“Working with challenging sites, whether they are spectacular vacation properties or urban, makes us respond in a unique way,” Cobb says. “One of the most difficult things for us to deal with now would be a huge, easy site with no tooth. That, for us, would require a very different way of tackling the beast, where it's not about the logic of a structural solution.”
While custom homes will always be at the core of Cobb's nine-person practice, he has recently added multifamily to the mix. On the boards is the 12-unit West Newton Residential, where tall precast concrete walls organize the site and provide the structure, insulation, fire protection, and interior finish in one powerful move. Construction has just concluded on BonV, three townhouses on concrete pilings sunk 50 feet into a steep hillside. Stout concrete floors transfer the lateral loads to the foundation, eliminating the need for steel moment frames and allowing for larger expanses of glass.
Eric Stelter, president of Seattle-based Flip Builders, which developed both projects, was so impressed that he commissioned Cobb to design his own home. “Here in Seattle we have a lot of architects who draw neat stuff but are hard to work with,” he says. “Eric is passionate, smart, and rigorous and has the ability to not just draw something, but to get people excited. It makes working with him a lot of fun.”