After four years of working for and in collaboration with Bassetti and Morse, Wendell Lovett started his own architectural practice in 1952. Built in 1957 for Connie and Gervais Reed and located in the Hilltop Community near Bellevue, the Reed residence is a good example of his early work. The house is a split-level concept, elevating the primary living floor distinctly above the ground. This is articulated on the exterior with a dynamic sectional form that extends beyond the dimension of the lower floor and seems to hover over the sloping landscape. Later designs by Lovett (such as the addition to his own house) would explore further this expression of an aerodynamic form suspended over the land.
The roof trusses demonstrate Lovett’s affection for using structure as a design feature in a sculptural and dynamic way. The trusses were constructed by the owner in the basement shop of the Henry Gallery, where he was director. There is a range of inexpensive parts and materials throughout the house utilized in interesting details. Cabinets, stairs, fireplace, and furniture also reflect the same innovative qualities as the house frame.
On the exterior the skin of the house peels away to reveal the frame and to allow openings for windows and doors. From the inside the ceiling seems to peel up to let light stream in the clerestory windows.
Like the Clark home, this house was built with a modest budget and demonstrates an admirable efficiency of design. Rooms are very small by today’s standards, but families with two and three children were raised in these compact homes.
The Reed house was widely published domestically and abroad, including Art and Architecture, Domus, and in a number of books.
This property was a Docomomo US/WEWA tour home in 2003 (Bellevue Modernism Tour) and 2008 (Hilltop Tour).