I recently posted a few photos of my house in a Facebook group, which kind of opened a can of worms. The limited number of photos led to a lot of questions about the design. People asked for both more photos and an explanation! While there is additional information on the Stargate page on this site, it's also pretty limited, so I thought I would make a few blog entries to provide more information, as well as move the discussion over here to my blog. Facebook got mad at me for commenting on almost every one of the 1.5K comments over there. I shouldn't have that problem here. It's easier for me to add more here in response to questions, as well.
FINAL SKETCH A hand-drawn sketch of the final design. While other configurations were studied early on, once this image was on paper, it was hard to resist. There are some difference between this sketch and the final design, of course, but it's pretty close for a crude sketch!
The first floor is an essentially a daylight basement. The East side (top, in these drawings) is against the hillside, and the West side (bottom) has windows. By the time it gets to the parking area, it is at grade. This level contains my studio (labeled here as storage so the building department wouldn't think it was either a garage or a bedroom (it is neither), and a guest suite, with its own bathroom.
This floor is at grade (more or less) with the street to the East, and is access via the entry bridge, partially shown at the top of this drawing. This is a sort of a "racetrack" design surrounding the guest bath, with the kitchen and dining connected to the living room via the entry space and the stair landing, respectively. The main attached deck is accessed through dining, and is often used as an adjunct to that function, while the lower detached deck is a half a level down the stairway.
The third floor is mostly bedrooms. My office is in the area labeled "Sitting", and our daughter's room is a the opposite end. The area immediately inside the door is her library, and holds 1,000 books. I had to add to the bookshelves twice. The deck outside the bedroom is the area of ultimate relaxation that many people on Facebook were concerned about. It's where we have Happy Hour on a nice day. The view is spectacular.
The shared bathroom, while a risky move, worked out fine. We have all learned to respect each others' privacy, and be less concerned about our own. The shower is open to the room, and is depressed 4" below the floor on the left and 16" on the right, with two steps in between. I borrowed this from a really cool shower in a hotel in Thailand. The lowered floor is made possible by the lower ceiling height in the bathroom below.
I have been told that you can't have a closet without doors on it, but none of the closets on this floor have doors, and they work out just fine. Much easier access to the clothes!
This is a section through the "Stargate" area of the house. You can see the round form, the repeating low-profile dome skylights, the decorate panels (hugging the perimeter), the stairs, and more. You can also see the lowered ceiling in the bathroom/entry/stair landing area that allows for the sunken shower floor. If you look closely, you can find the center point from which the various radii are sprung throughout the section. Those pilings below (ten of them) go down fourth-eight feet into the ground, and the tie-backs goes on a diagonal for sixty feet. This is from the construction drawings, so it's pretty much final, except for the final design of the bridge and rear stair and their railings, which were designed ad-hoc on site during the construction.
WALL FRAMING This is the framing drawing for the upper two floors (the first floor has concrete walls). It represents all of the exterior walls laid flat, as if the building were unfolded. It includes not only the framing members, but the plywood sheathing as well, and illustrates the extent to which the structure, buildability, and level of detail that were considered in the design.
This is the entry side of the house. An otherwise somewhat unassuming (other than the color) barn-shaped structure pierced by an aggressive cylindrical entry structure, connected to the street by a bridge, and all supported on a concrete plinth. The red siding is interrupted by two horizontal rows of windows before making it's way over the roof and down the other side. Windows on this side of the building are considered as part of the surface system, not "holes" in it.
We also see the cylindrical "Stargate" making it's way over the house, punctuated by a regular rhythm of aluminum panels, round shallow-domed skylights, and red marker lights.
Working our way around the house, we see both the entry bridge and exit stairway in full profile in this view, including the guarding granite lions. The red siding has turned the corner by a wall thickness, giving the shape the distinct shape of a child's drawing of a house. This is infilled by the Hardi-board shingles, which are punctuated by a couple of windows and door. These windows are set back into the building wall to express the depth, and contrast with the tighter windows on the East and West.
The actual profile of the cylindrical "Stargate" section can be seen clearly in this view as well, peeking out from behind the house shape in both the East and West directions. At the East (to the right), it is carved back to create a portal for the entry door, and permit the small slit window above.
This is the most fully developed three-dimensional side of the house. The windows are much larger than those on the East side, and at eye-level rather than at transom height, because there's a great view in this direction. There's also more usable outdoor space (including the decks) on this side, so these windows connect those inside with those outside. There is a deck at ground level (slightly elevated) in the foreground that doesn't show in this drawing (it wasn't designed yet), but it's where the stairs from the yellow door go. The deck to the right is off of the dining room, and there are cafe tables on it. It's a great party space. Up above to the left is the Master Bedroom deck, which is used mostly for happy hour for the two of us, as well as Space Needle fireworks viewing, etc. (Yes, we can see the space needle from there). Also apparent in this drawing is the relief work in the concrete, coordinated with both the form work and the windows.
Finally, we get around to the North elevation, that no one can really see. However, you can see the disposition of windows, which align more or less with the "racetrack" aspect of the floor plan, creating through-lines in the spaces, so that is almost always a window in your direct line of sight. The red profile and the shingle infill return, echoing what's going on on the South side. The concrete patterning is resolved around the corner and ends at the chimney.
Various views of the house that were created during the design process. Most of these illustrate the finished design, but there may be variations as the design morphed over time.