Boyd House, 985 Duchess Avenue – one of Ron Thom’s mid-century modern gems
The Boyd house (named for original clients, painters Joan and Bruce Boyd), is a small architectural gem that seems to belong on its rugged site, growing out of the steep ivy and fern-covered slope but barely visible from Duchess Avenue.
“The joiner work is rough, the nail holes are all exposed, because they were doing it on a shoestring. But the form of the building is so beautiful, the finishing doesn’t even matter.
[The Boyd house] is just a great place to be in.”
– Russell Hollingsworth, architect
Thom liked to set his buildings so that people could come across a house in the trees – from above or below – but not be able to see all of it. A low-hipped cedar shake roof floats over the cedar and cement block base. Glass meets glass and corner windows vanish into thin air.
The house reflects Ron Thom’s admiration for the designs of both Frank Lloyd Wright, who often applied Japan’s formal discipline to indigenous materials, and Richard Neutra, who believed deeply in getting to know his clients, their lives, their preferences. Design ideas that Thom then adapted to our Pacific Northwest climate and geography.
“The Boyd house is a particularly significant work of Ron Thom architecture… the house itself – its construction and the architectural values embedded within – is paradigmatic of Mr. Thom’s key architectural tenets of deferring to the landscape, using local materials and creating a structure that is an aesthetic masterpiece.”
– Adele Weder, architectural critic, Globe and Mail