May 09, 2023

2023 Portland Modern Home Tour has midcentury and new modern homes, and cool gardens, too

Since modern design doesn't start at the front door, this year's Portland Modern Home Tour includes a focus on landscaping as part of an inviting environment.Black Sheep Design

Architects’ private residences are revealing because they typically reflect experimenting with a style and adding very personal touches. The 2023 Portland Modern Home Tour on Saturday, June 3, offers the rare opportunity to see the modest, modern chalet celebrated architect Joachim Grube created in 1966 for his wife, Liz, and children on a hillside in Southwest Portland.

Joachim and Liz Grube lived in their home, hosting architects from around the world, for 55 years.

"The Joachim Grube Residence has had very minimal updates and is in nearly vintage condition in every way," says Jeff Weithman of Real Estate Through Design, who will greet tour goers at the property as will members of the Grube family who still own the property.

In addition to experiencing Joachim Grube's unique vision of Northwest Regional Style architecture, Weithman says visitors will see the art the architect and his wife collected and the woodblock prints he created.

The Portland Modern Home Tour also includes houses constructed by a carpenter in 1934 and a builder in 1965, as well as updated newer residences and accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

Since modern design doesn't start at the front door, this year's tour offers a new feature: Modern landscaping, which plays a role in setting an inviting environment.

Ticket holders ($45 each or $80 for two, at will also hear about energy-efficiency materials and smart design ideas from Portland architects, designers and builders during the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Here are highlights of the 2023 Portland Modern Home Tour as described by event producers, the Modern Architecture + Design Society:

Architect's hillside chalet: For a half century as a founding member of YGH Architecture, Joachim Grube designed projects around the world as detailed in his 2020 memoir, "A Window in History: An Architect at the Crossroads to Globalization."

For his family, he designed an 1,800-square-foot house with glue-laminated wood beams, concrete walls and bookend terraces to sit on six concrete piers on sloped land in Southwest Portland's Sylvan Highlands neighborhood. Inside, Grube installed wall-to-wall bookcases and contemporary artwork.

Don't miss seeing a wood panel created by sculptor Leroy Setziol over the fireplace.

Next door is architect Richard A. Campbell's modern chalet. Grube and Campbell split a parcel considered "unbuildable." The Campbell family also lived in their home for decades.

Midcentury builder's residence: The late midcentury builder and designer Kenneth Birkemeier's personal residence in Northwest Portland's Kings Heights was constructed in 1965 on a steep slope below the Pittock Mansion.

Modernism's signature elements of expansive windows in spacious, open-plan rooms under cathedral ceilings are employed here, connecting the interior to views of four mountains, the Willamette River and the city's skyline.

The two-story dwelling was renovated by the current owners in 2021. The redesign team at Giulietti Schouten Weber Architects in Portland improved the functionality of the main level and added a primary suite, office and powder room. The expanded deck cantilevers over the slope, enlarging the outdoor space adjacent to the living and dining rooms. Two guest bedrooms were relocated on the lower level.

Energy-saving improvements include new insulation, siding and windows. Seismic upgrades better secured the structure to the hillside.

Don't miss seeing the original stone-clad fireplace in the living room.

Side-by-side custom homes: A half-acre lot in Southwest Portland's Multnomah Village was divided into two parcels for new homes created by M.O.Daby Design for two sisters and their families. One of the houses on the tour reflects the Pacific Northwest Modern style with Oregon white oak flooring, cedar-clad ceiling and Douglas fir casework, window frames, doors and trim.

For both homes, Matthew O. Daby of Portland strategically placed metal-clad windows to capture the views, provide privacy and allow for passive solar access. The variety of exterior styles and textures include painted lap siding, natural wood cladding and board-formed concrete.

Notice that the metal shed and flat roofs respond to the sloping site. "Creating similar external shapes with different materials gives the effect of a ‘different but together’ visual that is emblematic of the relationship between these two families," Daby explains.

Both houses are equipped with framing for a future elevator, blocking for grab bars and other mobility aids. Zero-barrier showers, wide hallways and doorframes, and main floors that can transition to single-level living allow the couples to age in place.

Each lower level is planned for a self-contained, one-bedroom ADU (accessory dwelling unit). High efficiency and sustainable features qualified the structures for Earth Advantage Platinum certification.

Surrounding the dwellings are low-maintenance concrete slabs with decomposed granite joints and board-formed concrete walls along with a rain garden and natural stone terrace designed by Method Landscape Architecture of Portland.

Renovated Pacific Northwest modern: Portland-based Aubrey McCormick and Walker Templeton of Black Sheep Design worked with Jason Karam of Process Architecture, also of Portland, to renovate a 1934 house into a sophisticated Pacific Northwest modern on a 1.6-acre park-like property in Southwest Portland's Garden Home neighborhood.

The original builder and owner was a carpenter. The redesign team created spaces that blend the old with new. McCormick's Twyne Design selected sustainable interior finishes throughout the 2,750-square-foot house.

Extending the entertainment area is a large deck and outdoor hardscape. A long, private drive leads to the detached garage and a studio.

The Slender House: Wendy Scott Design of Portland updated the Slender House, an architectural award-winning structure built in 2018 on a narrow lot in North Portland's Mississippi District.

Designer Kristin Van Buskirk of the Woonwinkel shop in Portland suggested a color palette to harmonize with the existing quarter-sawn white oak flooring, cabinets and doors selected by architect Ben Waechter of Portland-based Waechter Architecture.

Accessories were found at local shops and antique stores. Bold, custom murals by Banyan Bridges of Vancouver, Washington, in the stairwell and primary bathroom tie the home's color scheme together. Products by local makers displayed across 2,500 square feet of living space include Pratt + Larson marble tile and wall colors selected from Miller Paint's Northwest Color Collection.

Behind the three-level, three-bedroom house is a courtyard linked to a standalone, drive-through garage with an upstairs apartment.

Don't miss noticing the square stone pavers that serve as a continuous carpet for the property.

Architectural ADU: Webster Wilson Architect of Portland designed an architecturally ambitious backyard ADU (accessory dwelling unit) to share a lot with a larger house in Southeast Portland's Mount Tabor Park area.

The 750-square-foot home, completed in 2023, has modern wood finishes, clean detailing and an abundance of see-through openings. The structure starts as a simple shed at the street, but then slides past the existing house and unfolds into a large living space with floor-to-ceiling glass viewing into a private garden.

Don't miss seeing how floor space and storage are maximized in this small home.

Outdoor entertaining: Fusion Landscape Design in Portland transformed a backyard with an uneven brick patio, weedy lawn and kids’ play area in Southeast Portland's Colonial Heights into an inviting, year-round entertainment area.

The pavilion extending from the 1928 house was designed by eMZed Architecture of Portland. The covered outdoor area has a double-sided fireplace, heat lamps and screens for comfortable viewing. The partially enclosed grill station allows for barbecue dinners under the stars at the long dining table.

The landscape is enclosed by a gray-washed horizontal fence and a pollarded hornbeam hedge. Contemporary hex pavers are used for patios and gravel pathways lead to the casual lounge patio and the perennial garden.

Fusion Landscape Design also updated the front yard with a brick courtyard garden.

Don't miss seeing the eco-smart pet relief zone.

Northwest contemporary garden: An 8,800-square-foot parcel surrounded by mature fir trees in Lake Oswego was re-created into lush landscapes by Helena Wagner of 4 Season Gardens in Portland.

Large boulders excavated from the property were strategically placed to accentuate and hold metal edging. Wooden arches define the entrance of the garden's water feature and gravel paths lead to a covered sitting area with a fireplace.

Don't miss seeing how low-maintenance plants offer a variety of texture, color and interest.

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman

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