Roanoke Reef Rowhouses
While the Rowhouse enjoys widespread popularity as a housing type in many other parts of the country, it was relatively unknown in Seattle when this project was designed.
In many ways, the success of the rowhouse can be attributed to its flexibility. The individual unit's parallel bearing walls with floors suspended between allows for interior remodeling without significant structural change.
The design of the Roanoke Reef Rowhouses took this time-honored method of construction
one step further. Standard structural designs require interior shear walls, perpendicular to the bearing walls, for stability. In the project, a system of steel frames were built around the internal stairways, which supply the required shear strength without any interior partitions.
This system is most apparent on the main living floor, where the Living Room, Kitchen, and Dining Room are uninterrupted by walls, and the stair is allowed to float through. The stair is a part of these rooms, rather than simply a connecting device; indeed the stair becomes the generator
of the plan, as rooms are created by expanding the landings as the stair makes its way from the entry level to the roof terrace.
Furthering this dialogue between the structure itself and the human occupancy that occurs over time, the building as a whole is supported by a concrete base, individual units identified by paired brick facades, and potentially individualizing elements such as the bay window and cornice, of wood, so that they may be allowed to change over time, perhaps even at the whim of the individual homeowner.