Big Views, Small Views

   iss-high ext

This recently completed residence in the Issaquah Highlands, 20 miles east of Seattle, enjoys spectacular views. A big part of our role here was to know when to get out of the way!


iss-high bigview

A central circulation spine screens private zones while channeling visitors towards the open kitchen-living-dining area. With its subtle nods to Japanese traditions, the house is as much about choreography as building



iss-high smallview

More intimate framed views of the contemplative garden and the art collection provide contrast before the vista finally opens completely at the rear of the house.


iss-high ext2

Generous overhangs and deliberately engineered cross-ventilation provide effective passive cooling and weather protection for this mountaintop site.



CAST Architecture:  Stefan Hampden, Matt  Hutchins, Forrest Murphy

Add’l Design:  Eric Oliner

Calista Interiors:  Calista Munnell

Stoney Point Engineering (Structural): Dwayne Barnes

Core Design Inc. (Geotechnical & Civil): Glenn Sprague

BDR Custom Homes:  Steven Jewett


Saratoga Residence

saratoga-backyard Here are some photos of the Saratoga House--just need some landscaping!



Outdoor dining room off the kitchen


View from the family room to the breakfast bar and kitchen beyondsaratoga-kitchen

The Big Island


The Big Island again.


The breakfast bar's single support--custom fabricated stainless steel. saratoga-staircase

The view from the front door, looking up the walnut/glass/steel staircase


Saratoga construction update

zarins-columns Our Saratoga House is suddenly feeling much more put together--most of the cabinetry is in, the stone tile is completed throughout the interior, split face stone going up the arcade columns.  Stucco and the metal roof are on the horizon.


The interior of the house is very open, very connected to the backyard. Not yet installed is the eating bar which will come out parallel with the kitchen island, and supported on a stainless steel tripod.  The staircase is wrapped in more cabinets, with stainless and glass railings.

saratoga design construction

See more photos after the jump:


We'll be wrapping the arcade roof with standing seam metal all the way around, running the split face limestone up the columns, and matching up the interior stone tile with the exterior tile (same stone, but a change in texture for better footing outside).  The drain in front of the Weiland doors is going to be very understated--a 1/2" slot between courses.


The island is 14' long, 4 1/2' wide--two butterflied slabs of 'Silver Wave' marble.  As the focal point of the kitchen, and the center of family life/entertaining, we really took it over the top!


The cabinet wall is highlighted by a linear skylight.



The ceilings and soffits will be high gloss white aluminum panels. We installed a plywood underlayment to simplify panel layout and minimize panel distortion.

All photos are courtesy of Phil Dietz / Lost River Construction.

This photo is looking down the entry veranda toward the front door:


Looking from the front door toward the sauna wing and entry veranda:


Completed plywood underlay in the great room:


First panels go up in the Master bedroom:


Master bedroom ceiling complete:


Detail of fasteners:


Recent rendering put together for an advertisement:





Box wall

box-wall-1We finally have finished our plywood box wall! The light catches the plywood grain a little differently, highlighting the alternating steel stairs to the mezzanine pinned off the concrete, are the next undertaking. cast architecture office plywood box wall

The depth of the boxes are modulated to create niches for models, samples and audiovisual equipment.

Shou-sugi-ban--charred cedar siding

I am building a little painting studio in my backyard, and wanted to try out 'shou-sugi-ban,' a traditional japanese technique of burning the wood siding to create a thin charcoal layer to protect the wood, in lieu of staining/painting.

I tied three boards together in a triangle with baling wire, and stood the bundles on a small fire.  The fire wicks up the inside of the bundle after about a minute, with flames coming out of the top after about two minutes.  I then flipped the bundle, burnt from the other end for another 30-45 seconds.

Once I had the surface fully burnt, I laid them down, clipped the wire and extinguished the fire.  I had to use a blow torch to touch up the areas along the edge that didn't get charred.  I have seen some people use a roofer's torch to blacken the surface, then brush off the soot and apply Penofin, but I wanted the full charcoal layer.


And here is the shed with the siding up!

It was a bit of an adventure to maneuver the 8' planks while they are on fire, and messy to deal with (since I kept the charcoal layer intact), but I love the texture and the way it shifts between silver and black in the light.


Big Turnout for CAST's office warming party!

Thank you to all our friends and colleagues that came out last night to help us celebrate our new office space!  Standing room only!  Now if only one of us had thought to snap a picture when the crowd was actually there.... cast's office

Since we haven't decided what to do with the big wall that separates the desks from the conference/copy space, we took all the recycled moving boxes, cut them down on the table saw, then glued them up, thus recycling them again.   Perfect for the party!

the boxes leaking light into the copy room

the randomly stacked boxes viewed from the desks


beam-ends Kate and Ric have begun construction on their backyard cottage... They have been working hard the last few weeks and have enlisted the help of a few friends and colleagues along the way. A few key players have been helping guide us through the process:

  • Rusty Borromeo of Borromeo Construction LLC is providing his general contractor and construction expertise
  • James Jenkins of O'Brien & Company is contributing his green building knowledge and will be our Built Green Verifier  - we are aiming for 5 star Built Green certification
  • Cory Fraser of LFD Structural Engineering LLC provided the calculations and engineering for our plan set

Ric has been doing a wonderful job of photographing the process and has put together a few galleries of the construction process thus far (all images in this post are © 2010 Ric Cochrane). He has also agreed to write up a blog post on the experience thus far - so stay tuned for that!

DECONSTRUCTION GALLERY An existing shed (that was a bit worse for wear) was painstakingly deconstructed and all reusable and recyclable materials were sorted and stacked deconstruction

LABOR OF LOVE - THE FOUNDATION Digging in the dirt and other fun activities - the true definition of 'sweat equity!' slab

LUMBER FROM THE BONE-YARD Salvaged beams, columns and decking are being purchased from Bruce Borjesson of Pacific Resources boneyard

BLOGGING A SEATTLE BACKYARD COTTAGE - a CAST architecture case study project

house Greenwood resident Kate Lichtenstein contacted us last spring to help her design a backyard studio / guest house for her modest 650 square foot 1920's one bedroom home (shown above). While the home's scale fits nicely with Kate's desire to have a simple and ecologically responsible lifestyle it falls a little short when it comes to a rough and ready workshop space for art, bicycle repair, ski tuning and building projects. Kate's home also lacks the space for a home office / guest room - something that she would like to integrate into the new structure.

Our initial goal was to have her project under construction by late summer 2009 but we were unable to get the project off the ground by that time. In hindsight, the stalling of the project turned out to be a stroke of luck...

In March of 2009 Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proposed legislation that would allow Seattle homeowners to construct backyard cottages on their property. The legislation was reviewed and ultimately passed by the Seattle city council on November 2nd 2009 (with a 9 to 0 vote too! Kudos to Seattle voters for electing progressive urbanists for city council members!).

For Kate the ordinance has opened up new possibilities for a structure that can both accommodate her current needs and provide a potential source of income as a rental unit if her finances ever fall on hard times. Besides allowing for a legal detached rental unit the ordinance also allows for the construction of a two story structure – an arrangement that will work well for Kate’s needs and will help to preserve the spaciousness of her backyard.

Kate is planning to build with a mind toward sustainability and has a special interest in using recycled building materials whenever possible (she is, at this time, planning to write a parallel blog on the topic of recycled building materials). For us at CAST architecture Kate's project is an exciting chance to test out the new backyard cottage ordinance and work with a client who is committed to building green. We see her project as an excellent opportunity to provide the general public with information about the process of designing and building a backyard cottage in Seattle. Kate and her partner Ric Cochrane are always game for an adventure and have graciously agreed to allow us to share their experience with you. To that end, we are planning to blog about Kate's project as we travel through the design and construction process. Please subscribe to our feed if you would like to follow along in future posts…


sheep wool insulation!

This product isn't new, but new to us:  sheep wool insulation. Sheep wool insulation has some advantages over other forms of insulation, especially fiberglass batts.  It stays lofted, retains R-value even when there is moisture penetration.  It installs like fiberglass batts, but there are no masks, no off gassing, no itchiness.  Plus the product is all natural, and there aren't the environmental impacts of making fiberglass.

There are a couple big downsides:

1--this is not a local product, and there are carbon costs associated with bringing the insulation to our neck of the woods (although bringing together the elements to make fiberglass isn't carbon free either)

2--the cost is about $2.16 per sf, which is roughly three times the cost of fiberglass, or 50% more than spray foam.