10. Rockwood House

David Rockwood, 1986 // Hayden Island (North Shore)

NOT SINCE John Yeon’s Watzek House has a local residence enjoyed so much international attention as the Hayden Island home Portland-born architect David Rockwood designed for his parents. Published in the United States, Europe, and Japan, and featured in noted critic Kenneth Frampton’s book American Masterworks: The Twentieth Century House, Rockwood’s design channels Yeon’s uncompromising craftsmanship by way of the celebrated prefab aesthetic of Charles and Ray Eames. Standing as commandingly as a Venetian palazzo on the Columbia River, the Rockwood House features an exposed steel structural system based on a near-perfect 11-foot, 6-inch grid. Panels of lightweight pumice concrete sandwiching foam insulation (a system Rockwood invented well before “sustainable” wall panels became mainstream) attach to the steel grid to form the exterior walls and roof. The kit-of-parts geometry is so pure that Frampton described it as “neoplatonic.” But for an interior atrium that poetically breaks the pattern, the house creates the peaceful sense of floating in some much larger whole with every view and space framed by the grid. As much inventor as architect, Rockwood now teaches at the University of Hawaii, where he is developing new kinds of solar energy–producing building skins and an accelerating escalator. (Private)