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Joseph Hurley Architects
Joseph Hurley Architects
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44th Street House
Underwood House
Ashworth House
Mercer Island House
Laurel Canyon House
Dash Point House
Green Lake House

Barton Street Lofts
Fremont Lofts
Thomas St. Townhouses

Grand Central Bakery
Westlake Tower

44th Street House
Seattle, WA

There are two big ideas and one question working in this house:  The first idea is that it is possible to make a good house from the prosaic materials and methods of builder-grade housing if they are used in a more considered way.  The second is that a “green” house is not much more expensive or complicated to build than a standard house if you are able to fit the house to the site and make appropriate choices about products and materials.  The question is: how do you make a house for a modern family?

The sustainable aspects I think of as "easy green":
Fit the house to the site
Super-insulate the envelope
Orient spaces and windows to maximize daylighting and controlled solar gain
Choose certified-sustainable materials and products when they are cost competitive
The site slopes away from the street significantly, almost ten feet from corner to corner. A “standard” configuration of spaces (up a few steps to the porch, through an entry to the main public rooms) would result in a main living area elevated eight feet above grade in the rear. The builder-style response to this condition would be a large deck off the living spaces and a flight of stairs down to a tiny backyard. The solution here was to retain the slightly elevated entry porch, but one enters at a mezzanine level and descends into the double-height kitchen/dining/living space.  This main space faces south at grade and opens to the back yard through a continuous bank of six French doors
The house is designed to be passive-solar; the main space has large south-facing windows and a concrete slab-on-grade floor. The low winter sun enters the space and warms the thermal mass in the room, while the high summer sun is kept out with exterior screening. Also in the main space is a CMU block hearth with a high-efficiency Rumford firebox.

Many of the detailing ideas in the house come from my experience as a framing carpenter prior to going back to design school. My archetypal experience was two months framing an addition to a health club. The day we finished, it was a spectacular assembly of wood studs, steel connectors and engineered wood beams. Two months later, it was covered in sheetrock and synthetic stucco, another pile in the American middle landscape. One of the ideas for this house was to allow the structure and systems of the house to remain exposed whenever possible. Floor joists and beams are exposed, wiring is in galvanized conduit and plumbing in black ductile iron. The large south-facing windows look like a commercial storefront assembly, but the system is comprised of engineered lumber, with no trim outside of the glazing stops.. The stairs treads are partially covered by commercial rubber treads, revealing them to be 2x12 LVLs. The stud walls that support and surround the stairs are clad in semi-transparent Lexan, showing their composition clearly. The manifolds that control the hydronic heating system are in an open frame in the stair hall; when the system is engaged, lights come on, dials move; the function is apparent.
The composition of the exterior of the house was interesting. When I told friends that the house was going to have vinyl windows and concrete-board siding, they looked at me like – you’ve got to be kidding. But there is nothing wrong with these materials, the problem is the way that they are used: almost always to imitate another, higher quality product. The idea here was to use details and proportions to highlight their innate strengths and true contemporary nature.
The house is designed for a family of readers. The transverse shear wall (with necessarily limited openings) is thickened by continuous bookcases. There are multiple task-lit nooks for reading.

Landscape Design: Heather Hirschy, Felopoldi
Photography: Martin Paul Photography

Site design and programming by Hawkins Consulting

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