This mid-century modern home on a steep hill in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco is not on the historic registry, but David Darling treated it as though it were. After all, it is the first one that the late Joseph Esherick built in the city in 1949. Because he viewed the structure as a significant resource, Darling and project designer Melinda Turner kept the front façade intact. Of course, this made a complete overhaul of the rest of the home a bit more laborious.
In order to achieve their vision, the crew had to come up with a creative way to move equipment in and out of the home without disrupting the front exterior. Ultimately, they built a ramp and drove the construction equipment through the house. With logistics in place to work around the obstacle, Darling and Turner set out to adapt the original design to its present-day context, reconfiguring the L-shaped structure to allow for as much natural light as possible. In doing so, they would take the once seemingly detached spaces and create unexpected connectivity between the rooms.
“Daylight is one of our recurring themes, using light to sculpt space, but I didn’t realize how [much] you could use it to save energy and illuminate every space in the house,” Darling explains. “We pushed that pretty far in this project.”
At the center of the design is a large multi-story interior atrium that works to capture outdoor space and serves as a spatial hub, pulling daylight deep into the home’s interior. A transverse bridge and a reclaimed pine sculpted wood wall that filters and carves light help to reinforce the dialogue between earth and sky that is spoken through the material palette of concrete, wood, glass, steel, and diffused light. The relationship between outdoors and the interior is further developed with a new lower level that physically connects the inside with the exterior landscape.