Perched high upon Yeomalt Bluff, the Ellis Residence, enjoys a commanding 180-degree view of Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline. The architects responded to some questions about the LEED Platinum home.
View of house from waterfront
Can you describe your design process for the building?
A key goal of the project was community outreach and education. This started with the owner and architect, but in order to be a truly successful project the contractor and subcontractors also had to be “all in”. Their willingness to be educated and alter decades worth of construction methods to better sustainable construction practices was paramount to the success of the project. Additionally, the increasing awareness in the community was a key goal to creating the ideal of sustainability; not just being a single project, but rather a project that fosters the next project and so on.
View of dining room, kitchen beyond
Overlapping programmatic use was also a key goal. Creating space that has multiple functions means an overall smaller footprint. That is why you will find the laundry appliances and clothing storage built into the master bathroom casework, and an office within the corner of the media room, or sliding and bi-folding doors that transform smaller spaces into larger gathering spaces that can be easily connected to the outdoors. Even more so, the home’s roof becomes a vegetated garden patio..the ultimate getaway.
View of living room
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
The greater region of Seattle is a very “eco” conscious region of the US, but is still lacking in many built examples of “green” living. Moreover, Bainbridge Island is an eco-minded community looking to leaders in the community to provide examples green living. The initial vision of the owner was to build a home to create inspiration and education to the community.
Main Level Floor Plan
Land Use & Site Ecology
Much of the existing site was covered in turf and impervious paving. The site was rehabilitated with native and drought tolerant vegetation and pervious pavers. The crest of the bluff was restored with plantings to reestablish habitat and to prevent erosion. Extreme care was taken to preserve natural habitat and existing trees throughout the construction process. A large rain-garden is integrated into the west side of the site, providing an on-site eco-system and habitat as well as collecting and filtering storm water runoff.
The orientation and massing of the building was driven by site constraints. A large east-west CMU “spine” forms a central thermal mass core for the house. This massive wall reduces temperature swings and is oriented in conjunction with operable skylights to take advantage of cooling techniques. In addition, this wall sets up a division between private and public spaces. To the north, the private portion of the house is much more enclosed for climatic and privacy reasons with very specific views to the exterior. To the south, the glassy public spaces have abundant natural light and views. To the east, the water side of the house, windows and doors open to allow the naturally cool breezes from the sound to temper the interior spaces.
Upper Level Floor Plan
Light & Air
The integration of views and daylighting into the house are critical to its design concept. The unique site provides panoramic views over the Puget Sound: from Mount Rainier to Mount Baker with Seattle as the focal point. The site also overlooks the shipping channels evoking memories of the owners many years of service in the shipping industry. Every room in the house has a unique view to this setting or to gardens surrounding the home. Window fenestrations also play a critical role in passively heating the house. South facing windows along with overhead skylights warm thermal mass walls and floors affectively warming the house even on a cold winter day.
Materials & Construction
The integrity of building construction focused on construction sustainability and waste management, building envelope integrity, and material durability. The existing cabin and garage previously located on the site was hand deconstructed by a local salvage firm resulting in a 97% landfill diversion rate. Existing foundations were ground up and used as structural fill on other projects. Before construction began, subcontractors created detailed lists of FSC certified framing and sheathing to more accurately place their lumber orders to reduce waste.
Additionally, the contractor tracked all waste and recyclable material on the site to provide a 75% landfill diversion rate.An innovative hybrid insulation system of closed-cell spray foam and batt insulation was used to provide maximum insulation performance and air-tight construction at an affordable cost. In addition, triple-glazed wood windows were installed throughout the project. Untreated FSC certified hardwood “rain screen” siding assembly provides a low maintenance, moisture resistant cladding system. In addition to the hardwood siding, recyclable metal panels and CMU block comprise the remainder of the durable exterior envelope.
E-Mail Interview conducted by John Hill