Michaels-Sisson Residence

Michaels-Sisson Residence

Architect
The Miller Hull Partnership
Location
Mercer Island, Washington, USA | View Map
Project Year
1998
Category
Private Houses
Art Grice

Michaels-Sisson Residence

The Miller Hull Partnership as Architects

Situated on a steeply sloping, wooded site alongside a small stream, this residence includes two main stories above a two-story concrete block base containing service spaces. An industrial palette of materials—steel, concrete block and metal siding—were chosen not only for aesthetic appeal, but also for ease of maintenance.


The concrete block base acts structurally as a stiffened box to retain a 15-foot cut into the steep site. The box raises the main living spaces up off the forest floor to increase access to light and air. An expressed steel moment frame with large wood windows maximizes views into all levels of the forest. One bay of the four-square moment frame contains a large vertical lift door that opens the house to the site, blurring the boundary between inside and out. At that point, a deck connects the house to the steep hill, providing a level outdoor platform among the trees.


An entry stair tower alongside the garage is cantilevered to prevent damage to the roots of existing Douglas fir trees on the site. This stair leads visitors past the first floor, which contains two children’s bedrooms, a bathroom, a small play area, laundry and mechanical storage. As one continues up the stairs, the landing widens to provide space for a small computer area outside of the path of circulation. The upper two stories cantilever off the lower-level garage and bedrooms in an effort to minimize the building footprint on the site. Large sliding panels in the main spaces open up rooms to each other and the outside, creating the feel of an area larger than actually is contained, which forms a living space within the trees.

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