The listing: 3150 Travers Ave., West Vancouver
Asking Price: $12,900,000
Taxes: $25,212.69 (2017)
Lot Size: 50 by 175 feet
Agents: Jamie MacDougall and Jay Barré (Engel & Volkers)
The back story
Over the past few decades, architect Brad Lamoureux has had a unique view of the transformation of West Vancouver.
The founder of Lamoureux Architect Inc. has taken on many projects in the enclave that was once a summer haven on the opposite shore of Burrard Inlet from the city of Vancouver.
“In the old days, people used to row across the inlet and put stones down” to lay claim to a spot for a cabin, Mr. Lamoureux says.
Residents who built summer homes on the edge of English Bay in the 1920s and 1930s travelled back and forth by ferry until 1938, when the newly built Lions Gate Bridge connected the north shore to the city.
As land soared in value over time, many buyers purchased the older West Vancouver dwellings for their desirable lots. Larger houses replaced the rustic cabins and cottages and new sub-divisions were developed.
Two of Mr. Lamoureux’s clients were Gerry and Lesley Barré, who hired the architect to design a house in American Craftsman style on a hillside in West Bay. The couple were not long settled into the home a few blocks from the water when Mr. Barré learned that an oceanfront property nearby had arrived on the market.
Ms. Barré was away for a few days but Mr. Barré knew he would have to act fast to purchase a stretch of rocky shoreline.
When he wasn’t able to reach his wife, he went ahead and tabled an offer.
“I was a little nervous about that,” Mr. Barré admits.
It turned out Ms. Barré was happy with the move, however, and the deal went through.
The couple once again called on Mr. Lamoureux and builder Mike Pascuzzi. The Barrés figured they would largely recreate the house they had completed only a couple of years earlier.
But when the architect visited the site, he envisioned a much different design.
The Barré’s previous house was built into a hill that rose from street level, he explains. In this case, the street was at the top of a lot that sloped down to the sea.
“This property was the opposite – it was top down,” Mr. Lamoureux says.
He persuaded the clients to adopt a plan that would take full advantage of the dramatic perch.
“They like a more traditional home but they were willing to lean towards a more contemporary interpretation,” Mr. Lamoureux says.
“I trusted him,” Mr. Barré says.
The house today
Mr. Lamoureux has embraced diverse styles since he earned his master in architecture at Harvard University.
“As architects, we’re really looking at ideas from new and old alike,” he says. “We’re slightly more style diverse and we’re more interested in that diversity than some architects would be.”
For the Barré residence, he looked to Pasadena, Calif., where, in the early 20th century, the influential firm of Greene and Greene designed residences that became landmarks of the Arts and Crafts style.
The Barrés asked for guest bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms for their two grown children and grandchildren. They also wanted a less formal arrangement of rooms compared with their previous residence.
“The biggest thing was to take advantage of the views, which are ever-changing,” Mr. Barré says.
With that in mind, Mr. Lamoureux created a three-storey house with four bedrooms and five bathrooms in 4,723 square feet of living space.
The house took about 20 months to build and was finished in 2002. It sits on a stone plinth with a series of pavilions on top. The three distinct levels of wood, glass and copper above are a contemporary interpretation of Arts and Crafts, the architect says.
“This is a building which lives and dies on details,” he says.
The building gives a sense of solidity and strength, Mr. Lamoureux adds, with the porches and highly articulated details such as the rafters creating a feeling of human scale. He aimed to avoid the risk of having the house appear too tall.
“You have a stepping back of the scale of the building.”
Mr. Lamoureux says the low sloping roofs that were hallmarks of the Pasadena style are particularly suitable because of the height restrictions in place in West Vancouver.
Looking back at the house from the shore, the residents see the strong details of the roof structure, as well as the posts, beams and rafters, he points out.
“The very expressed skeletal structure becomes the aesthetic for the house.”
The design also preserves vistas of the shore and the Pacific Ocean beyond for the Barrés while sheltering them from the homes on either side.
“By having lots of porches and balconies that are covered, you create a further degree of privacy from the neighbours,” he says.
The roofs and their strong overhangs also benefit the interior because they shield the glass from strong sun from the south and southwest.
Inside, guests arrive to a foyer with a large skylight above and a view towards the ocean.
“It almost feels like a cruise ship when you first come in,” Ms. Barré says.
The master bedroom on the upper level has a cathedral ceiling, a fireplace and doors opening to a covered balcony. The ensuite bathroom has a large soaker tub and a walk-in steam shower.
Mr. Lamoureux extended the hardwood from the bedroom to the balcony outside.
“The idea was to make it feel like you were on a boat,” he says.
The main living area below combines a kitchen, a semi-formal dining area and a lounging area with a stone fireplace. Doors lead to a large terrace with an outdoor kitchen and barbecue.
The kitchen built of cherry wood is another nod to Pasadena style, says the architect, but the woodwork and trim throughout the house is painted white to keep the space feeling bright.
Outside, Mr. Lamoureux says, the Barrés can choose to sit in shade or move to a deck in full sun.
The lower deck has a Jacuzzi tub and stairs leading down to a beachside terrace.
The water reaches the lower deck when the tide comes in, Ms. Barré says.
“It really feels like you’re on the water.”
The best feature
Ms. Barré favours the view from the terrace outside the great room.
“It’s just the most wonderful place to sit,” she says.
The couple likes to watch large cruise ships sail past.
They also see bald eagles, plenty of seals and otters and the occasional breaching whale, Mr. Barré says.
Mr. Lamoureux says the terrace was designed to feel like an extension of the interior. The roof creates an added level of comfort, he explains.
“You think you’re in an outdoor room beside the sea.”
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