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  • Writer's pictureEric Akines

Tom Kundig: The Artisan Architect Shaping Spaces with Soul

Known as the 'Leschi House', this gorgeous Tom Kundig designed estate located on the shores of Washington Park has hit the market for the first time since it was built in 2014 for $19.5M. A description of the home pulled from the Olson-Kundig website articulates the design intent of the home perfectly. "A nearly continuous glass façade on this Lake Washington home creates the effect of a single luminous volume, glowing from within like a jewel box. The design maximized the home’s footprint on its tight infill lot, with the extensive use of glass visually lightening the volume. The home’s three levels appear to merge together behind the floating glass façade. Blackened steel on exterior window mullions and siding continues inside, where a refined palette gives a sense of modern elegance."

In the world of architecture, where innovation and creativity intersect, Tom Kundig stands as a luminary whose work transcends conventional boundaries. Renowned for his distinctive style and unique approach to architecture, Kundig has carved a niche for himself in the industry, creating spaces that seamlessly blend the natural with the industrial, the rustic with the contemporary. This blog post delves into Tom Kundig's architectural style and his unparalleled approach to designing spaces that resonate with a profound sense of authenticity.

The Man Behind the Designs:

Tom Kundig, born in 1954, is a principal and owner of Olson Kundig, a Seattle-based design firm known for its commitment to craftsmanship and innovative design solutions. With a degree in architecture from the University of Washington, Kundig's journey in the field has been marked by a relentless pursuit of creative excellence.

Architectural Style:

Kundig's architectural style is often characterized by a harmonious blend of industrial materials, bold forms, and a deep appreciation for the surrounding natural environment. His designs exude a sense of rugged elegance, where the rawness of steel and concrete is softened by the warmth of wood and the integration of natural elements.

One of the defining features of Kundig's work is the emphasis on creating interactive and responsive spaces. Many of his designs incorporate movable components, such as large steel doors and windows, allowing users to manipulate their environment and forge a dynamic relationship with the architecture. This dynamic interplay between the built environment and its inhabitants gives Kundig's structures a living, breathing quality.

Approach to Architecture:

Tom Kundig's approach to architecture is deeply rooted in a philosophy that celebrates the marriage of form and function. He is known for embracing the imperfections of raw materials, allowing the passage of time to enhance the character of his designs. Kundig's commitment to authenticity is evident in his use of honest, locally sourced materials, as well as his belief in creating spaces that tell a story.

The architect often draws inspiration from the surrounding context, whether it be the rolling hills of the countryside or the urban sprawl of a bustling city. This contextual awareness is reflected in the way his structures seamlessly integrate with their surroundings, establishing a symbiotic relationship with the environment. Notable Projects:

  1. Chicken Point Cabin (2002): Nestled on the shores of a lake in Idaho, this cabin showcases Kundig's signature moveable components, including a 20-ton counterweight that allows the entire facade to be lifted, exposing the interior to the outdoors.

  2. Delta Shelter (2005): Located in Washington, this steel-clad cabin is designed to withstand the harsh climatic conditions of the region. Its movable shutters can be opened or closed, transforming the building into a secure fortress or an open pavilion.

  3. The Pierre (2016): Situated in the heart of San Juan Islands, this residence exemplifies Kundig's ability to create spaces that seamlessly connect with the natural landscape, featuring expansive windows that frame breathtaking views.

Tom Kundig's architectural style is a testament to the idea that great design goes beyond aesthetics; it is about creating spaces that resonate with the human experience. His ability to blend the industrial with the organic, the static with the dynamic, sets him apart as an architect who not only designs structures but also crafts experiences. In a world where innovation is often synonymous with complexity, Kundig's work reminds us that simplicity, authenticity, and a deep connection to the environment can yield architecture that stands the test of time. For more information on the currently listed Leschi Home estate located in the Washington Park neighborhood of Seattle or to schedule a private tour, please reach out to me directly at or by calling me at 206-859-1119.

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Nov 17, 2023

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