If there’s one thing Olson Kundig Architects is known for, it’s steel. In fact, Olson Kundig are pioneers in using steel framing for modern architecture.
The firm is
run by Jim Olson and Tom Kundig, who serve as owners and principal designers.
steel houses have won awards. He’s one of the most recognized architects in all
of North America. His work has received more than 60 local, regional, and national
has received the Seattle AIA Medal of Honor and many design awards from all
over the world. His work was also featured at a solo exhibition at the
University of Washington in 2015.
received the 2009 National AIA Architecture Firm Award and the 2004 Emerging
Voices Award from the Architectural League of New York. The firm was named in
the AD100 list by Architectural Digest for six years in a row. The list
recognizes the top talent in architecture and design.
Olson Kundig Homes
firm incorporates steel into virtually every project, their designs are far
from the usual metal homes you find in kits. Their homes are unapologetically
contemporary and innovative in design.
Olson Kundig’s most noteworthy steel projects include:
Location: Winthrop, Washington Images: Benjamin Benschneider
Methow Valley, Studhorse was designed for the client to enjoy and interact with
the landscape all year round. Playing off the tradition of circling wagons, the
home consists of four buildings surrounding a central courtyard with a pool.
buildings are made primarily of steel and glass. The siding features salvaged
wood from a barn in Spokane, WA. As the wood and steel weather over time, the
home will further blend into its surrounding landscape.
Studhorse received the 2015 AIA Housing Award for Architecture and was featured
in several publications.
Huts project takes camping to a new level. Wheels lift the low-tech and low-impact
huts above the surrounding meadow, allowing for unspoiled views of the
have a simple design consisting of a steel-clad box on a wood and steel
platform. Clerestory windows top the walls to allow as much natural light in as
possible. Each hut is 200 square feet and features 240 square feet of covered
deck surrounding the space. The exterior is durable and maintenance-free,
consisting of car-decking, steel and plywood.
Sol Duc Cabin
Olympic Peninsula, Washington
The Sol Duc
Cabin is tiny living at its best. The 350-square foot cabin sits atop a small
perch for stunning views of the Sol Duc River.
sits in a temperate rainforest, which means the weather is primarily wet and
cold. Lifting the home off of the ground protects it from moisture and
features a series of shutters that makes it easy to open and close the home for
the season. All shutters are operated manually using custom steel rods. Most of
the cabin was prefabricated, which reduced construction waste and helped
preserve the natural beauty of the site.
House makes the most of its small, sloping site. By directing the views away
from nearby homes, the design gives the feeling of seclusion right in the
middle of an urban landscape.
wall of the home has a moment frame, which allows the building to flex when
responding to seismic activity. This design also eliminates the need for a
load-bearing wall, allowing for continuous views of the landscape.
floor is essentially one open living space. A steel-clad box near the entry of
the home houses a pantry and powder room. All private areas are situated at the
top of the home. The lower level has a guest suite, mudroom, storage area and
Chicken Point Cabin
Location: Northern Idaho
lakeside cabin was designed to be as open to the water as possible. Tom
Kundig’s solution was a simple one: to have a large, pivoting picture window
that literally opens the home up to the stunning landscape.
This 20’ x
30’ window is the most defining and unique feature of the cabin. It opens up
using a manual hand-crank, but smart design makes it easy to operate.
loft houses the master suite, which is suspended into a concrete-block shell
overlooking the living area. The additional bedrooms and other living areas of
the home are situated on the two sides of the main area.
square-foot home features siding made of reclaimed Douglas fir barnwood. The
clients wanted the home and nearby barn to play off of each other in design and
construction. Barn references are seen all throughout the home. Rolling glass
window walls in the living area slide open just like barn doors. Both
structures have pitched, gabled roof lines.
The home has
an open floor plan with exposed timber beams and columns. The stairway is made
of cold-pressed steel wrapped in leather. Steel hardware, concrete floors and
sliding steel doors are a nice contrast to the wood-clad kitchen area.
Shelter is a 1,000 square-foot cabin that’s designed to maximize the beauty of
has a simple design that’s, essentially, a steel-clad box on stilts. The home
can be opened or completely shuttered when the owner is away.
The cabin is
entirely supported by four steel columns. Most of the home’s components were
sits on a 40-acre property and rises above a 100-year flood plain near the
Methow River. The owner wanted a low-maintenance, durable cabin for himself and
Shelter’s steel exterior makes the home virtually indestructible. The cabin has
three levels. The bottom level is part carport, part storage room. The middle
area consists of the entryway, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The top floor is
an open living space with dining and cooking areas.
Pole Pass Retreat
San Juan Islands, Washington
a wooded shoreline, Pole Pass Retreat was designed to be a gathering space for
loved ones. The waterfront home offers views of the meadow and harbor.
cedar siding is slightly charred using a traditional Japanese method, which
makes the wood less of a target for pests, fire and rot.
The home has
a flexible design that allows the owner to make adjustments according to the
season. Large windowed walls open up to the outdoors, allowing the owner to
take full advantage of the summer weather.
A single-family home set in a fire-prone area.
The home is made of concrete, steel and glass – all fire-resistant materials.
The exterior features perforated metal screens on the west side, which can be
lowered to provide additional fire protection.
front door allows the owner to let fresh air in, but gives control over how
much the door opens. The door is controlled using a system of locks, gears and
chains. The central hallway provides 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean.