Phinney Modern by pb Elemental

Phinney Modern by pb Elemental

“There’s a driveway right through it to another house”

Phinney Modern by pb Elemental

Finished in the 3rd quarter of 2011, the owners of this Seattle home are surely celebrating their 2nd year in residence. And they may still be recovering from the trials and tribulations of choosing to custom build on an “unusual” lot.

Seattle Department of Planning & Development - DPD GISWords like oddball, unusual, easement, restricted, constrained, 20-degree slope are used by the owner to describe the lot – and all this before the feared words “Environmental Critical Area” come to bear.  Later it is revealed that “the survey was surprisingly off, and the slope of the lot was more than expected.” < ! >  Once these difficulties are dealt with there is obvious pride and enjoyment for the owner in pursuing to completion a modern architecture dream of “open spaces, clean lines, and minimalist finishes.”

In truth, what other style of home could be adapted to take advantage of a rare piece of oddball real estate in a sought-after neighbourhood with good schools and good views? From being ‘upside down’ with the main living space three flights up from ground, to the rooftop decks and puny yard to the twisty cantilever extending over the unfortunate easement, there’s really no other choice for this site but what pb Elemental dreamed up for the client.

The homes of the pacific northwest US, and this one in particular with it’s development story blogged for our enjoyment, is one of our triggers for appreciating architecture via architourism.  Some downtime during a trip to Seattle some twenty years ago led to a motor tour of Mercer Island and a lap around Lake Washington simply to check out cool places like this.  It’s surely a symptom of the west coast latitudes, having a similar effect from Vancouver to San Francisco to Los Angeles, but known to have an effect in places all around the world.


Phinney Modern by pb Elemental
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Phinney Modern by pb Elemental 47.667553, -122.358470 Phinney Modern by pb Elemental

Original Street View Date: July 2011



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Property Location

Phinney Ridge, Seattle, WA, USA
Phinney Ridge, Seattle, WA, USA


Phinney Modern by pb Elemental

From the architect:

2510 sq. ft. single family home located in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood – This home was designed for a young family on a small in-fill lot. The lot was very challenging just over 2000 sft with a access easement covering a portion of the southwest corner. This created a situation where the building footprint covered the majority of the yard, so it was essential to capture outdoor space on the structure. This led to the reverse floorplan (living on the third level), allowing the main spaces to easily access outdoor space, light and view. The homeowners created a welcoming contrast by their choices in furniture and wall coverings. To maintain a visual connection to the street we designed the stair to the main living level to be transparent so you can see and feel the activity. The upper level opens to a West facing deck and exterior stair leading to a view roofdeck which overlooks Ballard and the Puget Sound.



Architect: Dave Biddle / Chris Pardo Design (ex. pb Elemental)
Size: 2510 sq. ft.
Contractor: Logan’s Hammer (aka Fairbank Construction)
Landscaping: Kim Rooney Inc.
Photography: © Mel Curtis