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particularly sensitive to place,” says Warren. “We knew he would be able to understand the demands of the site, and what to embrace about the climate and views. We also knew he’d be sensitive to the neighborhood, as we didn’t want to destroy our neighbors’ views.” The demands of the site were extensive. Warren and Jackson had enlisted the help of a local architecture firm to scour the area for a potential tract of land, at last settling on a 65-ft by 100-ft vacant lot with a long list of challenges. The property was completely overgrown with brush, difficult to access, and steep. Along with the rest of Port Townsend, it was located in a

“When you get contractors who are also carpenters, you’re steps ahead, but when you have people who have built boats, you’re way beyond that.” seismic zone. Peter Bates and Aaron McGregor, who worked for the local firm, took on the task of clearing out some of the brush. They discovered four mature fir trees as well as the potential for sightlines to the water and Mt. Rainier from the site. By the time they finished this part of the project, their local employer’s firm had folded, and Bates and McGregor started their own construction company, Good Homes Construction. Both men had boat-building backgrounds. Bates had even graduated from wooden-boat-building school and

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5/6 2014

had worked as a yacht rigger for five years. They brought a unique sensibility and knowledge of craftsmanship to residential construction. Shipley visited the site and immediately recognized the project’s potential. The opportunity to work with Bates and McGregor was definitely not lost on the Dallas architect. “When you get contractors who are also carpenters, you’re steps ahead, but when you have people who have built boats, you’re way beyond that,” says Shipley. “I kept throwing these guys my best pitches, and they just kept knocking them back.” Boat-building is in the DNA of Port Townsend, and more than a little of the craft went into this 2,900-sf house. According to Shipley, the design was vessel-like to begin with, with the unassuming shingled facade taking its place in scale among the houses on the street. The back of the house was also scaled to the surrounding environment, with windows framing views of water or land. There was wood everywhere, including a gangway-like ramp up to the front door. Nestled among the four fir trees, the house is a U shape built into the slope, with an L-shaped basement wall that provides the shear resistance for the street-side facade. To address the slope and seismic issues, the foundation consists of concrete stem walls bearing onto spread footings dug into the hillside. Stone was brought in from Montana for three fireplaces, which also provide structural support. “The chimney mass — the fireplaces and chimneys extend up through it — is actually a cantilevered column of reinforced concrete block

Texas Architect May/June 2014: Water  

Exceptional craft and a relationship with water characterize all of the projects in this issue. Water is a scarce commodity in Texas, and wi...

Texas Architect May/June 2014: Water  

Exceptional craft and a relationship with water characterize all of the projects in this issue. Water is a scarce commodity in Texas, and wi...