North Bend House / Johnston Architects

© Will Austin Photography

As mountain guides, Scott Schell and Margaret Wheeler are used to the upper reaches of the Cascades. Their site in the foothills above Snoqualmie is not far from work. The 2,100 sqf house, designed by Johnston Architects and built by Tall Tree Construction, accommodates both professional and practical demands, but it also fulfills a deep desire to do what is right.


Architects: Johnston Architects
Location: North Bend, ,
Partner in Charge: Ray Johnston
Project Architect: Sara Imhoff
Landscape Architect: Scott Schell
Structural Engineer: BTL Engineering
Contractor: Tall Tree Construction
Client: Schell & Wheeler
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Will Austin Photography

© Will Austin Photography

This house was built on site with many materials found, milled and crafted on the site. Blow-down trees from storms provided the logs that were milled into siding, fascias and trim. Large firs and cedars were felled, cured and processed to provide beams and some framing materials. A ground source heat pump supplemented by solar water preheating supplies energy to the house. To this, recycled materials, FSC certified materials, grey water recycling and other strategies are the basis of the soon to be achieved LEED Silver status of this house.


The historic fabric of this complex lies in the history of use of the land and indoor/outdoor occupation of forested space. The mud room, nearby wood storage, use of varied floor materials to shake off the debris of the outside, simple roof forms are all part of this solution. Rather than dig the house into its hillside, we bridged across for an upper floor entry, minimizing grading and other disruption to the existing environment. Two thousand native plantings were made to restore the forest floor upon completion. Even on a grey and rainy day this forest retreat is filled with light.

© Will Austin Photography
Cite: "North Bend House / Johnston Architects" 13 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Koda design

    Nice sections

  • Scott

    I like the approach in the (first) house that cantilevers over the open living space and elevated views of the landscape. Good use of the natural slope and terrain.

    I agree with Koda that the section is nice, however, the drawings themselves are not nice. Line-weights are not drawn carefully to show what is cut, near, and beyond. It looks like they just exported this from BIM and took what it gave them. We constantly have to draft over Revit models in our office to correct it’s graphic inefficiencies (doesn’t make sense to have to do this – especially on details).

  • Mr. Bojangles

    Love it. Straight up contemporary pacific northwest vernacular, Seahawks bright green accents to boot!

  • Mat

    What a great couple of buildings. The sections have been noted above but the plans are fantastic.

    I agree with Scott, the plans would have been great drawn by hand ;-)

  • Rory

    The work coming out of this firm makes me love the northwest even more than I already do, would love to live here one day!

  • Jonathan

    the exterior looked promising, maybe a little too much glazing, But the interior was a nightmare.