Sunrise-Sunset House

Portola Valley, CA

One of the primary design goals for this Portola Valley Sunrise-Sunset House was to take advantage of the 180º views from both the interior living spaces and the exterior private yard spaces, while creating a sense of privacy in relation to the two neighboring homes. In particular, the main living space was to be oriented toward the west/northwest view corridor to Windy Hill, and the master bedroom suite oriented toward the eastern view to Foothills Park—hence the sunrise to sunset design concept was born. The design is anchored by a strong east-west axis and interior circulation corridor. The massing of the home is purposely staggered and articulated off of the axis to allow for the integration of outdoor spaces with the interior spaces, as well as with the natural topography. As spectacular and unique as this site is in terms of its multiple view corridors, it presented many challenges during the design process.

Sunrise-Sunset House
Sunrise-Sunset House

All members of the team are excellent listeners, communicators and task masters. Every meeting was followed up with an email distributed to all relevant parties summarizing all decisions and next steps. 

Sunrise-Sunset House

The house’s exterior material palette can be described as both organic and modern, fitting for the raw natural setting of the site. There are several earth-toned horizontal board-form concrete walls parallel with the dominant east-west axis. The most significant of these being the architectural wall bordering the western terrace, through which guests enter. Not only does this feature wall provide a strong identity to the guest entry, but also offers privacy from the neighboring house to the west. The roof forms are a combination of very shallow curves, flat roofs and living roofs making the roofing largely invisible from the surrounding areas. The prominent  curvilinear profile in the roofline emulates the undulation of the surrounding hills.

The interior of the home consists of a simple palette of materials. There is extensive use of natural wood, exposed board-form concrete walls, exposed structural steel with an acid patina finish and large format porcelain tile flooring throughout the interior and continuing seamlessly to the exterior terraces. With extensive glass walls, including several large sliding doors, the line is blurred between the inside and outside.

Tom and Carl have a way of turning a client’s dream into reality. Building the home is a pleasure thanks to their well executed plans. We have enjoyed being part of their team!
— Ron Godby, Godby Construction Inc.
Sunrise-Sunset House
The square three team is exceptionally skilled at listening to divergent viewpoints on a particular design topic and coalescing a decision, ultimately shared by all, with the skill of a family therapist.
— Homeowner


  • General Contractor
    Godby Construction
  • Landscape Architect
    Thuilot Associates