Grand Avenue Residence
Nancy Josephson and Stephen Day, through their firm Madrona Architecture PLLC, designed their own home on Grand Avenue, located above Lake Washington in Seattle's historic Madrona neighborhood. The site was a sloped vacant lot, borderd on each side by two historic craftsman houses that for over 40 years had been homes for two sisters - one sister for each house. Between them sat the vacant lot, with a footpath across it, wildly overgrown with shrubs. Nancy and Stephen first restored one of the historic homes on the neighboring lot and retained the vacant lot for a new home for themselves. History and memory became recurring themes in the design of the house: memory of the site, of Madrona, of the City and beyond. The home is sited so that it maintains the old footpath between the sisters homes, providing a small scale link between neighbors. The home also explores other historical and spatial links. The underlying house parcel was laid out in the late nineteenth century. Its main east-west boundaries strictly follow the compass-oriented plats based on the geometry of the military fort and surrounding streets in what is now Pioneer Square. The grid of the hosue follows these cardinal directions: walls and windows face due east, west, north or south. So there is a very direct link to the sun and the seasons, the equinox and solstice. A contrasting diagonal grid line is introduced through the geometry of the open four-story staircase - a diagonal that precisely follows the main Downtown Seattle street grid located north of Yesler Way - when one walks the stair one also walks in the geometry of the urban center, located two miles away. This home has been featured in the Seattle Times Pacific Magazine in the quarterly series "Architects at Home" in an article written by Dean Stahl, with photography by Benjamin Benschneider, titled "Past Forward: Alluding to history and memory, a modern home honors its place."