Sky Arc Residence / Will Bruder Architects

© Bill Timmerman

The crescent plan of the house derives its form from topography and landscape, embedded in the hillside and similar to the gentle curvature of the Northern California hills. Structures are placed for maximum preservation of native vegetation, including specimen Coast Live Oak and Madrone trees. Several landmark trees become focal points at entry or in foreground views. The simple volumes, clad in pre-weathered pewter-gray zink, are intended to recede into the texture of the landscape.

Architect: Will Bruder Architects
Location: California,
Project Area: 6,500 sqf
Photographs: Bill Timmerman

© Bill Timmerman

Vertical ‘standing seam’ fins in the cladding create a randomly-spaced shadow pattern like shadows of Pines and Redwoods on the site. Small panels of venetian plaster punctuate rooms with colors of land, sun, and sky, recalling Eames or Nelson design, or the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn. Glass is ‘solex green’, for visual harmony with landscape; operable windows are mahogany for their warmth, and linkage to architectural traditions of the place, including Maybeck, Moore, Esherick, Eichler, and Kahn. In lieu of overhangs, shade is provided by translucent fiberglass awnings—gossamer thin blue filters for the Bay Area sun—luminous for overcast January days.


The house is a choreography of light and shadow, of exterior and interior, and private and public spaces. Descending from the entry above, a framed bay view introduces the visitor to the house and its natural surroundings. The sense of movement—past window seats, through doors, across rooms—carries a sensual freshness and continuity throughout the house. The main sitting room expands through glass and sliding partitions to a cantilevered wood deck and lawn terrace; boundaries dissolve into the landscape through airy perforated metal railings and translucent fiberglass awnings.

© Bill Timmerman

The music studio across the garden is inset several feet in the earth, placing window sills at grade. The interiors have reverberant concrete floor, with faceted wall linings of wood, plaster, and fabric to absorb, diffuse, and reflect sound. In concept these lightweight foldings are origami fans within stone boxes, giving form to the experiences of making and hearing music.

site plan

This is an architecture formed of its site, an abstraction blended with the tone and topography of its natural context, deferring to the sublime wooded garden site. It is conceived as an enfolding nest to embrace the family and their habitation of house and landscape, adapting through stages of living. It will foster a lifestyle colored by the inherent beauty and wonder of the place. Constantly shifting with patterns of light, weather and season, it will be a place of continual engagement of creativity and the senses—a composition of precise proportion and scale, texture and refinement.

© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman

Project Team: Will Bruder (Design), Ben Nesbeitt, (Design Associate + Project Manager), Eric Weber, Jeff Densic, Rob Gaspard, Michael Crooks, Tom Cheney, Joe Herzog,
Katie Jones, Richard Jensen, Dwayne Smyth, Troy Strange, Dominique Price, John Puhr
Geotechnical: Salem Howes Associates—Vince Howes
Civil Engineer: I. L. Schwartz Associates—Irving Schwartz, Arthur Smith
Landscape Architecture: Lawrence Halprin—Lawrence Halprin, Gary Roth
Structural Engineer: rudow + berry, inc.—Mark Rudow
Structural Fiberglass: Plecnik Engineering—Dr. Joe Plecnik
Mechanical Engineer: Otterbein Engineering—Roy Otterbein
Electrical Engineer: Associated Engineering Inc.—Chris Moe
Recording Studio and Acoustics: Michael Blackmer, Acoustician—Michael Blackmer
Lighting: Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design—Teal Brogden, Tina Aghassian
General Contractor: Van Acker Construction Associates—Gary Van Acker Glen Sherman (Superintendent), Glenn Goodman, Alicia Chazen

Cite: "Sky Arc Residence / Will Bruder Architects" 11 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • ariana roberts

    how long did it take to build this? it’s magnificent.

    • Eric Weber

      my comment below should have been a reply… about 2 years was the response.

  • Eric Weber

    about 2 years. it was a fabulous experience!