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Building the Maxon House: Week 10

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 Ten: Maxon House Concept Design


In mid-July of 2008, my wife and I made our way up to the sixth floor offices of Olson Kundig Architects. It was one of the most exciting days for us since purchasing the property. We had completed and submitted our house program and now we'd be on hand for the unveiling of Tom Kundig's vision for our future dwelling. By this point Tom had visited our site and our past residence and scouted out the perfect spot on our 21-acre property to locate the house. We were both looking to see how he'd solve the puzzle of outfitting a modern dwelling for a family of five (my wife and I and three growing boys) in addition to creating an office or studio space for my business and a place for storage and parking.

One of the things I remember clearly from researching the firm and Tom's work was a quote from his book, thanking his clients "for their emotional and financial risk-taking in a poetic science—architecture is not a return or money-back-if-not-completely-satisfied deal."

This sentiment resonated with us. We were ready to roll the dice. We settled into the conference room. The space was decked out with site photos and shots of the kids running and playing on the property. Poster-sized maps locating our site and plans littered the cork walls of the light filled space. Tom Kundig and Edward LaLonde walked in and the show started.

One of the fun elements of the first meeting was starting to see ourselves as the client, as the family in the space. This was done in two ways during the presentation of design concepts. The firm started to build a visual storyboard in the presentation room and in the drawings themselves, portraying vector-based figures of the boys and my wife and I moving throughout the space and on the site.

For previous installments of "Building the Maxon House," click here.

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