Sublime Design: David Coleman Architecture

This northwest architect designs timeless structures in an accelerated culture.

An exacting rendition of Western popular culture enjoys recognition for rendering a phenomenon that’s constantly in flux, inert. America’s collective consciousness, in turn, rewards each memetic creator with the temporary sensation of actualization and accomplishment in American zeitgeist.

Saint Therese Church | Photo Courtesy of David Coleman

This give and take epitomizes the perverse relationship between pop culture and a designer. Satiate the artistic desires of Americana, receive fifteen five minutes on the peak of Pop Culture Mountain. Then, back to obscurity.

In the design world, escaping the limitations and confines of popular culture proves a quest unto itself. Transcendence doesn’t come easy. For those on the hunt for something more, architectural design offers an excellent niche, eschewing popular culture and depending on earthly elements to create and engineer beauty.

The Hill House | Photo Courtesy of David Coleman Architecture

David Coleman is an architect intelligently designed for the Northwest. His ability to synthesize the contrasting juxtaposition of what Coleman refers to as the “soft” Northwest atmosphere with the “dramatic physical setting” is uncanny. The lighting of the Pacific Northwest varies day-to-day, making structural interaction with the setting, light and atmosphere incredibly complex. Coleman takes it in stride.

One of Coleman’s current personal favorite creations, the Hill House, is located in Winthrop, Washington. The shelter rests atop a hillside, and resembles a cross-section of a modernist ranch that’s isolated by a series of lengthy, gabion stone walls and the main wall of the shelter, which faces east. The eastern wall cuts directly perpendicular of the foundation, with sporadic windows for ventilation. During the summertime, the ample deck space increases the utilizable square footage of the house exponentially. Come winter, the square footage decreases and the house becomes a contemplative hideaway.

Another one of Coleman’s favorites, the Zig Zag House in Yarrow Point, Washington, uses lines, angles and glasswork to provide tranquility and optimization in limited space.

The Zig Zag House | Photo Courtesy of David Coleman Architecture

With design this powerful, it’s difficult to imagine someone actually inhabiting one of Coleman’s homes. Each habitat appears impermeable to corruption by human wear-and-tear. Still, that doesn’t betray the permanence of each structure. Years from now, eschaton pending, Coleman’s constructs will remain a testament to the transcendent nature of architecture and the tremendous ability of David Coleman to explore the interstices of the Pacific Northwest.

David Coleman, FAIA | 5206 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle | (206) 443-5626

Architects are easily defined by their prose. Their descriptive phrases, i.e. “evocative of space” or “habitable landscape” don’t connote much, but it does make you feel compelled to nod in agreement as the intended message whooshes overhead.