new book: jim olson houses

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Other deadlines have kept me from fully devoting my attention to the copy of Jim Olson Houses (The Monacelli Press, $65) that's been sitting on my desk. Today I finally got a chance to delve into this gorgeous new book about the residential work of Jim Olson, FAIA, a principal and owner of Olson Kundig Architects in Seattle.

Olson is known for designing highly refined houses that often highlight world-class art collections. The book presents the projects in a similarly polished manner. Architecture writer Michael Webb's introduction touches on several interesting points, including Olson's love of small, cozy spaces, his longtime commitment to sustainability, and his skill at collaborating with landscape architects and interior designers. "Like the architects of the Arts and Crafts movement and the pioneer modernists...he strives to make his houses a seamless whole," Webb writes.   

Along with the usual mix of beautiful photography and useful floorplans, Monacelli incorporated rough hand drawings and handwritten notes that deepen the reader's understanding of Olson's personal design process. These tidbits are some of the best parts of the book, in my opinion--along with the houses themselves. My own favorite projects shown are the Olson Cabin, Bird Watchers' House, An American Place, and Ocean House.--m.d.



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