On September 15th, 2011, we were featured at the “Modernizing Your Space” series at Design Within Reach during San Francisco’s Architecture in the City Month. We took the opportunity to clarify what we do and value in modern design.

Frequently our clients come to us with cramped, compartmentalized homes and formal rooms with poor interior and exterior connections inhibiting casual living.  Breakthroughs in modern residential design in the mid-century were sensitive to goals of personal comfort and connections to the environment, but they were insensitive to the environment at a community and global level with sprawling development, freeways and parking  lots actively replacing positive neighborhood and urban pattern.  These goals– casual comfort and easy interior and exterior connections–remain worthwhile to pursue, even  while we shift away from patterns promoting oil dependency to patterns supporting global responsibility and sustainability.

Our office takes on the challenge of bringing casual living and sunshine to urban living within a sustainable culture. When we modernize, we open homes to an easy flow of space and functions, opening the home to light, air, garden and views.

In this example, connections to light and views are not always horizontal.  Here, within a 25′ wide San Francisco lot width with zero lot line construction, connections to light and air are challenging.  Large skylights  and setback windows provide some solutions.

Once upstairs this penthouse master bedroom addition overlaps functions and eliminates doors and trim to provide a casual and nuanced arrangement of spaces, maximizing the flow of light and view while economizing on space.  Controlled views and  sunlight provide protected connections to our local environment.  These changes are transformative at a fundamental level and not particularly expensive as the materials (light, views, the outdoors and a relaxed attitude) are readily at hand if we open our homes to them.

Principal and Owner of James Hill Architect specializing in residential architecture and interior design in San Francisco, California and the Pacific Northwest. We like bikes, cities, landscapes and most any kind of structure that supports a free spirit. While we remain fascinated, we are disinclined towards structures that inhibit or control. We take photos of what interests us and then figure out why.
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