Considering the huge cost of building in the Bay Area, the
scale wasn’t what the architect had anticipated. Neil wanted
a lot more house than his indicated budget or county codes
would allow. However, he was not going for overblown
Tuscan villa or cliché French château, nor the handcrafted
wood-heavy homes favored in the Northwest. And so Zack’s
value-engineered, modern, compact rectilinear forms, with
crisp edges, white walls and exposed steel framing, prevailed.
“It was also what we like to design,” Zack says.
The infrastructure, especially the challenging driveway up
the steep property, took some time to figure out. While other
details were being fine-tuned, Neil and his wife managed to
visit the site frequently.
Envisioning future decks and vista points, “we’d get there
with a small cooler, camping chairs, a bottle of wine and
some cheese,” Neil says.
The two-story, 3,750-square-foot hilltop home that
evolved has a concrete basement and garage, dug into the
hill, that can be entered through a car court below.
Most of the exterior is clad with Cor-Ten steel panels
that will weather over time and continue to blend into the
hillside. A void cut into the west face forms a second-floor
loggia that is lined with cedar. Large roof overhangs, ideal for
shade over decks, are limited in number because evidently,
as recent wine country fires proved, “fire travels uphill and
overhangs become fire traps,” Zack explains.
Top: A large entry court for fire trucks to turn around leads to a
garage inset into the hillside. Stairs on the left side go up to the front
door. Left: The front door opens to a hallway leading to the back
door; it is flanked by a powder room on the left side, and by living
spaces, a study and master suite, all on the right. Opposite: The master suite opens directly to a lap pool that doubles as a fire hydrant.