The choice of the principal material in this extraordinary house was arrived at only after a careful and sympathetic evaluation by the designer of his clients’ fondness for all things Asian, their admiration of fine workmanship, and their request for a dramatic, romantic house — contemporary, yet Eastern in feeling: a tall order.
The challenge was met by the architect’s talent for working with laminated wood construction.
Although he had seldom used this technique in residences, he chose to install a high curved wood ceiling because of the pagoda-like grace which the house logically demanded — and richly deserved.
Wood, as the Japanese knew a thousand years ago, is a sculptural material and, in brilliant proof, the roof of the house rests on its supporting frame like a pair of inverted wings. It is indoors, however, that the intricate marquetry construction is most effective.
Tapered, laminated fir beams form deep overhangs at their base, then soar upward in arcs to end as slender terminals at a plastic skylight that bisects the house.
An exposed ceiling of lapped cedar boards is cradled in the beams like the hulls of twin ships, and the entire sweep of wood has been treated with an oil finish, which is slowly darkening the cedar and fir to the color of smoky topaz.
The fireplace and low wall on the right wall was made of rocks set in concrete. A huge white fireplace hood — a very tall version of the midcentury modern staple — serves as the focal point of this room.