It’s not often that an architect gets a phone call from prospective clients to request that he or she create a sculpture for them, but that’s just what happened to residential designer Chris Pardo. “They’d seen my own house downtown and wanted me to design an original home for them,” Pardo recalls. “It was exciting and refreshing to hear someone approach me like that.”
Homeowners Jon and Cari Krueger, who have two children, had outgrown their old house but not its coveted Magnolia neighborhood, so they chose to rebuild on their existing lot. Their combined passions of international travel and American artwork—mostly black-and-white photography—formed the Kruegers’ wish list for the new home. “We wanted to feature our art collection, as well as the amazing Puget Sound views, and for the home to be really unique, like a piece of art,” says Jon. The couple also wanted something very modern, according to Cari, with an open floor plan, lots of light and a crisp, clean, minimalistic feel.
Pardo set about creating the one-of-a-kind home, collaborating with Luke Delen of Delen Construction Services to complete the build. Because the 5,000-square-foot lot is on a street corner, maximizing space and maintaining privacy were also important. “That’s how I came up with the notion of the form,” Pardo says of the home’s four-block structure. “Each block has several functions: some create privacy, some let in light, some capture views, and some create views.”
Resembling black-and-white photography themselves, the quadruple blocks are sheathed alternately in white aluminum panels and charcoalgray Hardie board. The first, which is white with no street-facing windows, contains the master bathroom that overlooks a private Japanese-inspired inner courtyard. Another block, which is gray, has the master bedroom on its first floor, the living and dining area on its second level, and an observation deck on its third floor. Next come the bedroom and utilitarian blocks, both rising three stories high; the latter includes the garage, kitchen and playroom on separate levels. “All the blocks are connected by systems of glass, so they’re united but you can still read them as separate volumes,” says Pardo, whose colleague Derry Betts created renderings and graphics for the design. “If you used solid walls, you’d lose the sculptural quality.”
Solid walls also make viewpoints and keeping an eye on the kids trickier. “A typical homeowner thinks horizontally in terms of functionality. We did it vertically,” says Pardo. “Instead of compartmentalized rooms, we made as many visual connections as possible via glass connectors. Every space ended up with multiple points of view.” For example, from the kitchen, there are sightlines to the Puget Sound scenery in the living and dining area, to the playroom, to the observation deck and to the rooftop garden. “The rooftop garden is a beautiful way to soften all the straight architectural lines,” says Jon of one of the home’s landscaping features, which were also designed by Pardo.
The modern architecture is also warmed up by the use of wood. Cedar appears on the outside to identify spaces, such as the observation deck. Inside, the ground floor features radiant-heated concrete, a transitioning material from the garage and street, whereas the upper floors are lined with stranded bamboo, connecting back to the exterior wood.
The owners—who are passionate about design and savvy to boot—collaborated with Pardo on the selection of finishes and consulted with Barbara Prince and Kimberly Lavarello of Interior Life when choosing the furnishings, which include neutral, functional and modern pieces that do not compete with the artwork or scenery. For the same reason, the interior paint finishes, down to those on the aluminum window frames, are a pristine white. “During the process, we loved the idea of the home but couldn’t visualize it,” says Cari. “Near completion, we were on the observation deck, and the magnitude of what Chris had done hit us. He’d designed for us a unique, artful home based on our taste, preference and lifestyle.”
But Pardo remains humble. “I always wanted my work to be the background and for the views and art to be the feature,” he says. “Any home is sculptural. What’s more important is a utilitarian sculpture that a family can live in.”