Interview with Brian Conaway, designer of Hood River’s most Modern Home

So why this home?

Well after living in Hood River for a while it was apparent that Hood River needed a unique home of significance, a landmark home if you will. This home would need the right setting, the right neighborhood, and needed to be set apart from any other home for years to come.

Where did you start?

It had to start with view land, but not just any view land. It would take two side by side lots that had to have just the right view - a view that benefited the home of course, but also the town as well. I wanted a location that allowed the town to view the house as easily as the house viewed the town. Then the neighborhood had to be conducive to modern architecture. The location was to be in the upscale hill section starting on the edge of the downtown.

It’s appears you chose the perfect spot! So how did you come up with that fantastic curved arch breezeway that everyone is talking about?

That was to be a unique experiment in both materials and geometry. Based on three curved glue lams all loading at the same width, but each one having a different radius, and making that direct attachment to a shed style roof. Then it was equally important that natural light could enter the breezeway. Making for a grand open-air feel to the entering of the home. Twin wall bronze polycarbonate was used for the covering over the arch.

I noticed you used lots of rounded corners throughout the home.

Yes, we all live in boxes of some sort for the most part and this home is no exception. Round corners soften the feel of what would normally be sharp angles. There is a pleasant blend of sharp intersecting lines with soft rounded corners, widows, and protrusions all working together.

It seems that the colors you chose are some of the richest I’ve ever seen in a home.

That is because of the large expanse of widows letting in so much natural light. Wonderful rich colors that would simply not work in most homes thrive in this one.

I’m blown away by the middle floor’s central 8 ft. curved hallway.

The hallway was made possible partially due to the fact that there was going to be enough room to do so after all the rooms off of that hall were the correct size for their purpose. Often now a days rooms are small and cramped. On this project each room had to feel right first. Large rooms lead to a large ball. But this hall is 54’ long and curved! It needed to produce the right feel. So a natural woven grass wall covering was chosen to give it a warm textured feel like walking through a field of tall dry grass in the summer. Lighting for the hall was equally important. So art glass wall sconces that had their own unique color and texture were added.

How did you obtain privacy with all that glass?

Privacy had to be built in wherever possible, as Hood River is in a constant state of flux. It was the last century’s forefathers that plotted out the town, but it will be this century that fills in those plots. It required specific placement of windows on the south, east, and west sides. Trees were left on three sides. It was also important to incorporate as much deck as possible on the north side - making it possible to view over the town, while keeping the town from viewing into the home. The top floor has two gates that handle privacy at street level. Then the only other view into the home is through the 12’ x 2’ window used as the kitchen backsplash, and it’s up to the owner as to how much of the town gets to view in.

I hear your design being compared to Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. What do you think about that?

I think it has many of the uses Frank Lloyd Wright enjoyed in his creations. Large over bangs, soft and sharp lines coming together and generous use of natural light combined with different textures and hues to complete the special feel that this home has.

I understand that the home has some great night lighting too.

Yes, the garage doors for example are back lit to produce a soft glow like rice paper, but instead of rice paper the commercial style garage doors use a opaque poly carbonate The rounded glass block corners of the garages have special colored lenses that can be changed out to a color to suite any mood your in.

You definitely have left hood River with a home that will make a statement for many years to come. So what’s your next project?

I have a few ideas for the next home I want to do.

I bet!