A New Landing

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Aleck Wilson Architects shapes a modern landing for a couple of empty nesters atop a San Carlos canyon

Photos by Matthew Millman.

“Designing a custom home is a very personal process and we enjoy developing close relationships with our clients.  This process of understanding the clients’ spoken, as well as unspoken goals, allows us to develop designs that exceed their expectations,” says third generation architect Aleck Wilson on how his firm, Aleck Wilson Architects get to the core of each project.

A custom built-in in the main living space, holds both the TV and art.Photos by Matthew Millman.

When tasked with designing a new ground-up home for former clients that were recent empty nesters, they spent considerable time on the hillside site, mapping the views and view corridors to site the house. “This is a home embracing the view and the canyon, surrounded by nature and a very different experience than their old home in the flats,” says Wilson. “We were looking to create a home that suits their lifestyle and can accommodate their kids and guests as needed.”

High-quality custom cabinets created the cabinetry and custom finishes throughout.Photos by Matthew Millman.
Rick Campi Construction worked with contractors to develop the incredible concrete floors and walls.Photos by Matthew Millman.

Focused on the views and bringing the outdoors in, the 4400-square-foot home (with an adjacent ADU) sits atop a canyon in San Carlos, where sun and wind are known factors. “We incorporated passive cooling and ventilation, with automated shades and fans to limit heat gain and encourage air flow,” says Wilson. “Another important feature is the integration of the cooling natural light in the home, where the three-story stairwell collects filtered light through a perforated, corrugated Cor-Ten steel scrim and a natural convective loop to create air movement through the home.”

Photos by Matthew Millman.
Our palette of materials embraces an unadorned design sensibility and expresses the home’s structure.Photos by Matthew Millman.

What is most impressive is how the home sits on the challenging hillside, where its marvelous shapes emerge from all angles. “I am pleased with the volumes of the home and how you experience them from visual as well as the experiential approach across the bridge and down the central stairwell,” says Wilson. “The overlook from the hallway to the great room captures our emphasis on the sectional design of the home.”

Reynaers provided the very large, narrow doors and windows.Photos by Matthew Millman.
All of the tile and marble were sourced from Da Vinci Marble.Photos by Matthew Millman.

Material selections were key in providing more structural benefits as well as architectural details. “I was pleased with the way we incorporated all of the materials—particularly the concrete walls,” he notes. “Not many clients can visualize a two-story internal concrete wall which was developed closely with the structural engineer and general contractor.”

A pair of bridges span the home’s canyon and provide a visual axis for a stunning view of the S.F. Bay.
Photos by Matthew Millman.
The landscape was designed by Randy Thueme.Photos by Matthew Millman.

The wife, a trained architect and the husband, an accomplished software programmer, were very involved throughout the entire process. “Our clients were regular visitors to the job site and we had regular site meetings, so reveals were gradual,” says Wilson. “The various stages of pouring concrete were dramatic, and the removal of the forms that created the the two-story board formed concrete walls were highly anticipated and exciting.” The final result is a modern marvel where the clients can host their children upon return from college and indulge in their many hobbies and love for the outdoors.