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photo of Lake House
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

Lake House

Seattle, Washington

Lake House

Seattle, Washington

  • Design Principal

    Jim Olson

  • Principal

    Stephen Yamada-Heidner

This house on the shore of Lake Washington is a fusion of art and nature. It is oriented to respond to the path of the sun, prevailing winds and existing shade trees in order to achieve cross ventilation and passive solar gain.

Complementing the salvaged redwood facing of the two-story façade is a dramatically curved screen wall shingled in Rheinzink alloy. It takes a cue from the signature curves of Erich Mendelson, who designed department stores for the owners’ family in the 1920s. The curving plane catches the morning sun as it hits the south façade, drawing it into the house and through a skylight. Suspended just below the skylight, a dichroic glass sculpture by artist Ed Carpenter projects colored light that traces the sun’s arc across the wall.

The 28-by-50-foot curved wall is the centerpiece of the house’s natural ventilation system. In summer, the wall functions as a heat chimney, pulling breezes off the lake through the house at its lower level and pushing warmer air out the top. In cooler months, the wall bounces natural daylight into the house. The siting of the house allows the owners to open the house to courtyards and terraces, views over the water, and the garden. The flat roof is planted with hardy succulents.




Masonry Institute of Washington, Masonry Institute of Washington Award



Lewis, Christina. “Daylight Savings.” The Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2006, W10. Print.


Stang, Alanna, and Christopher Hawthorne. The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture, Part 3. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, June 2005, 126-129. Book.

Quill, Jenny. “Designing the west.” Alaska Airlines Magazine, July 2005, R4-R5. Print.