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"Marin Home Tour Lets Nature Be Your Guide" Tracey Taylor, Special to The Chronicle 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If there’s one thing the houses featured on the American Institute of Architects’ Marin Home Tour teach us, it’s how to work with, not against, nature when crafting dwellings. Each of the five homes on the May 15 tour embraces the landscape in which it is sited to such an extent that the boundaries between structure and nature are often pleasantly obscure. Whether it’s the Sausalito home that gives itself completely to the panoramic sweep of the bay, the crescent-shaped home in Mill Valley designed 50 years ago to follow precisely the contours of a forest ridge, or the newly built house, also in Mill Valley, that tucks itself into a steep hillside and then uses the resulting verticality to stunning effect: All have grabbed the gorgeous Marin scenery and run with it.

Radius House

Dwyer Design (renovation), Daniel Liebermann (original architect and apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright)
This home of the earth defines the concept of building in harmony with nature. Designed in the early 1960s by Daniel Liebermann, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, the Radius House is just 1,000 square feet, and its unusual crescent shape was chosen to follow, and nestle snugly into, the contours of the forest’s ridge.

The home gives itself completely to the beautiful giant redwoods that surround it; the ample use of wood and stone inside bring it even closer to the land.

The owners asked contractor Kevin Smith and designer Vivian Dwyer to bring the home up to contemporary standards without in any way deviating from the original vision. The roof was rebuilt to allow for adequate ventilation and for a proper electrical system. A new kitchen was installed and the concrete floors, wood beams and signature metal pipes were all refurbished. The curved exposed brick walls were covered with smooth, white plaster. Idiosyncratic original elements such as the airplane glass shelves that cut into the exterior walls, drawing in light on overcast days, were also restored.

Finally, a new lighting system creates magical effects at night to complement the compelling way the sunlight moves through the house during the day.

You can read the article and see more photos here.