Text by Ian Volner
The Pacific Northwest’s long tradition of a highly specific, localized variety of Modernism (stretching from Pietro Belluschi straight on through to Jim Olson, FAIA, and Tom Kundig, FAIA) has been one of America’s most significant contributions to global architecture—an outstanding example of what Kenneth Frampton, Assoc. AIA, would call “critical regionalism.” That tradition is being carried forward with aplomb by Seattle-based MW|Works Architecture+Design, whose Case Inlet Retreat has all the hallmarks of the phenomenon: Located on a 20-acre plot on the southern shore of Washington State’s Puget Sound, the building’s interior highlights natural wood finishes (including rough-hewn cedar bathroom walls) and features glass enclosures around the main living volume, maximizing views. The kitchen and adjoining patio share an ipe deck that further strengthens the connection between inside and out, and it’s all topped by a concrete slab that projects over the house’s western edge and functions as an upper-level terrace, reached via a delicate steel staircase, that affords sweeping views of the sound and the surrounding forest. The fixtures and furniture—from the outdoor grilling block, to the living room cabinetry, to the concrete kitchen counters—all rhyme in material, scale, and detailing with the house itself, making it a complete design environment that doesn’t seem forced or fussy. All in all, a remarkable example of the area’s favored stylistic mode, qualified with an urbane minimalism that seems entirely MW’s own.
Project: Case Inlet Retreat, Lakebay, Wash.
Client: Harry and Claudia Bray
Architect: MW|Works Architecture+Design, Seattle . Eric Walter, Steve Mongillo, AIA (principals); Suzanne Stefan
Structural Engineer: PCS Structural Solutions
General Contractor: Alford Homes
Size: 2,600 square feet
This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of ARCHITECT magazine.