U.S. Building of the Week

Stack House

FreelandBuck
20. May 2019
Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography

In the aptly named Stack House, four floors of boxes are stacked atop each other to follow the steep slope of a hill. Angled boxes express the different rooms and form a number of terraces. FreelandBuck answered a few questions about the project.

Project: Stack House, 2018
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Client: FBuild 
Architect: FreelandBuck, Los Angeles
Design Principal: David Freeland & Brennan Buck 
Project Team: Belinda Lee, Gary Dominguez
Structural Engineer: Marco Ibarra 
Contractor: Urbanite Homes 
Site Area: 8,410 sf 
Building Area: 2,240 sf
Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?

This house was developed by the architect (FreelanBuck) and contractor (Urbanite Homes) as a joint commission.

Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
Please provide an overview of the project.

Stack House is a newly built 2,207-square-foot residence designed and developed by award-winning LA and NY-based architecture office FreelandBuck. Comprised of four stories notched into a sloping hillside, this vertical house uses the subtle rotation of each room to create seamless indoor-outdoor spaces at every floor, each with unique and unobstructed views to the San Gabriel mountains. Working with difficult site constraints is central to the design of this house; unlike conventional hillside homes that appear to have been placed atop the slope, this house is embedded into it, creating a much closer relationship to the landscape.

Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?

The primary living spaces at the third level (dining, kitchen, living, den) are organized into a simple grid of four rooms. The walls of each room curve at the center in a series of tangent arcs that blend the individual spaces while carefully opening views through the house. A central stair connects the living spaces to a rear dining patio and yard that overlook the house and mountains beyond. The upper fourth level features three bedrooms, with the master and en suite bathroom organized across the front of the house. A private two-car garage or workspace makes up the ground floor.

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is incorporated into the stack at the second level between the garage and the upper levels. ADU’s are typically built adjacent to existing houses; in this case the ADU is uniquely integrated into the massing of the house.

Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
How did the project change between the initial design stage and the completion of the building?

The project had an extended design period during a difficult approvals process, so it was completed per the design.

Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?

The exterior cladding of the house is custom-made, a play on board-and-batten siding organized into patterns that suggest varied depth and texture. Painted in subtle gradiations from white to gray, the striped shadows of the board-and-battens shift throughout the day. Interior features include French oak flooring in a natural finish and marble countertops. The folding effect of the large accordion doors extend the interior spaces to the outside, allowing for the iconic views unique to Los Angeles hillside living.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
Photo: Eric Staudenmaier Photography
Floor Plans (Drawing: FreelandBuck)
Axonometric (Drawing: FreelandBuck)
Corner Elevations (Drawing: FreelandBuck)

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