Bellevue, Washington

Experiencing the land in a vivid new way

Honor Award: Bob Hull, The Miller/Hull Partnership, Seattle (206/682-6837)

Challenge: Maximize the view of Phantom Lake from a long, narrow lot that slopes down to the water through a stand of fir and cedar trees, and emphasize indoor-outdoor living.

Solution: A deceptively simple two-story box forms a large wall across the lot. The shape and character of the wall changes according to function ― it's solid and cavelike on the uphill side to form a sheltered entry, transparent and open on the lake side to capture and magnify the vista. "We thrust the house into the site and the site into the house," explains architect Bob Hull.

Special effects:
• The covered exterior workspace at one end illustrates the ingenuity of the design: it's inside and outside at the same time and functions as a gateway to the lake and the hill. Large aluminum barn doors slide across the openings at front and rear to close or open it. A concrete sink and countertop work for potting or entertaining.

• Even the exterior cladding plays several roles: the predominantly olive green 16-inch-wide panels of standing seam metal blend with the trees, echo their vertical lines, and create the module for the smaller windows.

• The living-dining area projects beyond the box in a dramatic two-story glass bay, which is actually a reinforced storefront window system. Unusually thin mullions span the tall space, turning it into a gigantic glass jigsaw puzzle recomposing the view.