The Lure of the Land Inspires William Duff Architects

William Duff Architects (WDA) is sought-after by discerning residential clients attracted to the firm’s well-honed design philosophy of creating a unique sense of place. “For our residential clients, the lure of the land—whether an urban lot, a suburban parcel or rural acreage—is personal,” observes WDA residential practice leader, Jim Westover, AIA, LEED AP. He continues, “Our architectural and design response is always in harmony with the land and reinforces the connection between people and nature.”

Highlights of WDA’s residential portfolio include the following commissions:

Butterfly House: Organized around a courtyard, this residence provides a modern, yet comfortable, place for gatherings. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House: The generously-sized family room features accordion glass walls that fully open to the expansive back yard. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House: Designed to be flush, the white oak planks of the interior floors and Ipe wood courtyard decking provide easy flow between interior and exterior spaces. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House – Childhood memories of courtyard houses in India and the vernacular architecture of Ireland inspired a mixed-heritage couple’s creative wish-list for this suburban residence. Elaborating on the design concept, WDA founder William Duff says, “The big gesture is the courtyard, which fosters a sense of community, and we maximized the relationship to the land through landscaping to create a feeling of expansiveness.”

Butterfly House: The butterfly roof gives the house its distinctive form and creates soaring spaces on the upper level. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House: The glass wall fronting the steel and wood stair rises three levels from the basement level, through the main and upper levels of the house, while framing views of a side yard. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House: Glass-encased on two sides, the central stair makes traveling between the house’s three levels a dynamic experience. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House: The open floor plan provides access to the central courtyard from all the public spaces of the house. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Golden Oak Residence – Set on bucolic land with sweeping views of the San Francisco Peninsula, this house was designed as a place for retreat and rejuvenation, and William Duff adds, “Through architecture and design, we created an integrated experience that echoes the natural beauty of the hilltop site.”

Butterfly House: Outdoor rooms, including a seating area surrounding the fire pit, and a gazebo, provide abundant opportunities for communing with nature. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Butterfly House: The butterfly roof and and its asymmetrical wing span give this three-level house distinction, expression and energy. Photo credit: Matthew Millman

Golden Oak Residence features a dramatic butterfly roof, a Le Corbusier hallmark of post-war American residential architecture. Photo credit: Cesar Rubio

Golden Oak Residence: Koa wood cabinetry, and the framed, green hues of the lush landscape beyond, warm up the kitchen. Photo credit: Cesar Rubio

Golden Oak Residence: WDA designed this butterfly roof to bring light, ventilation and views to the house’s public spaces, such as this great room. Photo credit: Cesar Rubio

Wheeler Residence – Designed and built to reflect the homeowners’ commitment to sustainability, this house was inspired by the husband’s childhood memories of living in Colorado. William Duff, who also grew up in Colorado, and understands the state’s outdoor appeal, notes, “For this commission, we sought to capture the essence of a mountainous state like Colorado and all that it has to offer—nature, vistas and a seemingly never-ending big sky.”

Golden Oak Residence: To optimally site the house on the land, WDA conducted sun, wind and view studies. Photo credit: Cesar Rubio

Golden Oak Residence: Set on bucolic land, Golden Oak Residence provides a relaxing and rejuvenating experience of spaciousness, natural light and sweeping views. Photo credit: Cesar Rubio

Wheeler Residence: This sustainably-built contemporary residence features durable, yet low-maintenance materials such as Fin-Ply resin panels, COR-TEN steel and stained fly-ash concrete, as well as energy-saving features such as hydronic floor heating, solar hot water and photovoltaic power. Photo credit: Lucas Fladzinski

Wheeler Residence blends the vast expansiveness of “big sky country” with verdant landscape. Photo credit: Lucas Fladzinski

Wheeler Residence: Working with the rest of the project team – Baywest, Julia Y. Chen Design, Revolver and SEAM Studios – WDA created a luxurious “green house” for modern living. Photo credit: Lucas Fladzinski

For Jim Westover, whose versatile career in architecture began at the College of Environmental Design at University of California at Berkeley, WDA’s wide-ranging portfolio is, ultimately, all about people. He notes, “Our residential commissions blend profound emotional connections, sometimes lasting a lifetime, to places rooted in the land.”

Wheeler Residence: Natural daylighting of interior spaces is integral to WDA’s design approach. Photo credit: Lucas Fladzinski

About William Duff Architects (WDA) @wdarch_inc

Founded in 1998 and located in San Francisco, WDA finds inspiration in both the talented people who live and work in San Francisco and the region’s embrace of sustainability. The firm’s commitment to a culture that fosters curiosity, collaboration, and innovation drives its success in projects across its residential, retail, and commercial practices. WDA is proud to be among the region’s “Best Places to Work,” as recognized by the San Francisco Business Times.

William S. Duff, Jr., AIA, founded WDA in 1998 based on his belief that architecture can shape environments and improve communities. He also believes that personal service strengthens ties to one’s neighborhoods and communities.

His pro bono work as past President of the Board of Directors of Young Audiences of Northern California and past President of the Board of Directors of Napa’s diRosa Center for Contemporary Art reflects his commitment to championing art as a way to reflect values of access, diversity and inclusion.

William received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and his Master in Construction Management from Colorado State University. In addition to NCARB and LEED certifications, William holds architecture licenses in five states (CA, CO, AZ, OR, WI). He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the U.S. Green Building Council, and has served on the Marina Del Rey Design Control Board.

Jim Westover provides direct oversight for WDA’s residential practice, as partner and principal. With a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley, Jim is a California state licensed architect, a LEED accredited professional and has over 30 years of experience in architecture and interiors.

Prior to joining WDA, Jim had his own practice focusing on residential projects, preceded by 17 years as an associate and senior project manager at FME Architecture + Design in San Francisco, where he managed a variety of projects, including corporate campuses, churches, schools, gymnasiums, and private residences. For seven years, he served as the pro bono Project Architect for the renovation of San Francisco’s Lincoln Park Steps.