Custom Home, 3,000 to 5,000 square feet / Merit Award
The laid-back demeanor of Sea Drift, a sleepy beach community just north of San Francisco, can be deceiving. Because of its precarious location atop the San Andreas Fault and along the rough Pacific Coast, each new house there works hard to satisfy a myriad of safety and building codes. FEMA regulations require homes to be lifted several feet off the ground in case of flooding; paradoxically, the local homeowners' association enforces a strict height limit. Foundations and framing must also meet strict earthquake standards.
But architect Rodney Friedman loves a challenge, and he certainly faced one in designing this home. Steel helix piers anchor it to a concrete slab foundation buried under the sand, while steel columns elevate the ground floor nine feet above the sand. Inside the house, Friedman didn't have much room to maneuver, considering the clients' need to accommodate four generations. “At Sea Drift you can't have a two-story house, so there was a 9- to 10-foot envelope between the floor and the roof to design in,” he says. “You can do pop-up roofs, so we did a barrel vault over the living and dining rooms and the study.” Keeping the home's oceanfront site in mind, he graced its wide-open public areas with subtle evocations of the seafaring life. Exposed, structural ceiling rods are made from stainless steel yacht rigging, and laminated cedar column covers resemble ships' masts. “I wanted the clients to feel like they were in an oceangoing schooner,” he says.