2009-2010 Western Home Award winners

The best architecture is meant to be used. Sunsest and AIA select the winners in innovative home design

Best small space glass house

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Best small home design: Into thin air

Project: Opie-Burleigh itHouse, Three Rivers, CA

What we love: Jurors were wowed by this striking glass house built of components shipped from all over the country directly to the picturesque site in the Sierra Foothills.

It's small in size (1,200 square feet), but makes an eye-popping impact.

Design: Taalman Koch Architecture, Los Angeles (213/380-1060)


Interior fireplace

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Best small home: Interior

The Fireorb fireplace frees up floor space, and the spindly tables, chairs, and even kitchen counters help the home feel uncluttered.

See its outdoor fireplace next.

Fireplace courtyard

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Best small home: Outdoor fireplace

Carved out of the south side of the house, the fire courtyard provides shelter from the wind.

Glass house floor plan

Floor plan by Arthur Mount

Best small home: Floor plan

Storage units in the kitchen and bedroom double as dividing walls.

A Contemporary architecture custom home

Photo by Benny Chan for Fotoworks

Best custom-built home: Nothing to hide

Project: The Big Porch House, Santa Monica

What we love: The playfulness, the great use of color, and even the bold in-your-face-ness of this eye-catching Sunset Park residence. In a world of boxes, it’s a house with real personality.

As the architects explain, the space is meant to say, “Come visit―we want to know our neighbors.” This openness to the street and to the community offers a new model for the single-family home.

Design:  John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, Los Angeles (213/253-4740)

See inside next.

Santa Monica custom home winner dining room

Photo by Benny Chan for Fotoworks

Best custom home: Dining room

The dining room opens onto the semi-walled entrance area. The open floor plan and careful window placement eliminate the need for air-conditioning.

Santa Monica custom home bedroom

Photo by Benny Chan for Fotoworks

Best custom home: Bedroom

Frosted glass gives this street-facing bedroom a bit of privacy. South-facing windows allow winter’s rays to warm the house; in summer, the eaves help block the sun.

Santa Monica custom home

Model by Arthur Mount

Best custom home: Model

The house sits back on the lot―it doesn’t loom over the street corner.

Modern prefab home

Photo by Bill Timmerman

Best green home: The Wright way

Project: Taliesin Mod.Fab, Scottsdale, AZ

What we love: The optimism and vision of Taliesin students are visible everywhere in this smart prefab. 

The result of a design/build class taught by Jennifer Siegal and Michael P. Johnson, it’s a dynamic, livable house that honors Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy while tackling important design issues of today, from innovative prefabrication to sustainable systems like solar panels and rainwater and gray-water collection.

Design: Michael P. Johnson, faculty lead, Mod.Fab Studio, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ.

Modern prefab floor plan

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Best green home: Floor plan

The unit, less than 600 square feet, is narrow enough to be transported by road.

Landscape and architecture home design

Photo by Joe Fletcher

Best indoor-outdoor design: Without borders

Project: Vienna Way Residence, Venice, CA

What we love: This stylish house―the home of one of the firm’s partners―expressed his family’s desire for a design encompassing landscape and architecture.

Sustainable features and native plants up the ante on a seamless integration of indoors and out.

Design:  Marmol Radziner, Los Angeles (310/826-6222)

Get a closer look next.

Green roof garden

Photo by Joe Fletcher

Best indoor-outdoor design: Rooftop garden

A grassy roof helps keep the kitchen from heating up in warm months.

Sliding doors let evaporation from the swimming pool cool the house.

Best home remodel

Photo by Tim Griffith

Best residential remodel: Stage set

Project: Honighaus, San Francisco

What we love: Clients with modern in mind find it’s not always easy to work within the San Francisco Planning Department’s historical mandates.

But the architects here proved the maxim that good design comes from constraints, creating an updated exterior for the 1910 Edwardian (see before photo next) to house a museum-like transformation indoors.

Jurors were particularly taken with the dramatic concrete “water wall” (at far left of house) that feeds into a small channel cascading to a pond at the rear of the property.

Design:  Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects, San Francisco  (415/474-6724)

The exterior renovation of a modern home

Photo by Tim Griffith

Best residential remodel: Before the renovation

The once-busy back of the house has been opened up and simplified.

Urban living apartment building

Photo by John Clark

Best urban living space: Triple play

Project: Colman Triplex, Seattle

What we love: That the architects designed a complex yet elegant system to fit three apartments, each with generous outdoor living space and views, within just 3,800 square feet.

The use of a structural steel frame allowed for more flexible floor plans: Someday, for instance, units A and C could be combined to make an apartment large enough to house a home office, an aging parent, or a growing family.

Design:  Workshop Architecture + Design, Seattle (206/903-5414)

See inside one of the units next.

Modern apartment kitchen

Photo by John Clark

Best urban living space: Kitchen

The kitchen in the top-floor unit A borrows a view from the park next door.

Apartment master bathroom

Photo by John Clark

Best urban living space: Bath

Also in unit A, a light well illumi­nates the master bathroom.

Next, see how the units fit together.

Urban housing design

Illustration by Workshop Architecture + Design

Best urban living space: Diagram

Units A and C could someday be easily merged into one dwelling.

Seattle rooftop house

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

Honorable mention: Small space

Project: Sky Ranch, Seattle

What we love: That the Miller Hull Partnership saw the potential of all these empty rooftops with a view, designing a smart 800-square-foot apartment atop a 62,000-square-foot warehouse roof.

As the architects explain, “This is just one example of what is possible if we look at these forgotten landscapes as new opportunities.” 

Jurors were impressed by how the architects wrangled space away from pigeons and mechanical units while finding a new use for waterfront property in an industrialized setting. They also made note of how the project increased urban density using existing space.

Design: The Miller Hull Partnership, Seattle (206/682-6837)

See the view from inside next.

Seattle rooftop home roof and view

Photo by Benjamin Benschneider

Small space honorable mention: Roof with a view

The roof's deep overhang keeps the rooms cool even though the walls are glass.

See the model next.

Rooftop house model

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Small space honorable mention: Model

Existing stairs leading to the warehouse roof became Sky Ranch’s front door.

Cabin outdoor living room

Photo by Nic Lehoux

Honorable mention: Indoor-outdoor living

Project: Sheldon Gatehouse, Cle Elum, WA

What we love: Who among us hasn’t dreamed of an idyllic cabin in the woods? Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has fulfilled that fantasy for the owner of this rustic-meets-modern two-bedroom getaway sited to maximize the sylvan surroundings, a two-hour drive from Seattle.

Indoor and outdoor rooms, linked by a “boardwalk,” frame gorgeous vistas of the Wenatchee National Forest from multiple angles.

Jurors also appreciated that the buildings have strong visual impact yet occupy a minimal footprint on the land.

Design:  Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Seattle office (206/256-0862)

See inside next.

Cottage cabin interior

Photo by Nic Lehoux

Indoor-outdoor honorable mention: Airy interior

The high ceiling helps the “winter” living room feel airy, and the steep slope of the roof keeps the area’s heavy winter snowfalls from accumulating.

Eco-friendly home design

Honorable mention: Green home

Project: Utah House, near Moab, UT

What we love: Geothermal systems that heat and cool the house, and solar panels providing power, let this house sit relatively lightly on a dramatic landscape.

Design:  Marmol Radziner, Los Angeles (310/826-6222)

Eco-friendly housing unit

Honorable mention: Green home

Project: Green on 19 Townhomes, Santa Monica

What we love: Each of the five units in this sustainably designed townhouse complex has an ethanol-burning fireplace that warms the living space.

Design:  Jesse Bornstein Architecture, Santa Monica (310/399-6583)

Small cabin architecture

Honorable mention: Small home

Project: Williams Cabin, Durango, CO

What we love: The interior of this simple cabin consists of one sleeping/living room, with a simple kitchen and a bathroom alcove.

Design:  Stephen Atkinson Architecture, Palo Alto, CA (650/321-6118)

Custom-built glass home

Honorable mention: Custom-built home

The project: Hundred Foot House, Orinda, CA

What we love: This largely glass house slices across the steeply sloping site, taking advantage of the mature trees, which help preserve some privacy.

Design:  Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects, San Francisco (415/474-6724)

Montecito custom home

Honorable mention: Custom-built home

The project: Montecito Residence, Montecito, CA

What we love: As wildfires often ravage this part of the Santa Barbara coast, the architects chose fire-resistant materials (steel, concrete) for the construction.

Design:  Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle (206/624-5670)

Indoor-outdoor home

Honorable mention: Indoor-outdoor living

Project: Mackey-Yaseen single-family residence, Tucson, AZ

What we love: The northern facade of the this 875-square-foot addition has a deep roof overhang, creating sheltered outdoor space that can be used year-round.

Design:  Worker, Inc., Tucson (520/664-4847)

Arizona home remodel

Honorable mention: Residential remodel

Project: Koliopoulos Residence, Paradise Valley, AZ

What we love: Glass curtain walls serve almost as a bubble enclosing the “real” rooms within.

Design:  Peter M. Koliopoulos, AIA, Scottsdale, AZ (480/609-1000)

Home remodeling project

Honorable mention: Residential remodel

Project: p_House single-family residence, Redondo Beach, California

What we love: Cantilevering a second-floor addition over the backyard helped expand the house’s living area without exceeding the original footprint.

Design:  Ras-a Inc., Redondo Beach, California (310/937-1760)

Urban living architecture

Honorable mention: Urban home

Project: Envelope House, Seattle

What we love: The Envelope House takes its name from the fact that the structure is built out to the limits of the allowable building “envelope,” leaving a courtyard in the center of the site.

Design:  Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Seattle office (206/256-0862)

Housing unit design

Honorable mention: Urban home

Project: Wyers End Neighborhood, White Salmon, Washington

What we love: Nearly two dozen pedestrian-friendly houses occupy this 2.4-acre infill site, shaded by mature oaks, near the center of a rural Washington town.

Design:  Ross Chapin Architects, Langley, Washington (360/ 221-2373)

More: Get a list of winners and judges

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