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Capture the view, create openness.

It was a challenge on this tight sight

YOU CLIMB TO A dramatic climax in this row house on a steep, tight, 25- by 114-foot city lot. Steel stairs lead from the street entrance past successively more open levels to the main living and dining area, with its curving aluminum bay window framing the San Francisco skyline.

The challenge for architect Michael Harris, who designed the house for his family, was not just to capture that view, but also to create a feeling of openness within a boxlike building where the two side walls could have no windows.

His solution was to treat the house as a series of overlapping split levels organized around a central glass-roofed stair tower that could also function as a light court. The stairway simulates a hillside climb by leading you from overlook to overlook to the top of the site, where the best vista lies.

The split-level idea is most dramatic at the top of the house, where kitchen and dining room overlook the living room and share the view through the bay window. Contributing to the airy feeling is an unobstructed view past the stairway to the rear garden. The last stage of the upward climb brings you to a roof deck.
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Title Annotation:row house design
Author:Gregory, Daniel
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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