Architects: William / Kaven Architecture
- Area: 4512 ft²
- Year: 2020
Photographs:Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA
Manufacturers: AutoDesk, C.R. Laurence, Argeton, Concrete Structures, Emtek, Ergon, Fleetwood, Intrepid Marble and Granite, Kone, Trimble Navigation
Lead Architect: Trevor William Lewis
- Lead Designer: Daniel Kaven
- City: Portland
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. Situated on a narrow corner lot in Northwest Portland’s Alphabet District, the four-story Skyview residence maximizes panoramic views of Portland’s tallest buildings, five bridges, and several of the Cascade Mountains’ most iconic peaks. Inverting the typical residential program, Skyview’s primary living quarters, entertainment spaces, and kitchen are located on the top floor, where unobstructed views become the backdrop for floor-to-ceiling glass walls that part at the corners. The 30-foot elevation, accessible via a commercial elevator or a floating staircase, raises everyday living above the power lines and traffic noise of a bustling neighborhood.
A rooftop water feature borders the top-floor living area to mitigate noise. Structured with a core of board-formed concrete, Skyview is clad in glazed terracotta, contributing a classic character to a distinctly modern home. Large swaths of transparency at every level reveal a warm interior featuring a continuous matching walnut veneer. In the master bath, a free-standing bathtub sits atop a bed of river rocks backed by a solid-slab Calacatta marble wall. The bath area opens onto a rooftop with an outdoor shower surrounded by lush foliage for privacy. Skyview’s ground level houses a custom-designed art studio, complete with a CNC machine, that opens to a ground-level courtyard.
Throughout the design process, the design team contended with complex zoning setbacks and height restrictions, as well as the unique contextual character of the neighborhood, which comprises a hybrid of homes, apartment buildings, and industrial structures. Skyview needed to negotiate height transitions in order to contextualize the relationship between these three building types, hence the staggered, breathable levels. Skyview's design draws on research and discovery of the neighborhood's historical context.
The home overlooks Portland’s historic Montgomery Park building, which formerly housed the operations of the pioneering department store retailer Montgomery Ward. In addition to goods, Montgomery Ward designed and sold pre-fabricated kit homes from the early 1900s until 1931, several of which can still be found in Skyview's neighborhood. Part of the design concept was to create a conversation around modern architecture in the context of the stamped-out residential design of the past.
The owners traded a lushly landscaped house in the West Hills for an urban walkable neighborhood to reduce their reliance on automobiles. They wanted to incorporate as much of the landscape experience from their previous house into this compact, dense urban site. The solution was to ground the exterior of the house in raised planters and a courtyard, and to introduce exterior planted terraces at every level, bringing the landscape up and into the house.
Well-being and sustainability goals for this project included site selection in an urban walkable neighborhood; the use of biophilic design; and the creation of a comfortable and efficient indoor environment. All four levels have accessible outdoor garden spaces, balconies, and terraces. Material selections were made to minimize or eliminate VOCs for a healthy indoor environment. For comfort and energy efficiency, the extensive glazing is high-performance low-E coated glass, and the heating system is an in-floor radiant system.