Matching the Lay of the Land

Educated at the University of Washington when minimalist architecture was popular, Miles Yanick, architect of Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based Miles Yanick and Co., says this type of architecture is what inspires his designs. His attention is on creating designs that respond to their sites.

“I believe in using as little building materials as I can within reason to accomplish the needs of the project,” Yanick says. “Today it’s popular to load a building with all sorts of superfluous materials.”

When asked the style of this house located in Bainbridge Island, Wash., Yanick says it’s Northwest contemporary, a term he says he invented, adding that his company doesn’t emphasize styles. “We steer away from style although we run into it sometimes,” he says. “We let each project determine itself. The buildings we design take on a life of their own. If this was identified as a style, then I’d identify it as Northwest contemporary because it responds to Northwest environmental and climatic conditions.”

This design is similar to most of Yanick’s designs which focus on blending the house with its surroundings. He wanted to express the lightness of the building’s weight, and its openness inside. “We want a sense of blending with surrounding environments, whether it’s infill in an urban situation or a single structure in an open field,” he adds.

Site challenges

The major goal and challenge of the project was maintaining the strict budget of the young couple owners. “(The owners) said we have $250,000 and that’s it. This number had to cover sales tax, architect’s fee, building permit fee — absolutely everything,” Yanick says.

The owners did have an additional $90,000 to spend on the site, however. Yanick and the clients spent more than a year looking for the right site which ended up being one nobody wanted at the end of a dead-end road. “The site is only about 70 ft. wide and 1,000 ft. long. It includes a creek running through it, wetlands and is heavily timbered,” Yanick says.

To fit the house on a site with so many obstacles, Yanick located it in an east-west orientation. The majority of the house faces south and the long part of it stretches east and west. “Because of the topography and creek, it caused the house to splay a little bit making it appear spread out,” he adds.

The walk up to the house presents the strongest elements of style. Two roofs reach out to the forest and reveal the splayed portion of the house. “It’s called a shed roof which is the most economical roof shape that you can put on a building. It includes almost no joints requiring no additional labor or leaking. It’s one plane,” Yanick says.

Taking advantage of the view

The second goal of the design was to capture all the views surrounding the house. “It’s a dual benefit if you open the house with as much glass as you can. You allow the forest to come into the house,” Yanick says. The large amount of glass makes this a passive solar home, he adds.

There is no interior trim in the house and the windows aren’t framed. This was done for two reasons: money didn’t have to be spent on interior millwork; and it doesn’t bring attention to the windows. It looks like the house extends to the landscape, Yanick adds.

Traffic flow in the house reflects Yanick’s focus on lightness and openness. “It’s basically one space. You enter into a two-story space that has a stairway to the second floor and then the main floor is open. You can see the entire floor plan except the bathroom and utility room,” he says.

Green design

The house features many green characteristics. In addition to it being a passive solar house, all the metal in the house is 30 percent recycled. The main floor is stained concrete and all the concrete has fly ash in it. In addition, hydronic heating is in the concrete slabs, and green gypsum wall board and recycled paint were used. Green elements were a benefit, not the intention of this project, Yanick says.

Yanick is proud of the overall design. “I’m proud of the fact that we were able to design an elegant building for a modest budget. That has a lot to do with the client,” he says. “Good buildings don’t happen unless you have good clients."

Bainbridge Island, Wash.


Average annual revenue: $500,000
Residential new construction: 40 percent
Residential remodeling: 10 percent
Annual design/build projects: 10 percent
Industry memberships: NCARB, USGBC


Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Size: 1,400 sq. ft.
Total cost: $250,000

Windows: Vetter Windows & Doors
Roofing: Aep-Span
Siding: Roseburg Forest Products
Garage doors: Cloplay
Locksets & hardware: Schlage

Cabinets: Canyon Creek
Sinks: Kohler
Faucets: Grohe
Range: GE Appliances
Exhaust hood: GE Appliances
Ovens: GE Appliances
Refrigerators: Amana
Dishwashers: Miele

Cabinets: Canyon Creek
Tubs: Kohler
Toilets: Toto
Faucets: Grohe
Sinks: Kohler