The home of Alan Maskin, principal and owner of Olson Kundig, this project reflects Maskin’s longstanding interest in the various uses of history. The project includes an 1,100-square-foot renovation and building addition to the original 1930s cabin, interior design and landscape design, as well as an art and custom furniture collection. Maskin’s design intervention delineates the house’s two different eras: the 1930s and today.
TYPE: Residential › Private House
SIZE: 1000 sqft – 3000 sqft
PHOTOS: Aaron Leitz, Kevin Scott / Olson Kundig
Originally, the one-story cabin had low ceiling heights and an attic. The interior walls and ceilings were clad with wide planks of Douglas fir, which would have been plentiful in the area 100 years ago. For Maskin, this was one of the best qualities of the original house – throughout construction, he had a “what comes down must go up” policy for the original wood panels. Each panel taken down for an alteration was repurposed in the new additions, becoming cabinets, new ceilings and storage areas. Throughout the design, Maskin worked to make the different construction periods legible. Modern additions are demarcated with different wood types from the original planks, making it clear to see what was “then” and what is “now.”
“My work life and love life were separated by Elliott Bay and a 3-hour commute. So, I was looking for a small, extremely inexpensive fixer-upper. In my dreams, I wanted it to be a small cabin with a view of the water – hopefully with some character – and located somewhere in the middle of my two primary destinations. I heard there was a house that might go up for sale, so I went to see it. It was a 1930s beach cabin in pretty rough shape, but it had nicely proportioned – and completely inefficient – single pane windows and a stained wood interior. When I climbed onto the roof, I realized there would be a nice view of Agate Passage if I built a second-floor addition.” – Alan Maskin.
Even though the house needed a large amount of work, for Maskin it was a dream project. He removed the low ceiling in the living room and turned the former attic space into a cathedral ceiling 17 feet tall at the gable. New foundations were added where none existed previously, and seismic upgrades were made. Maskin essentially added a second story to the house – a new stairway with orange plexiglass risers leads to a large bedroom. Here, floor-to-ceiling glass windows give expansive views of the water and Agate Pass. A small second floor terrace was added atop the original screened-in porch, which Maskin converted to a dining room and office. These rooms have views of two gardens that Maskin designed, including one with hardy plants inspired by visits to tropical areas.
Maskin also designed most of the built-in furniture and cabinets. There are several custom-designed pieces, all made of glulam plywood as the main material, including a daybed in the living room, an armoire, and a bed with built-in storage underneath.
Agate Pass Cabin features works by Scott Fife, Sutton/Beres/Culler, Leiv Fagereng, Karen Rudd, Rebecca (Raven) Lucan, Chris Crites, David Eisenhour, Mary Larson and Klara Glosova amongst others.
Design Principal: Alan Maskin
Project Architect: John Kennedy
Project Architect: Hill Pierce
Interior Design: Alan Maskin / Olson Kundig
Hardscapes: Alan Maskin
Plants: Duane West and Brian McLaughlin
General Contractor: Krekow Jennings
Photographers: Kevin Scott / Olson Kundig and Aaron Leitz