One of our favorite projects from last weekend’s AIA Homes Tours was the Randall House in Glen Park, by LSarc design team. The site, typical of San Francisco contours, slopes nearly four stories from front to back making the rear lower floors a challenge to daylight. The architects did a stunning job of working with this difficult site while reusing existing construction materials, incorporating FSC certified timber, and creating a healthy interior environment through the use of sustainable materials.

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Working with the home’s challenging site, LSarc excavated into the hillside and terraced the rear yard down to meet the lowest level, while connecting the stacked floors with the outdoors. Much of the original footings were maintained and reused, which proved economic as well as challenging for the site to deal with internal drainage.

The client’s allergen sensitivity and the architects’ own health-conscious design ethics led them to seek out the most environmentally responsible materials and methods of construction. The new concrete foundation walls have 35% fly ash content and all of the framing timber is FSC Certified. The interior wood floors are engineered camuro and built-in cabinetry is made from a dark stained oak to match the exotic wood aesthetic without impacting exotic wood forests.


Perhaps the most dramatic feature of the home is the internal four story light shaft, which also houses the stair and provides natural ventilation via the ‘chimney effect’. A continuous structural metal ribbon floats the stair up through the shaft and further connects all four floor plates of this vertically oriented home.

The living area is graced with spectacular views of the City, while the kitchen and dining areas are connected to the rear gardens, both edible and sanctuary, by a bridge spanning over the terraced green spaces below.

One of the design team’s main objectives with this home was to facilitate a healthy lifestyle, which is craftily achieved through the orientation of the spaces and proximity to the outdoors and natural daylight. Conceivably, one could live, work, eat, and sleep at this home without feeling the pressing need to leave for sustenance.

+ LSarc

+ AIA Architecture and the City Festival 2009

Garden photo by WILLIAM G. SUGUITAN, all other photos by Ken Gutmaker