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photo of Rimrock
Photo: Benjamin Benschneider


Spokane, Washington


Spokane, Washington

  • Design Principal

    Tom Kundig

  • Principal

    Steven Rainville

The particular form of Rimrock – a T-shaped structure – responds to the unique topography of the bluff upon which it is situated. At the edge of a cliff, the house straddles two sides of wash atop a stable outcropping of tough, slow-cooled volcanic basalt. The name “rimrock” refers to this type of geological occurrence with a sheer rock wall at the upper edge of a plateau or canyon.

The seam below the house is a natural, preexisting path for animals, who use it to move between the mountains and the river. Even though the house is now here, they can still move unimpeded. The sensitive nature of the landscape, as well as its unique climatic, solar and seasonal conditions called for careful positioning of the home and consideration of materials.

Knowing that changing wind patterns in the winter can create massive snow drifts, hovering the house above the ground plane allows the use of full-height windows to maximize 180-degree views overlooking Riverside State Park and north Spokane—valley, mountains, forest, river, city—without piles of snow accumulating directly against them. The interior remains open, but also protected.

Tough, durable building materials, mostly mild steel and glass, were used to stand up to harsh environmental conditions and will weather naturally. The steel paneling and structure is 90-95% reclaimed material locally sourced by the owner. There are automatic, seasonally adjusted exterior shades on all windows, which significantly decrease the energy used for cooling. Erosion on the site is prevented by collecting all rain water runoff from the roof into one dry well that percolates the water slowly back into the ground water system.




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