Box on the Rock Sonoma, CA The constricted footprint of the affectionately-named “Box on the Rock” is a response to a limited budget and a difficult site; shallow underground waterways run across the hillside, daylighting in unexpected and unwanted locations. This unreliable terrain necessitated relatively expensive pier footings, thus motivating an extremely compact and efficient 2,000 sq ft footprint. Given no initial resources to develop the wild scrub and rock landscape of the 3-acre property, the home becomes a lone outpost settling the higher ground of the larger natural site – a box on the rock.

Subjected to the extremes of the wine country microclimate on the exposed site, the central courtyard and the cantilevered deck are strategically carved out of the diagrammatic box to ensure that over the course of the day, temperate options for both sun and shade are always available. In particular, the geometry of the overhang at the front cantilevered deck and the inward angle of its exterior glass walls are carefully calibrated to capture morning sun and winter warming while shielding the internal space from the harshest summer glare. Later in the day, the central courtyard comes alive as the sunniest developed outdoor space, yet one that is naturally cooled by capturing the valley cross breezes.
Awards
  • Builder's Choice Custom Home Design Awards
    Merit Award | Custom Home under 5,000 sq ft, 2015
  • AIA Redwood Empire Design Awards
    People’s Choice Award | Unbuilt Architecture, 2015

Press
  • Dezeen, August 2016
  • The Press Democrat, April 2016
  • San Francisco Cottages & Gardens, February 2016
  • Arch Daily, February 2016
  • Wallpaper*, September 2015
  • Wallpaper*, August 2015
Project Credits
  • SaA Project Team
    Wyatt Arnold, Erik Bloom
  • Structural Engineer
    iAssociate
  • Contractor
    Eames Construction, Inc.
  • Photography
    Bruce Damonte
Shou Sugi Ban House Los Gatos, CA Enlarging an existing home that has an already strong and complete architectural character can be challenging. Here, we anchor the existing one-story home with a new two-story independent volume, using it both as punctuation mark and counterpoint to the existing composition.

This project, which also involved extensive remodeling of the existing modern residence located high above Silicon Valley, was inspired by dominant images and textures from the site: boulders, bark, and leaves. We clad the addition in traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban burnt cedar siding both to anchor home with site and to create the visual weight necessary to anchor the existing exuberantly-roofed horizontal building.

The original home was a joint venture between Min | Day as Design Architect and Burks Toma Architects as Architect of Record and was substantially completed in 1999. In 2005, Min | Day added the swimming pool and related outdoor spaces. Schwartz and Architecture began work on the addition and substantial remodel of the interior in 2009, completed in 2015.
Awards
  • Remodeling Design Awards, Merit Award | Bathroom, 2016

  • Press
  • Design Milk, May 2016
  • Contemporist, February 2016
  • San Francisco Magazine, January 2016
  • San Francisco Magazine, October 2015
  • Residential Architect, August 2015
Project Credits
  • SaA Team
    Wyatt Arnold, Paul Burgin, Aaron Goldman, Neil O'Shea, Joshua Yoches
  • Contractor
    MD Construction
  • Structural Engineer
    iAssociate
  • Photography
    Matthew Millman Photography
  • Original Architects
    Min | Day (Design Architect), Burks Toma Architects (Architect of Record)
  • Shou Sugi Ban Manufacturer
    Delta Millworks Inc
Overlook Guest House Los Gatos, CA Overlook: to fail to notice
Overlook: a commanding position or view
Overlook: to care for

Despite an extremely steep, almost undevelopable, densely wooded site, the Overlook House creates a new accessible indoor/outdoor second dwelling that allows an aging family member to remain close by the main residence and independently at home. To maintain ease of access, the new diminutive 775 sq ft home incorporates the driveway approach and garage into a formalized entry sequence, transitioning fluidly to a cantilevered breezeway at the front door framing spectacular views across Silicon Valley.

Given the site’s dramatic slope, this entry terrace serves double duty as the only viable outdoor open space for the home. A large oval oculus cut out of this covered zone marks the entry as well as the path of the sun over the course of the day – a kind of ever-changing sun dial for a resident with limited activities and mobility.

From the pre-existing main house above on this property, this residence is easy to miss; its broad roof creates a simple, new horizon line through the trees without interrupting the valley views. The plan is simple – on one side a single living space modulated into distinct zones with built-in cabinetry, on the other, en-suite bedrooms connected by a large accessible bath and laundry – perfect for a resident and a caregiver.

Awards
Press
Project Credits
  • SaA Project Team
    Wyatt Arnold, Paul Burgin, Aaron Goldman, Neil O'Shea, Joshua Yoches
  • Contractor
    MD Construction
  • Structural Engineer
    iAssociate
  • Photography
    Matthew Millman Photography
Lichen House Glen Ellen, CA The Lichen House nestles within the fog and oaks in the hills above California’s Sonoma Valley. The free-ranging branches of the site’s mature live and coastal oak trees support veils of draping Ramalina Lichen that filter sunlight, capture moisture and nutrients for their hosts, and remove pollutants from the air through photosynthesis. A hypersensitive organism, lichen retreats or dies in adverse or contaminated environments but quickly expands its net with conditions advantageous for growth. It is a bellwether for the environmental health of this unique microclimate.

This precise relationship between lichen and host provides inspiration for an architecture specifically tailored to its site – both as a response to it and as an augmentation of its best attributes. The Lichen House works in concert with nature’s mechanisms, not to mimic them blindly, but to expand our understanding and experience of them through architecture.

Lichens grow and spread to produce their own food using sunlight – they do not feed on or harm the trees they inhabit. They establish an ethos for design inspiring symbiotic, rather than dominant, relationships between built and unbuilt worlds – one that mirrors the gesture and fluidity of movement in the architecture.
Press
  • San Francisco Cottages & Gardens, 2015
Project Credits
  • SaA Project Team
    Wyatt Arnold, Christopher Baile, Erik Bloom, Laura Huylebroek
  • Landscape Design
    Surface Design
  • Lighting Design
    Pritchard Peck Lighting
  • Structural Engineer
    iAssociate
  • Contractor
    Eames Construction
  • Images
    SaA Ministerium of Presence
Boonville Cabin Kits Boonville, CA This 380 SF off-the-grid cabin prototype in Boonville, California is inspired by the logging camps of the original 19th century settlers. Driven by the need to haul logs along the path of least resistance in the hillside forests, the nomadic camps created unique communities in the woods with a mobile, flexible and economical approach to building. The Boonville Cabin Kits are inspired by this ethos, though now promote light-on-the-land strategies for living in the forest.
Press
Project Credits
  • Architecture
    Neal Schwartz, Joshua Yoches, Christopher Baile
  • Structural Engineer
    ZFA Structural Engineers
  • Geotechnical Engineer
    Chandler Koehn Consulting
  • Civil Engineer
    Franz Engineering, Ron Franz PE
29th Street San Francisco, CA It is often difficult to create a sense of openness and continuity in multi-level urban homes. By allowing the staircases of this three-story structure the freedom to shift location on each level – defining a continuous flow of space and movement – we turn this challenge on its head, elevating the stairwell into the key architectural and unifying feature of the home.

In this four-level project, a series of stairwells take you from the lower garden level to the uppermost roof deck, each treated as a sculptural object and with the interior stairs uniformly clad in rift-cut white oak. On each level we permitted the stair to find its own best location, as a vertical path that meanders through the home in a way that is more landscape than urban. Although the living spaces are often compressed by the tight urban site, this meandering stairwell unites the home functionally, visually, and spatially, making it feel much larger than it really is.
Recognition
Project Credits
  • SaA Project Team
    Caterina Belardetti, Neil O'Shea, Joshua Yoches
  • Contractor
    Gelling and Judd Construction
  • Structural Engineer
    iAssociate
    • Photography
      Bruce Damonte
    Crook | Cup | Bow | Twist Nicasio, CA | 2012 Crook | Cup | Bow | Twist (categories of lumber deformation) refers to the latent potential energy of all natural systems towards movement.

    SaA’s design response first analyzes the site as a series of existing flows or “routes” across the landscape, catalogued into three types: Topographic Routes of terrain, water, and vegetation; Constructed Routes of trails, bridges, and boardwalks; and Diurnal Routes of sun path, thermal exchange and human occupation.

    Conceptually, the new buildings become the knot at the center of these routes, drawing strands of movement in, engaging them with others, and releasing them back out again. On the most basic level, the architectural aim is to propel the occupants out of the confines of the home and back out into the “un-tamed” landscape beyond. The home becomes a base camp for exploration, continuously provoking a relationship to the great outdoors and inspiring a sense of wanderlust.
    Awards
    • Honorable Mention | Powder Room
      Residential Architect Design Awards, 2015
      Continue Reading »
    • Merit Award | Residential Architecture
      American Institute of Architects California Council, 2014
      Continue Reading »
    • Grand Award | Powder Room
      Watermark Awards, 2014
      Continue Reading »
    • Design Award | Architectural Detail
      Builder's Choice and Custom Home Design, 2014
    • Merit Award | Custom Kitchen
      Watermark Awards, 2014
    • Honor Award | Unbuilt Architecture
      American Institute of Architects San Francisco, 2010
    • Honorable Mention | Faculty Design Award
      Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 2010
    • American Architecture Award | Shortlisted
      The Chicago Athenaeum, 2010
    • Design Award | Unbuilt Architecture
      Boston Society of Architects, 2009

    Other Recognition
    • Marin Living Home Tours
      American Institute of Architects, June 2015
      Continue Reading »
    • Crafting Architecture Exhibition
      Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, 2010

    Press
    Project Credits
    • SaA Project Team
      Wyatt Arnold, Erik Bloom, Paul Burgin, Aaron Goldman
    • Landscape Design
      Randy Theume Design
    • Lighting Design
      H.E. Banks + Associates
    • Contractor
      Hammond and Company
    • Energy + Sustainability
      Loisos + Ubbelodhe
    • Structural Engineer
      David Inlow, iAssociate
    • Mosaic Designer
      Karen Thompson, Archetile Mosaics
    • Photography
      Bruce Damonte
    • Construction Photography
      Eddy Joaquim
    Hydeaway House Sonoma, CA The design of this new 1,900 sq ft home adjacent to a working vineyard in Sonoma, CA begins with a simple, one-story rectangular “box” floor plan, not unlike any number of recent prototypes for low cost, sustainable single-family homes. Yet while these new designs have been successful in many regards, they are typically less flexible in their ability to respond with nuance to their sites and particular environmental conditions.

    This project embraces the notion of an economy of means, but argues that within this economy, there is still great potential to customize the relationship of a home to its site. In fact, it is this ability that is one of the prime determinates of sustainable choices for building orientation, thermal heat gain and loss, and passive cooling strategies to name a few.

    Here, the shape of the house begins to physically morph with the push and pull of the surrounding environment. The simple box folds in two to embrace the open 1-acre site. Walls skew under the rectangular roof to focus on near and distant views. This then creates the tapering roof overhangs that strategically protect the private spaces from the harshest of the summer sun.

    In the end, the design retains the benefits of a simple plan with streamlined construction, and the economical and sustainable use of materials. Yet with just a few subtle shifts in the plan, we create a home engaged with its surroundings and far more able to take advantage of the best its site has to offer – qualities often lacking in the simple box. Stay Here »
    Awards
    • Custom Home Watermark Awards, Merit Award | Custom Kitchen, 2014
    • AIA California Council Residential Design Awards, Merit Award, 2013

    Press
    • Sonoma Home & Garden Fall, 2014
    • California Home & Design June, 2014
    • New York Times September, 2013
    • Remodelista March, 2013
    Project Credits
    • SaA Project Team
      Wyatt Arnold, Erik Bloom, Paul Burgin
    • Lighting Design
      Pritchard Peck Lighting
    • Structural Engineer
      iAssociates
    • Contractor
      Eames Construction, Inc.
    • Photography
      Matthew Millman Photography.


    Plum Ranch Retreat Santa Rosa, CA This expansive 60 acre site in the hills of Santa Rosa is currently undergoing a series of upgrades. A farmhouse, main house, barn, observation tower, and zip-line are included in the master plan. Stay tuned for updates!
     
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    Sonoma Pool House Sonoma, CA This 365 sq. ft. wine country pool house is carefully calibrated to anchor the landscape yet tread lightly upon it. A few simple moves create a sculptural object in the garden that captures shadows in subtly changing ways over the course of the day.

    The interior is kept spare – a sleeping area oriented toward the pool anchors the plan, with a simple wall of glowing translucent glass mitigating the dual needs for light and privacy. The efficient plan places a small bar, kitchenette, and bathroom vanity at the pass-through hall leading from garden to pool. Thin rectilinear shading fins set off the geometry of the folly, offering respite from the summer sun and framing views in both directions.

    The architectural interest here is in precisely calibrating the most elemental components for an environmentally sensitive architecture based on light, view, movement, scale and orientation.
    Press
    • Gardenista, March 2013
    Project Credits
    • SaA Project Team
      Wyatt Arnold
    • Landscape Design
      Surface Design
    • Lighting Design
      Pritchard Peck Lighting
    • Structural Engineer
      iAssociate
    • Contractor
      Eames Construction, Inc.
    • Photography
      Matthew Millman Photography
    Castenada Residence San Francisco, CA This full remodel of a 3,200 sq ft home in San Francisco’s Forest Hills neighborhood worked within the home’s existing split level organization, but radically expanded the sense of openness and movement through the space. The jewel of the new top floor master suite is a minimalist bathroom surrounded by glass and filled with light. The most private space becomes the most prominent element from the street below.
     
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    Contractor
    • Gleason & Tankard

    Photography
    • Aaron Leitz



    Eagle Rock Residence Mill Valley, CA We are under construction! Come back soon to see the progress.
     
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    Contractor
    • MJH Construction Management

    Photography
    • SaA



    Rutledge Street Residence San Francisco, CA With little to work with but the potential for wonderful light and views, we have given this 1950's Bernal Heights residence an expansive feel that belies its limited square footage. Key to our design is a new staircase (strategically placed to accommodate a future third floor addition), which transforms the entryway and upper level. We collaborated with Andre Caradec of S/U/M Architecture on the design and fabrication of the unique guardrail. The pattern is the result of many considerations: a desire for the perforations to modulate relative to eye level while ascending and descending the stair, the need for a lightweight and self-supporting structure, and, as always, the complex dynamic between design intent, constructibility and cost.
     
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    Photography
    • Matthew Millman

    Contractor
    • building Lab inc.



    Nineteenth Street Residence San Francisco, CA The owner’s buoyant personality, own design work and extensive art collection inspire the renovation and addition to this Potrero Hill home. Here, we worked specifically to “curate” the natural light — using it to draw people up and through the space, to focus attention on the collection of art objects, and to propel them back out to panoramic views of the city beyond. As in all of our work, we were strategic in the use of resources, maintaining the original character of the front of the home, while subtly coaxing more character out of materials, such as simple exterior siding, at the rear.
    Awards and Publications
    • "Growing Room", Residential Building Magazine, Project of the Month, April 2013
    • "A Stepped Up Remodel", San Francisco Chronicle, February 2012
    Contractor
    • Forsythe Construction

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Buena Vista Residence San Francisco, CA Typical of many San Francisco Victorians, this home's kitchen had evolved out of an enclosed porch and rear-yard service space. It was undersized and isolated from the life of the current house. Our work updates this ad hoc space, bringing it into the natural flow of the rest of the structure, and creating a stronger, more modern relationship to the rear yard. The centerpiece of the new light-filled space is a custom island / drop-leaf table that converts from a casual family dining area to an ample workspace for the children's art projects, or seating for twelve. Open shelving and a series of custom ledges for the family's seasonal canning efforts intensify the casual, working feel to the kitchen, which is admittedly modern, yet somehow appropriate to the essence of the home.
    Awards and Publications
    • Dwell Magazine, 100 Kitchens We Love, May 2011
    • 7x7 Magazine, October 2009
    • Residential Architect, June 2009
    • San Francisco Chronicle, February 2009


    Contractor
    • Gillespie Construction

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Caselli Avenue Residence San Francisco, CA The inspiration for the remodel of this San Francisco Victorian came from an unlikely source – the owner's modern-day cabinet of curiosities, brimming with jars filled with preserved aquatic body-parts and specimens. Through a series of relatively subtle moves, this room now becomes the heart of the home, with glimpses into the remarkable collection a constant presence from every space. A partially translucent glass wall and shelving system protects the collection and divides the owner's study from the adjacent family room. The pattern on the glass (derived from the genetic code of a harbor seal) allows the owner and his specimens to peek out from the office – and allows his young children an occasional peek in.
    Awards and Publications
    • Home Tours, American Institute of Architects San Francisco, 2010

    California Home + Design, March 2009
    • San Francisco Chronicle, February 2009


    Contractor
    • Gelling & Judd Inc.

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Presidio Residence San Francisco, CA The kitchen and powder room of this extensively remodeled home were somehow always left behind, relics of a different –and unflattering—era. Our work seamlessly updates these spaces and integrates them into the modern, clean aesthetic of the rest of the home. Since the owners are enthusiastic art collectors, the galley kitchen is designed with large expanses of open walls, as a gallery waiting to be curated.
     
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    Contractor
    • Alderson Construction

    Photography
    • Eddy Joaquim



    Wisconsin Street Residence San Francisco, CA This project challenges the traditional idea of context in one of San Francisco's most rapidly evolving neighborhoods. The form of the addition takes its cues from the varied streetscape and brings the existing structure into a stronger compositional dialogue with its neighbors. The new story is set back from the street, balancing its scale and proportion with the lower floors. The intimate spaces of the original home are preserved but open up dramatically when ascending the new stair to the master bedroom suite.
    Awards and Publications
    • Achievement Award in Architecture, California Home + Design, 2008
    • Dwell Magazine, April 2007
    • Kitchen Style & Bath, November 2006
    • Home Tours, American Institute of Architects San Francisco, 2005



    Contractor
    • Mark Gillispie

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Ross Circle Residence Oakland, CA This project transforms a dark master bedroom suite in a California Mission-style home, combining the original bedroom, small bathroom and closets into a single, light-filled space. Once stripped to its exterior walls, we inserted a single freestanding cabinetry piece back into the center of the open space, which organizes movement around the room. This mahogany "box" creates a headboard for the bed on one side, anchors the vanity for the bath on the other, and conceals a walk-in closet and powder room inside. While the detailing is not traditional, we preserved the traditional feel of the home through a warm and rich material palette and the re-conception of the space as a garden room.
    Awards and Publications
    • Residential Architect, June 2009
    • San Francisco Chronicle, February 2009

     
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    Contractor
    • Laurence Construction

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Rhode Island Street Residence San Francisco, CA This house addition on a typical San Francisco lot doubles the size of the existing non-descript 1954 "Contractor's Special". Our strategy carves out a series of strongly contained, yet open, outdoor rooms that carefully balance between engaging the site's expansive urban views and maintaining a distinctly private domestic realm. The initial move is to carve a new small internal outdoor courtyard and entry out of one of the existing bedrooms, bringing light into the center of the new scheme. The rear façade and third floor roof decks build on this strategy of carving voids out of a solid mass—perhaps an apt image of the way many urbanites create their private homes within the density of the city.
    Awards and Publications
    • San Francisco Chronicle, February 2009
    • Kitchens: A Sunset Design Guide, 2008
    • California Home and Design, October 2007
    • Home Tours, American Institute of Architects San Francisco, 2007

     
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    Contractor (finish phase)
    • Gillespie Construction

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Dolores Street Residence San Francisco, CA This 7,000 square foot renovation and addition maintains the graciousness and carefully-proportioned spaces of the historic 1907 home. The new construction includes a kitchen and family living area, a master bedroom suite, and a fourth floor dormer expansion. The subtle palette of materials, extensive built-in cabinetry, and careful integration of modern detailing and design, together create a fresh interpretation of the original design.
    Awards and Publications
    • Kitchens: A Sunset Design Guide, 2008
    • Western Interiors, May 2007

     
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    Contractor
    • Mattarozzi and Pelsinger Construction

    Photography
    • Matthew Millman



    Martha Road Residence Orinda, CA The most noteworthy quality of this suburban home was its dramatic site overlooking a wide- open hillside. The interior spaces, however, did little to engage with this expansive view. Our project corrects these deficits, lifting the height of the space over the kitchen and dining rooms and lining the rear facade with a series of 9' high doors, opening to the deck and the hillside beyond.
     
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    Contractor
    • Laurence Construction

    Photography
    • SaA



    Recording Studio & Performance Space Occidentaly, CA Hired to design a state-of-the-art 2,100 sq ft private recording studio and performance space, we first negotiated the purchase and disassembly of a rural barn in upstate New York. The lumber was graded and coded in Texas and then shipped to our site in Occidental for a modern-day barn-raising deep within an old growth forest.

    While Redwood groves may be an ideal place to support a musician’s creative process, they are inherently difficult to build within. Disturbing the roots of a redwood can kill the entire tree, a problem compounded by their shallow and expansive subterranean growth. Negotiating such hyper-specific siting requirements involved intensive collaboration with both an arborist and a structural engineer, leading to the implementation of a strategic pier structure to float the barn above the ground and between the roots.

    Then our work really began, as every material choice and architectural detail was evaluated as part of a balancing act of reclamation, acoustical isolation, reverberant control, and ecological impact.
    Press
    Project Credits
    • SaA Project Team
      Wyatt Arnold, Neil O'Shea, Joshua Yoches
    • Acoustical Engineer
      Charles M Salter and Associates, Inc.
      • Lighting Design
        Pritchard Peck Lighting
      • Arborist
        Noonan's Tree Care
      • Structural Engineer
        Yu Structural Engineers
      • Contractor
        Fairweather and Associates
      • Photography
        Bruce Damonte


    Spur House Mendocino, CA During the Great Depression, a small group of unknown and unemployed WPA artists working out of an office in Berkeley, California produced a series of vibrant silk-screened posters promoting the escape to the wilderness of the national parks. Hovering between caricature and the picturesque, the fantasy images focused on the majesty of nature and wildlife, with architecture and its inhabitants distinctly minor players. Given the context of their creation, the images likely meant to be a mighty salve to the dreary realities of urban life in the 1930s. Our vision for the SPUR house is inspired by the idealism of this work and the hierarchy of value it proposes – the geysers, cliffs, wildlife and trees of nature dominate all.

    The SPUR house, a new 2,000 SF home on 20-acres in Mendocino, California finds its form in the subtle negotiation of the existing terrain of the densely wooded site. Each wing of the spur-shaped plan adjusts its angle and length to intensify the occupant’s relationship to far and near views, framed through unobstructed picture windows at each wing’s end. The spurs of the plan then create four distinct exterior spaces in between, modulating privacy and solar exposure over the course of the day. The form, scale and materials of the new home are designed to integrate with the existing site, keeping the focus on the very reason to build in such majestic terrain in the first place.
    Project Credits
    • Architecture
      Neal Schwartz, Joshua Yoches, Christopher Baile
    • Structural Engineer
      ZFA Structural Engineers
    • Geotechnical Engineer
      Chandler Koehn Consulting
    • Civil Engineer
      Franz Engineering, Ron Franz PE
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