hr. fire rated walls. The roofing to be Class A. It could also be a green roof. In either case, a low slope roof shape is chosen sloping in the long direction. This happens to confine rain gutters to one short run, easily accessible for maintenance.

And two interesting touches:

- Redwood tree column with bark announces the entry porch.

- 2 – 10”x24” slabbed redwood beams with natural edge help visually divide the public spaces.

Area facts:

Residence = 1702 sf

Garage = 528 sf

Studio  = 528 sf

This concept, plans, parcel, and the construction of this passive house could be available. Inquire.
 Floor Plan
 At the front steps
 Front elevation
 Rear elevation
Front entry

Your first view

 Closer, near the kitchen
 In reverse, fromt the kitchen toward the living room and entry.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Exterior finishes are underway. Of particular note is the corrugated steel roofing and the use of this material exposed under the eaves of the existing portion of the home and as soffits at the new portion.  The owners have always been keen on corrugated roofing. Rather than corten steel, galvalume, or painted, they chose bare metal with the thickness upgraded to 22 gauge. Over time, of course, the roof will rust. But as the patina changes over time, the roof will be visually lively.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Here are two very sweet, sacred projects. I am quite involved in one. The other is a neighbor. The details show two expressions of refined timber joinery.

Friday, September 27, 2013


On Sunday evening, 9/22/13, I was able to join in with a number of Passive House California members and enthusiasts at a dinner with Dr. Wolfgang Feist. He is co-creator of the Passive House Standard and the founder of the Passive House Institute.  With him was Dr. Witta Ebel,  his wife and director of the Passive House Institute, Darmstadt, Germany.
Two comments from Dr. Wolfgang Feist, an engaging, earnest, and at times self-deprecating individual, seem just right.
“You live in a ‘lucky’ climate.”         “Open the windows.”
Some background – at first glance the PH Standard appears rigid and narrowly focused.  In application does it really reflect how people live? Does it work here for our Bay Area climate? How about other California climate zones?  Or In Hawaii? Does it constrain architectural design too much?
I interpret his two simple comments this way: 
‘Lucky” , aside from the good weather we enjoy, means less effort and investment is required to meet the goals of the PH Standard. More importantly the PH Standard is quite flexible. It is not just a cold weather standard. PHI recently did studies in Mexico to tune the Passive House Standard to warmer and hot climates where cooling is the issue. So it works here.
“Open the windows” tells me the PH Standard, while leading the way to energy efficiency, energy reduction and direct action re: climate change, also addresses simple human comfort, needs and options. Having good weather? Open the windows!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I noticed two things of note visiting the Sea Ranch Chapel website today.
The first is this very special perspective through an aerial view of the Chapel, with its dynamic shape framed by gorgeous greens:

Photography by Scott Simpson, West of One

The second is a reminder to me of how special the Chapel is. While my own relationship is quite intimate, having had the privilege to be responsible to build the chapel, (along with a most talented group of craftspeople). It is really about who it is for.  I recommend you go to .

Friday, July 19, 2013

C&W Residence Completed

The C&W Residence has finally been completed despite many starts and stops, planning vagaries, and being caught in the middle of the great recession. (See home page for a rendering and floor plan of the original concept.) Custom designed to include details like glass stairs, a glass floor, a deep blue mosaic glass tile ceiling, full passive solar heating and cooling, and a 40’ deep scuba diving pool, the home eventually came to life as a home built to market. While details are moderated, from modern to Mediterranean, the principle design remains evident and strong. According to the developer the “buyer is amazed with the design and build.”

 Front Elevation
 Curved Living Room
 Curved Living Room
 LR toward Dining Room
 DR toward kitchen

 Kitchen toward Dining Room

 Up the curved stairs
Master Bath

 Rear Patio
Rear Elevation

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Omander Addition

While one naturally wishes to share one’s best projects, if one steps back and asks to define ‘best’ it is not always the most exceptional, the largest, or the most expensive. Good design is good design and it is applicable everywhere, for everyone. This project replaces a single car garage while adding storage, an office/guest bedroom, and a laundry plus bathroom . All highlighted in Swedish blue. The function works, blending new with old works. The budget worked. The home lives well.