No. 11 . 26 July 2000 
ArchWeek PhotoArchWeek Photo

Inspired by Gaudi, Built by Hand

by Ted Katauskas

Sitting in Beth and Will Hathaway's family room in Portland, Oregon, I'm amazed that there's more than a hundred tons of concrete and dirt hanging over my head. The south-facing room, the focal point of the house, is bathed in light. So much daylight filters through four floor-to-curved-ceiling windows and two skylight domes, that I can comfortably pour over a puzzling array of structural contours on a blueprint even though no electric lamps are lit and it's drizzling outside.

The Hathaways, sipping herbal tea, take turns explaining how they designed and built their concrete home--half underground, all light and curves--over the course of more than a dozen years. Taking in everything they've accomplished, I have to remind myself that Beth and Will Hathaway aren't architects or professional builders. They're artists who shared a vision and created a masterpiece, which happens to be their home.

It all began on a beach in Carmel, California, during their honeymoon in 1966, when the newlyweds found themselves shaping piles of wet sand into ethereal elevations with rooflines that undulated like waves, inspired by their favorite architect, the Spanish master of the avant-garde, Antonio Gaudi.

From that point on, there were two givens: Will and Beth Hathaway were going to build a house, and it wasn't going to look like anything anyone had ever seen before.

"It would be hard to do this in your typical Arts-and-Crafts-style bungalow," observes Will, an industrial designer who recently retired as the director of the Multnomah Arts Center. He rounds his back into the horseshoe-shaped archway between the kitchen and family room in a luxurious demonstration of his affinity for curves. "The whole structure wants to caress you. This is a sculpture, this is a living form."  




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