The Pierre | Olson Kundig Architects

The owner’s affection for a stone outcropping on her property and the views from its peak inspired the design of this house. Conceived as a bunker nestled in the rock, the Pierre (French for stone) celebrates the materiality of the site. From certain angles, the house—with its rough materials, encompassing stone, green roof, and surrounding foliage—almost completely disappears into nature.

With the exception of a separate guest suite, the house functions on one main level, with an open plan kitchen and dining and living space. Two large bookcases open to provide concealed access to laundry and kitchen storage. A large pivoting steel and glass door opens for access to an outdoor terrace. Set at a right angle to the main spaces, the master suite features a custom-designed bed with a leather headboard and footboard set in the middle of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The sink in the master bathroom is composed in water cascading through three polished pools in the existing stone.

Throughout the house, the rock extrudes into the space, contrasting with the textures of the furnishings. Interior and exterior fireplace hearths are carved out of existing stone; leveled on top, they are otherwise left raw.

To set the house deep into the site, portions of the rock outcropping were excavated using a combination of machine work and handwork. Excavated rock was reused as crushed aggregate in the concrete flooring and in a boulder wall in the carport. This reuse eliminated significant costs in having to haul waste from the site. A green roof added a pervious surface to an area where there was none previously; this slows down storm water run-off through absorption and evaporation.

Additional Credit

  • Engineer - Civil: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
  • Engineer - Geotechnical: Associated Earth Sciences
  • Engineer - Structural: MCE Structural Consultants
  • General Contractor: Schuchart/ Dow

Photo Credit

© Dwight Eschliman; Benjamin Benschneider

The Pierre

Jury Comments

There is a seamlessness between the natural environment and the interior of this project. It is unique.

The architecture is anchored into the site. The materiality of the concrete perfectly complements the landscape in a way you wouldn’t normally anticipate.

It makes you ponder the perception of concrete as constructed rock. The industrial detailing is unexpected and works so well.

2014 Institute Honor Awards for Interior Architecture Jury

  • David Montalba, AIA, Chair
  • Montalba Architects, Inc.
  • Santa Monica, California
  • Casey Jones, Deputy Director
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Mary Morissette, AIA
  • 4M Design
  • Denver
  • Robert H. Quigley, AIA
  • Architectural Resources Cambridge
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Josh Shelton, AIA
  • El Dorado Inc
  • Kansas City, Missouri

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