A calendar reminder for sustainable architecture-loving Puget Sounders: On Nov. 21, two recently completed homes designed by Coates Design Architects — the firm behind the Ellis Residence, the first LEED Platinum single-family home in Washington state outside of Seattle — will be open for free public tours from noon until 3 p.m. Like the Ellis Residence, both homes on the tour, the Perilstein Residence and the Dorsey Residence, are located on beautiful Bainbridge Island.


The airy and light-drenched (check out those windows!) Perilstein Residence is being showcased as an AIA “Home of the Month” sponsored by Seattle Magazine and Northwest Home Magazine. The home boasts numerous green features such as EnergyStar appliances, low-flow toilets, the use of local building materials and labor, native landscaping, in-floor hydronic heating, and a design that promotes natural cooling through cross ventilation.


The home was thoughtfully constructed (as to not disturb the environment and vegetation surrounding the site) in the footprint of an existing structure. The older structure was deconstructed with some of the salvageable building materials being handed over to a local wood furniture maker.


Perilstein fireplace

From looking at the photos of the Perilstein Residence, I’m digging the warmth that the red panels bring to both the exterior and interior of the home. It’s no doubt a distinctly modern space but the color prevents it from being too stark. You’ve also probably noticed that the Perilstein Residence sports some eye-catching sculptures. The owners, Tom and Heather Perilstein, run a Mexican folk art gallery in Pike Place Market and wanted a place to show off their own personal collection.


The Dorsey Residence is no less impressive. Minimalist and somewhat intimidating on the outside but open and inviting on the inside (more on this below), this energy-efficient home also has impressive eco-credentials: low-flow toilets, IPE wood siding, radiant floor heating, native landscaping, an EcoFire fireplace, LED lighting and more.


Like the Perilstein Residence, the Dorsey Residence was built on the site of an existing structure. In this case, the previous home was destroyed by fire and any salvageable materials were recycled.


Dorsey residence
Dorsey residence dorsey residence

The most meaningful aspect of the Dorsey Residence, however, is its back-story. Owner Earl Dorsey’s wife, Dora, was on board American Airlines Flight 77 during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Although Dora perished along with 189 other passengers when the hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, a note that she had written to Earl asking him to take care of their two children, miraculously survived the crash.


In 2004, Los Angeles-based Dorsey purchased a home on Bainbridge Island as a quiet, secluded getaway for him and his children. However, tragedy struck again in 2007, when the home was destroyed by a fire. Instead of giving up, Dorsey decided to rebuild.


This passage from an article passed along to me by Coates Design detailing the relationship between Earl Dorsey and his home beautifully sums things up:

Like many of us, Earl Dorsey has erected some walls around himself over the years. And with good reason. Earl has seen his share of tragedy. 
Unlike many of us, Earl also has built a real wall around himself. The 20-foot tall, 16-inch thick insulated concrete structure — which actually extends another 10 feet into the ground — is the first thing you notice when you arrive at Earl’s newly rebuilt home on the west side of Bainbridge Island.
It’s big, imposing and sends a clear message. But as with Earl, dig a little deeper past the exterior and things are a bit more complex. There’s still a sense of mystery, of guardedness, but there’s also plenty of warmth and peacefulness.


Click here for more information about other Coates Design projects.


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Coates Design Architects to host dual green home tours
Two very different but very green homes from Coates Design Architects, one airy and art-filled and the other deeply symbolic, will be open for public tours on