Sound House

Location: Seattle, WA
Size: 6,000 Square Feet
Completion Date: In design phase
Project Team: Jon Gentry AIA, Aimée O’Carroll ARB

Project Narrative

The Sound House is located in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. Magnolia is a hilly peninsula north west of downtown with expansive views across the Puget Sound and to downtown Seattle. The project is a 6,000 square foot single family home replacing the existing 2,000 square foot house built in the 1920’s. The steeply sloped site runs from northwest at its high point to southeast at its low. There is an existing plateau at the top of the house where the new structure will be sited. An existing series of terraced gardens and pathways will be reworked to form a dining terrace and pool terrace nestled into the slope.

The program for the house is unique in that it needs to house a large family of two adults and six children. The house is designed to be enjoyed by all members of the family with plentiful living space and access to the many exterior terraces and roof decks. One of the driving factors in the design of the house was the almost 360 degree views from the site - the design allows these to be maximized on each of the levels.

The house is spread across two main levels and a basement opening out onto the pool terrace.. From the street the house appears as two stacked bars with the materiality of the lower mass grounding the building and lightweight porous upper level revealing hints of the interior space. The upper level is clad in vertical wood slats which opens up to form a screen wall over the upper level glazing.

Entering the house through a wide hallway creates a physical and visual connection from front to back and a glimpse of the views beyond. The rear of the house opens up to the garden terraces and swimming pool. The main level is largely glazed on this side allowing the living spaces a direct relationship to the terraces.

At the heart of the house is a double height living space with wood burning fireplace and chimney that extends vertically through the space. Passing from public to private space as you ascend through the void, the transparency of the house responds by moving from open glazing to a wood slat brise-soleil, filtering sunlight and screening the interior spaces from the street.The void is flanked either side at the upper level with the kids wing and master wings connected by a lightweight bridge. Both wings have an active relationship to this main living space and each other whilst retaining their own privacy and character.

The kids wing functions as a bunkhouse of sorts, with 6 small bedrooms arranged around a sun filled central playspace with large skylight above. Built in desks and storage around the perimeter of the play space provide for the functional needs removed from the bedrooms, this allows the bedrooms to feel more spacious and largely remain sleeping spaces. The rooftop above the garage becomes an extension of the kids playspace at this level.The Master wing cantilevers dramatically out over the dining terrace and pool below. Impressive views of the city and Puget Sound are seen from the master deck and bedroom. A luxurious master bathroom with outdoor shower platform and his/hers dressing room occupy the central section of the wing. A small office/guest bed is located in the northwest corner.  Accessed from the upper level bridge, a suspended staircase leads to a large roof deck and gardens. The staircase is housed within a light monitor which drops natural light down into the living room below.

This project is currently under construction with completion scheduled for March 2020.


Contractor: Thomas Fragnoli
Structural Engineer: Swenson Say Faget, Kevin Winner
Civil Engineer: J Welch Engineering, Josh Welch
Lighting Design: Niteo