The project site is a 2.57 acre parcel located just west of downtown Mill Valley. The site is populated with many redwood trees and currently has 4 existing houses, one of which, the Redwood Lodge, built in 1891, is important to the history of the City. The Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio Creek winds its way through the center of the property.
The project involves dividing the site into a planned development overlay district comprising 5 separate parcels, 4 of which have existing houses in various states of disrepair. Upon completion of an EIR, it was decided that 3 of the 4 houses (one of which is the Redwood Lodge), contributed to a historic “district” along with the “cultural landscape” of stone bridges and pathways. The project then became a renovation of 3 houses with the addition of two new houses. Four of the 5 sites add new garages with second units above.
The existing houses set the formal tone for the site …deeply entrenched in the early Bay Region vernacular of sleeping porches , informality and whimsical/playful pieces along with sheltering roof forms and redwood shingles. The additions to the 3 houses lay firmly in that tradition.
The two new residences on the site take a “separate but equal” approach. They are distinguished by black-stained horizontal cedar boards to screen exterior stairs, in front of some window glass to add privacy, and at areas designed as references to the screened porches of the historic houses. These distinguishing characteristics allow the new structures to blend in with the dark understory of the redwood trees and are a “quieter” massing resolution, allowing the historic structures more prominence. The shed roofs keep the massing low and do not compete with the grandeur of the landscape, nor the simplicity and craftsmanship of the earlier structures. They also distinguish the new from the old, important on historic sites, as well as respond to the “anti-industrial” and whimsical aesthetic of the late 1800’s Bay Region Style.
Design Completion: 2016
Total project area: 75,000 square feet.