Flexible House


Originally located in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood, the Flexible House (1963) was built as an experiment in residential living by its owner/architect, Robert Allan Adams. The 1,000 square foot house and 350 square foot guest house were designed to accommodate his family and adapt to their needs as they changed through early marriage years, child-rearing, and on to retirement. Interior partitions, storage units, and ceiling and floor panels are movable, allowing for a versatile use of the space without adding square footage.

Docomomo WEWA was alerted to the Flexible House’s endangered status in mid-December 2005, when it was listed for sale on Craig’s List by former renter, Stephen Busto, who is an architect who appreciated the uniqueness of the house. No longer owned by the original family for years, the current property owner, Dr. Kingman Ho, plans to build another house on the site, requiring the land to be cleared to prepare for construction. A deadline to have the house moved by any interested buyer was set for January 1, 2006. The timing was bad given the holiday season. Working with a short timeframe, Docomomo_Wewa decided the best strategy was to get the word out about the Flexible House’s endangered status. We emailed our contact list, which generated concern and interest from individuals and organizations about the fate of the house.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a front page article in its December 23, 2005 issue and the New York Times featured it in an article about preserving mid-century Modern homes. The publicity brought great interest in the house and potential buyers from all over Puget Sound inquired about saving it. The show of interest bought some crucial time for the house and the owner agreed to extend the deadline for moving the structures to the end of February. SeattleModern.com’s Tom Holst was instrumental in finding the right buyer for the house. By the end of January, the house was sold to Tom and Katie Shuler for one dollar. The Shulers arranged to have the house and guest house dismantled in mid-February and moved the pieces to their 2.5 acre property in the community of Vaughn, near Gig Harbor. Plans are to reassemble the pieces on its new site where the two structures will be connected and used as a home and artist’s studio.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer followed the story to its happy ending and published a follow-up article and an editorial piece. Due to the combined efforts of many people, the Flexible House will be SAVED!

Rear Studio, Flexible House, Seattle (1963)<br>
Main Dwelling, Flexible House, Seattle (1963)<br>
Corner Detail, Flexible House, Seattle (1963)<br>Photo courtesy of DAHP.
Living Room, Flexible House, Seattle (1963)<br>
Rear Studio, Flexible House, Seattle (1963)