“Conceived as a secure and unexpected retreat nestled into the rock, The Pierre (the French for stone) celebrates the materiality of the site. From certain angles, the house―with its rough materials, encompassing stone, green roof, and surrounding foliage―almost disappears into nature.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal
Architect: Olson Kundig
Location: San Juan Islands, Washington, USA
Status: Built; Completed 2010Project Size: 2,500 SF
Project Team: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal; Chris Gerrick, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, Project Manager; Client and Olson Kundig Interiors, Interior Design
Key Consultants: Schuchart/Dow Construction, General Contractor; Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Civil Engineer; MCE Structural Consultants, Structural Engineer; Associated Earth Sciences, Geotechnical Engineer
Craftspeople: McCallum Rock Drilling (rock drilling and blasting); Westlake Concrete (architectural concrete walls and floors); Modrock Concrete Design (concrete floor finishing, kitchen countertops); Turner Exhibits (large pivoting steel door fabrication); Terry Wean (masonry and stone finishing); Rob Capelle (custom stain for cabinetry); Decorative metal Arts (custom master bedroom screen door and drain at master bath sink); Argent Fabrication (steel entry door); 12th Avenue Iron (custom powder room sink and master bath screen partitions); Schuchart/Dow Construction (kitchen and bedroom cabinetry); Kelly Worrell (fabrication of custom light fixtures based on original designs by Irene McGowan); Village Interiors (custom upholstery); Twisted Metal (metal cladding and miscellaneous metal trim); JD Equipment (rock removal and site excavation); Nutech Stone Cutting (fireplace hearth); Tydi Cut (stone cutting and powder room tube); Site Welding Services (structural steel);Optimum Windows (steel window frames); Olympic Glass and Door (window and door glazing); HI-Tek Lightworks (A/V and security); Rude Electric (line voltage work); Prokash (plumbing)
Photographers: Benjamin Benschneider, Dwight Eschliman
The owner’s affection for a stone outcropping on her property and the views from its peak inspired the design of this house. To set the house deep into the site, portions of the rock outcropping were excavated through machine work and handwork. The contractor used large drills to set the outline of the building, then used dynamite, hydraulic chippers, a selection of wire saws and other hand tools, working with finer and finer implements as construction progressed. Excavated rock was re-used as crushed aggregate in the concrete flooring. Excavation marks were left exposed on all the stonework, a reminder of the building process.
“The Pierre is a modern house exploring traditional site and building strategies. In the spirit of using available materials on the site – like a log or sod home – we took a natural object from the site – the rock – and repurposed it in the building of this home. It’s both a quarry and a structure.” –Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA, Design Principal
Throughout the house, the rock extrudes into the space, contrasting with the luxurious textures of the furnishings. Interior and exterior fireplace hearths are carved out of existing stone; leveled on top, they are otherwise left raw. The master bathroom’s sink is composed of water cascading through three polished pools in the existing stone. Both the entry sequence and a powder room are fully carved out of the rock.
With the exception of a guest suite, the Pierre functions on one main level, with an open plan kitchen, dining and living space. A large pivoting steel and glass door opens for access to an outdoor terrace.
Olson Kundig is a collaborative global design practice whose work expands the context of built and natural landscapes. Led by five owners, the firm’s work can be found in more than fifteen countries on five continents, with projects ranging from cultural and museum projects to exhibition design, commercial and mixed-use design, private and multi-family residential, hospitality projects, places of worship, interior design, product design and landscape design.