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Building the Maxon House: Week 3

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week Three: Thoughts on site...


When we started we thought it was all about the house. Our thinking was: find cheap land and voila, the rest would take care of itself. As we later engaged with the architect and his work, we learned that site carried at least the same weight as the architecture of the eventual house. Each feature of the site we would engage with had its own opportunities and challenges. We hadn't considered this as we embarked on our site search and selection. In the end, we selected a site purely on instinct and raw potential. This decision, although risky, proved to pay off down the road as we experienced the complete transformation of the site and its true beauty. All photos by Maxon House unless otherwise noted.

At no time during our site search was our priority finding a multi-acre forested site—but as anybody looking for a new home knows, sometimes you go in looking for one thing and come out with something completely different. Early in the site selection we visited the parcel many times. As many times as we could, we brought the whole family. We’d bring colored vinyl tape and start to block out areas where we thought the house could potentially go.

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