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Contemporary Cabin


Contemporary Cabin, a 2014 AIA East Bay Home Tours house
Completed: 1930s
Renovated: 2013
Architect: John Quiter, AIA
Photographer: John Quiter, AIA


This small home in the Berkeley Hills is an extensive remodel of a 1930s artist’s studio and is a study in craftsmanship by an owner-architect and son-builder.  The family team continued the local tradition of design-build craftsmanship harking back to Maybeck, with obvious respect for the site and for the primary materials of concrete, wood and metal. Architect John Quiter, AIA and his wife purchased the property in 2004 with an eye toward restoring the studio, which had undergone a series of awkward renovations. During the next few years, their sons lived there and became familiar with the views, the site and the neighborhood. When John retired from his Los Angeles architecture practice, he and his son Aron embarked on the collaborative design-build effort which would launch Aron’s construction business and create the Quiter’s retirement home. To accommodate the small lot and achieve the desired spaces, Quiter re-shaped the studio’s footprint and capped it with a simple sloping roof that drops politely out of the way of neighbors’ view corridors and also collects rainwater for the landscaping – just one of the many clever strategies used in the goal of attaining a LEED Platinum rating. The original studio was dismantled piece by piece in order to reuse as much of the original construction material as possible, such as the richly textured, salvaged redwood and fir in the three-story stairway wall. The house extends upward from its flyash concrete base, through delicately detailed wood walls and folding glass doors, up to a sleeping loft and a series of large windows that bring Bay views and the nearby oak tree canopy deep into the home.

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