The topography of the site for Bluff House was a rift cut into the hillside, which inspired the design concept of an ascent up a narrow canyon path. The climb from the street to the front door includes three flights of stairs that are made up of individually precast stair treads in concrete with deep undercuts to accentuate their stacked layers. The concrete walls that flank the stairs are replete with homage details to Italian architect Carlos Scarpa. The cantilevered den to the left of the entry extends nearly 20′ over the patio of the family and exercise room. This projection reinforces the idea of canyons and overhanging cliffs as vantage points of the sweeping bay views.

Two main wings comprise a “T” floor plan; the first includes a two-story family living wing with office, children’s rooms and baths, and Master bedroom suite. The second wing features the living room, media room, kitchen and dining space that open to a rewarding 180-degree panorama of the San Francisco Bay, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and Belvedere Island. Featured alongside the living room’s deck is a tiered 24″ planting “moat” that meets the code requirement of a safety barrier from the 14′ drop over the driveway below. The vistas towards the Bay and hills across the valley are unobstructed by any interference of a guard rail or glass barrier.

Occasional high winds and blustery, moist Bay conditions are present at this site. With weather in mind, we designed a well-protected, outdoor living and entertainment space with ping pong table and firepit in the narrow, rear yard. The breakfast nook right off the kitchen extends into this space and connects indoor seating with outdoor ambiance.

Most of the kitchen, bathroom, and powder room sinks and countertops are specialty concrete, custom designed and fabricated by our firm. All the cast concrete walls were cast with custom designed forms designed and fabricated in our workshop.


Project Scope: A steep approach, a small footprint, a big client wish list, vigilant neighbors and tight city planning guidelines—each influenced the design of this new home. We wanted to chart a coherent strategy from these competing interests and meet our criteria for timeless, modern architectural design.

Location: Tiburon, CA