Combining two condos makes space for life and work
At the Lumen condominiums near the Seattle Center, two units are combined to make room for both work and life.
Developed by Alan Winningham of Landstar Real Estate and designed by David Hewitt of Hewitt Architects, the Lumen takes up a full city block. Part of the land was acquired from the city of Seattle, which asked Landstar to focus on the "architectural appropriateness" of its design. Winningham explains that he and Hewitt wanted the project to be "genuine and indigenous," and their first job was to figure out "the culture and sense of place." They came to two important conclusions: First, Seattle has deep Scandinavian roots; second, the lot can be viewed as a bookend to the Seattle Center.
As a result, the final design has marked Scandinavian influences. With its interior courtyard, light-filled interiors and modern aesthetic, it resonates with anyone who's been to Northern Europe, so it's no surprise that residents include expats from there.
An aerial view of the Lumen highlights its location at one end of the Seattle Center and the Pacific Science Center at the opposite end. With all the color and design of the iconic architecture nestled in between, Winningham liked the idea of another white piece to complement the Science Center. Call it serendipity that white is also the perfect color for a piece of Scandinavian-inspired architecture.
From the start, Giorgio Davanzo and Dan Burke were loving the Lumen. They appreciated its unique northern European aesthetic and the purity of its building materials (concrete, steel and glass without ornamentation). Modern but not trendy. And they were excited by its location, close to downtown, to the opera and theater at the Seattle Center, and within walking distance of Dan's work and numerous sports bars.
And yet they hesitated. Some of the units were too small for them, others too large.
But the project had not yet broken ground, and the innovative design made it easy for them to buy two smaller units, then have them built with only one kitchen and no separating wall.
At just under 1,300 square feet, the unique layout gives them a surprising amount of space, flexibility and storage. In what would have been one of the units there is a guest bathroom, TV room and kitchen; in the other there is the master bath, bedroom and Davanzo's office, and between them is a wide-open space they use as the living and dining rooms that open to two small decks. Davanzo and Burke entertain often and appreciate the way their layout allows for easy traffic flow with a crowd, but just as easily lends itself to more intimate gatherings.
Davanzo is a graphic designer, so the simplicity of the Lumen's plans appealed to him. And because he came to Seattle from Venice, by way of Florence, the European feel was alluring as well. Burke is originally from Michigan, and works at the Port of Seattle as a transportation planner. Possessing what Davanzo refers to as "good Midwestern logic," he, too, loved the look of the Lumen. In other words, things must be functional as well as beautiful, and the Lumen's efficient use of space without clutter fit the bill.
Because Davanzo has always worked from home, his office was an important consideration as the couple shopped for a condo. "You need to make sure you make a space for the office that is not intrusive with the rest of the home, and at the same time you don't want a client to come over and see you stirring a pot," explains Davanzo. "So there needs to be a design that works well both ways. Not a home that looks like an office, but not an office that looks like your home." And that's where Nana wall systems (giant glazed-glass sections that slide on tracks) came in handy. They enclose Davanzo's office, separating it from the living spaces and giving it privacy without cutting it off.
The real challenge, however, was to design and decorate a small space for work, life and play without overwhelming it with stuff. In this case the result is particularly remarkable because while the whole condominium positively glows with color, warmth and personality (Davanzo designed the look of the board game Cranium, after all), and serves as home to two adults and workplace for one of them, there is nothing extraneous to take away from its sophisticated and surprisingly expansive ambience.
Leora Y. Bloom writes about beautiful homes. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff photographer.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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