Stuart Silk Architects

Stuart Silk Architects

Seattle, WA


Lake Shore Residence

This waterfront home on Lake Washington in Seattle’s Washington Park neighborhood enjoys sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Rainier. One of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, the area is dominated by traditional homes. Our clients asked us to design an enduring home with a distinctly contemporary sensibility that acknowledges its context. The design evokes a sense of place, permanence, and security. “The two identical gables give this home its strong identity. Smooth white Texas limestone accentuates the clean lines of this minimally modern design and give it a sense of timelessness and permanence,” notes architect Stuart Silk.

By employing matching gables and rigorously eliminating details associated with traditional homes, such as carved eaves and decorative casings, the 6,636-square-foot design is distilled to its essential form, strengthened by  the clarity of its form. The result is a familiar yet unmistakably modern home designed to stand the test of time.

Nearly white in tone, the softly colored limestone cladding provides a durable and high-performance envelope that contributes to its abstracted form. The limestone walls have been brought into the interior the home along the central gallery. The two-story atrium is 70 feet long and capped by a 40-foot-long dramatic skylight, which makes the interior of the home feel as if it is like an interior courtyard. “The home’s most memorable and dramatic design element,” notes Stuart Silk, “is the glass covered atrium separating the two gabled forms which runs the entire length of the home. The light from the skylight reflects off the two-story limestone clad walls resulting in an ethereal light filled space even on dark days. As Seattle’s mercurial sky change so does the daily experience of living in this home.”

From the front door on the west, the design draws one toward the glass doors that lead to views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains on the east. Formally, the gallery provides a separation between the gables and its limestone-lined walls, which continue from the exterior to the interior.

The starkness of the white walls is offset by the warmth of the beamed, quarter-sawn white oak ceilings of the adjacent living areas, which provides an elegant setting for the client’s collection of mid-century modernist paintings. The home’s major spaces are divided into two zones: a formal zone that includes the living and dining areas, and an informal zone that includes the kitchen, informal living and breakfast room. In these generously glazed eleven-foot-tall rooms light and views are plentiful. In the stairs a striking blackened-metal-clad wall provides the structure to support the free-floating stair treads. Tightly constrained by neighbors on both sides, the design is focused to the views.

Outside, an entry courtyard defined by a curving stone wall responds to the shape of the street and the house itself, providing privacy for the family to enjoy the last hours of sunlight. A simple lawn provides a place for activities and the connection to the dock and lake beyond. Our client’s deep commitment to sustainability led to several energy saving features including a geothermal ground loop system for all heating and air conditioning needs. To prevent the formation of mold, the entire structural system is constructed using inorganic materials. The exterior walls are masonry, while the subfloors and interior partitions are made with steel, making this home more akin to a commercial building rather than a traditional wood-framed home and ensuring longevity and helping to eliminate health issues such as those related to mold. Elegantly detailed and timeless in its proportionality, this home rejoices in the experience of lakeside living.

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Status: Built
Location: Seattle, WA, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Stuart Silk Architects design team
Stuart Silk, Aaron Mollick, Michael McFadden

Consultant team
Architecture: Stuart Silk Architects
Interiors: Nelleen Berlin
Landscape Architecture: Carolyn Temple
Construction: Lockhart Suver

Photography: Aaron Leitz; Buck Usher