Goose Hollow Heights Project Underway

Construction has recently begun on this 1914 Portland home with breathtaking views in the hills above Goose Hollow. 

The majority of the work will involve adding a mudroom entry to the south side, as well as a full kitchen remodel. This involves a tear down of the interior, as well as some light excavation on the exterior. 

Working on a home that is 100 years old can present challenges, especially when you start opening up walls and seeing all the work that has been done in the past. Fortunately, our crew and dedicated team of subcontractors has years of experience dealing with architecturally significant homes such as this one, and construction is steadily progressing. Stay tuned for updates as we follow the progress in the coming months. 

Ski Lodge Schematic

We were recently given the opportunity to present initial ideas for a possible project in Canada. The project is only entering the conceptual stage at the moment so we wanted to give the client a few very schematic iterations focused on the form and feel of the building.

We started from several scaled sketches.

We then used SketchUp to quickly model four possible variations. We used shadows and 3d warehouse people to give depth to the concept, and to provide a sense of scale and reality. Finally, we used scenes to pick a few choice views and used the animation feature to create short clips for each model. 

At this stage we didn't want to impart too much reality or detail, so we're happy with the way they turned out.

Beach House Restoration

At drw our primary focus is on designing and building new buildings, as well as additions and alterations to existing buildings. Occasionally we have been approached to do repair and restoration on architecturally interesting projects, such as the Forest Park Midcentury Modern a couple years ago. Earlier this summer, one of clients asked us to do some restoration work on their beach house, which was designed by Saul Zaik, an architect we very much admire. (There is a good essay about Zaik's work at Portland Modern.)

On the whole, the house has aged very well, but the weather at the Oregon Coast can be much less forgiving than in the Willamette Valley. As such, some of the shingles and guardrails around the deck were in need of replacement. Our team, including David, Clay, Mitch & Jacob spent the last of September's good weather working on the restoration work.

Our first step was to demo the area in need of replacement.

We then installed new plywood sheathing.

Followed by new building paper.

The next step will be to hang new shingles, which will be carefully selected to match the existing.

During the course of our work, we were very careful to ensure that we continued to respect the architectural intent of the original design. One example of this is the guardrail cap, which needed to be replaced.

The guardrail cap was cut from a 6x6 Douglas Fir post. The first step was to miter cut the whole length of the post, so that it could be installed at a 45 degree angle. We then chamfered the corners, to ensure there were no sharp edges. We also a cut a kerf for the shingles to be let in into, to create a good drip-edge. The guardrail cap will be left unstained, as the original was, so that it will weather into the same silvery-gray color that the rest of the house has.

Deschutes Residence excavation

We last wrote about the Deschutes Residence in May, after a site visit to confirm the location on the property. Since then we have completed the construction documents, and obtained the building permits.

The house is being built by CS Construction in Bend, who forwarded us these photos of the excavations. This process is necessary to get enough depth for the foundations and crawlspace, while keeping the finished floor close to the average height of the exterior grade. Although the site is reasonably flat, there is a subtle slope across the length of the house. At one end the house will be built into the slope, with the finished floor being slightly below the level of the grade outside. At the other end, the grade will be built up to meet the garage slab. Splitting this difference avoids a large number of steps on the first floor, and keeps the building close to the ground.

After spending a good portion of this year thinking about the design of the house, it's exciting to see work begin on site. We look forward to updating our blog with the progress during construction.

2014 Summer BBQ

It's been a great summer in Portland, which gave us perfect weather for our 4th annual BBQ. It's hard to believe a year has already passed since our last BBQ. As ever, it was a great opportunity for our team (who are often working on different projects across the city) to get together over beer, burgers and table tennis. Unfortunately, no-one except our boss Ryan thought to wear their drw design build t-shirt.

Alphabet Condo, update

Work is drawing to a close at the Alphabet Condo, which we posted about early last month. Since then, tile and countertops have been installed, which complement the existing architecture of the space very nicely.

Deschutes Residence

We are currently working on the design for a new house in rural Deschutes County, near Bend. The clients are good friends of drw, who we previously designed a house for when they lived in Portland.  Since then, they have relocated to central Oregon, where they recently purchased a plot of land.  They approached us last year to design a new house for the site, to replace an existing manufactured house on the site.  The design makes reference to the agrarian landscape of Central Oregon, with references in its form to the graceful barns found in the area. The 1st floor walls will be stucco, with areas of cedar siding; and the second floor cedar siding. The roof will primarily be slate, with the dormers accented in standing seam metal.

West Elevation

On a recent trip to Bend, we visited the site with the clients to stake out the location of the house on the site.

The site is surrounded by mature juniper trees to the east, which will remain after construction. To the west, the house will face onto the owner's agricultural land, with views towards the Cascades.

Westover Residence

We're delighted to have received photos of our recently completed Westover Residence Kitchen. See more photos here.


Since the start of the year, we've been working on a remodel of condo in NW Portland's Alphabet District. It's a beautiful building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After buying the unit, our clients approached us with a number of improvements they wished to make before moving in, including a complete remodel of the kitchen and bathroom, as well as new cabinets for the living room and master bedroom.  After the inevitably messy phases of demo and rough plumbing / electrical, we've begun to move into finish work.  Mostly recently, the kitchen cabinets, built by Crownwood Construction, arrived on site, and it's now possible to see what the project is going to look like.


The Corbett-Terwilliger house is coming along nicely. The exterior siding is completed and the crew has moved onto the interior trim. Cabinets are scheduled to be finished any day and the kitchen should be up and running soon. 

John basking the pacific northwest sun

John basking the pacific northwest sun

Looking Back at 2013

Skyline Residence Kitchen

Skyline Residence Kitchen

It's been another busy year for drw design build. A lot has happened since our last summary in 2012:

Corbett-Terwilliger Latest

It's a while since we last checked in on the progress at the Corbett-Terwilliger house. Since then, the majority of the exterior work has been completed, including new custom windows built by the homeowner.

The interiors are coming along nicely, and we hope to have a photo update shortly. 

Westover Cabinet Delivery

After a couple months of demolition, framing, electrical and plumbing changes to substantially increase the size of the kitchen at the Westover House, today marked the day we were ready to receive the new kitchen cabinets. They were delivered to us by our friends in Eugene, Skyline Fine Cabinets, who have also built the cabinetry for a number of jobs, including the Fairmount Blvd House and the SW Vista House.

Summer BBQ

On a day with a low of 37 degrees, it's hard to believe it was just a couple months that we had our third annual BBQ. As a company with a design office and construction crews at various different projects, we don't necessarily get a chance to see each other at work as much as we might like, and so events like these are a great way to catch up.  It was a great evening, with some very (perhaps overly) competitive ping pong matches.

Design Matters

We would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who came to see our Cable Hill House on Saturday.  We really enjoyed having the opportunity to show off our work, and are very grateful to the homeowners for being willing to give up their house for the day.

Design Matters: A Tour of Exceptional Portland Homes

Update: 10/10/2013 - The AIA Homes tour is this Saturday.  We're looking forward to showing people around one of our favorite projects.

We're very excited that our Cable Hill House project has been chosen by the AIA Portland to be one of seven houses included in the 2013 home tour: "Design Matters: A Tour of Exceptional Portland Homes".  The tour takes place on Saturday, October 12th.  Tickets are $40, and available from the AIA.

Before & After at the Skyline Residence

We're coming to the end of our work at the Skyline Residence, and it's incredible to look back and see the changes that have taken place since we began the process

Living Room

The living room was previously dominated by a stone-clad fireplace, which was high on the priority list of things the owners wanted to change. The first step was to strip the fireplace back to its concrete block structure.  Drawing on ideas we first explored at the Cable Hill House, we then built a sheet steel fire surround and hearth extension around it, with a walnut entertainment center above it.  This contains the audio/visual control boxes, and a sliding panel allows the tv to be hidden when not in use.  By removing the dropped ceiling, we were able to gain another 15" of ceiling height.  The carpet was replaced by new hickory floors, which run throughout the first floor of the house.


The kitchen remains in the same location in the house, but with a much more efficient layout and contemporary style.  The cabinets were custom made by Crownwood Construction, with exposed birch plywood frames and walnut panels. The island and main kitchen counter have a carrara marble countertop, which is nicely complemented by matte-white subway tiles at the backsplash.


We added a new bar where a redundant second fire place previously existed.  The bar employs the same language of walnut and plywood cabinets, with some tougher materials for durability. The countertops are a grey quartz from Cosmos, and the backsplashes and bar-front are made of the same sheet steel we used at the fireplace in the living room.  We made a break from the hickory floors used throughout the rest of the first floor, and changed to tile, to make an appropriate transition to the pool immediately outside.

Hall & stair

The hall was previously an unpleasant space, which felt dark and narrow.  Without changing the width of the hall, we able to create a much more inviting atmosphere. New openings along the wall dividing the hall from the public rooms increased the amount of natural lighting getting into the hall, which is supplemented by new can lighting. In the stair, we expanded on the approach we first employed at the Walsh residence by building a fir screen to filter the light coming into the space.  We demolished the partial height wall which was acting as a guardrail, and replaced it with a steel stair rail, which creates a stronger visual relationship between the two levels.  The previously utilitarian stairwell is now one of our favorite moments in the house.


To avoid making major changes to plumbing and electrical system, we kept the existing layouts of the guest bathroom bathrooms, while making major changes to the finishes.  We continued the use of the walnut and plywood cabinets, but drew a visual distinction from the kitchen and bar areas by having the vanities float 12" off the floor, with tile running underneath them all the way to the wall.


The layout of the bedrooms on the second floor generally worked well, so we only made minor alterations, primarily to create more closet space for the master suite. We installed new fir trim around the windows and ceiling beams, smoothed out and painted the walls, and installed new carpet throughout the second floor.

Westover Residence Renovations

drw design build is about to begin demolition on a new renovation project in the Northwest area of Portland.  The residence is beautiful and solidly built 1911 Tudor Home situated on a sloping site.  The new owners have hired drw to expand and update the kitchen, as well as other improvements through out the home.  The design will blend with the traditional elements of the home while providing modern amenities and generous work space.

Stair Rail Fabrication

As we near completion on the Skyline Residence, it's exciting to see the final items for the house being made. One of the last of these is a new steel guardrail for the existing stairwell.  The guardrail is being fabricated for us by Greg Forcum Art & Furniture, whose shop we paid a visit to this morning. The rail is looking great, and we will be excited to see it installed on-site later this week.