Project: Waterfront Pavilion

At the end of a long, lower-floor hallway, a dramatic view of exposed rock connects the home to its surroundings.

Designed to disappear into its surroundings, this 12,000-square-foot home features a partial green roof.

The design team conducted sun studies to pre-determine the quality of light that would pass through the glass pavilion skylight.

The sky is not the limit for Garret Werner’s nestled-in-nature Waterfront Pavilion, a home with stunning attributes that arise from the constraints of the property’s extreme terrain. When the owners purchased this rocky outcrop of land off a stretch of coastline between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, it was home to a rundown 1950s shack set back into the forested plot. Casting his doubts about the feasibility of the site aside, Werner—the founder of Seattle-based firm Garret Cord Werner Architects and Interior Designers—took on the challenge with an ambitious vision to build a Bond-worthy retreat perched above the Pacific Ocean.


The resulting home’s 12,000 square feet of modern living space includes an open-plan upper floor and a primary suite, five guest bedrooms, craft room, media room, bar, and viewing room all built into the blasted rock below. The structure is Werner’s most elaborate home to date, a claim made credible by the subterranean, eight-car stacking garage that connects the home to a detached carport. The home’s namesake feature is the glass pavilion centered above the top-floor living space. “This grand pavilion is a rare thing to see in a house,” Werner explains. “It takes that great room concept to a whole new level.”


From a bird’s-eye view, the home blends in with the plot’s native cedar, pine, spruce, and evergreen trees, thanks to a green roof that partially covers the above-ground footprint. Emphasizing nature, around and from within the home, was a priority for Werner, whose meticulous and detail-oriented design is inspired by Japanese architecture and 1950s Palm Springs.

From above, the pavilion and green roofs over the main house and garage camouflage the buildings, giving them the effect of a buried landscape.

Encompassing the kitchen, dining, and living spaces, the grand great room features an abundance of windows and glass walls that bring the outside in.

Pared back materials like steel, wood, and concrete accentuate the home’s architectural elements.


A concrete bridge over a reflection pond leads to the home’s front door, which opens to a modern interior outfitted with wood, concrete, and steel, and 180-degree views of the Strait of Georgia. The backyard’s infinity pool showcases the site’s steep, cliffside terrain. “That kind of atmosphere is almost impossible to find,” Werner says.


Careful blasting of the site’s exposed rock preserved as much of the surrounding forest as possible. When you’re designing a site-specific home, Werner explains, “you have to wait until the site is blasted to see what’s left of the rock outcroppings and then massage the plan around it a bit.” With an exacting eye, Werner repositioned his original designs against the freshly revealed natural features. The front door was centered to frame the vertical crack on a large boulder directly across from it; the primary bathroom’s freestanding tub soaks up views of the surrounding forest, with a towering cedar that appears aligned through the center of the tub as you approach the bathroom; a glimpse of exposed rock is a dramatic endpoint to a long second-level hallway. Moving through the home, one’s attention flows from forest to water to rock. “It’s walking the line between the house seeming to disappear, and then reappear,” Werner explains. He fought to keep a single angular pine outside the primary bedroom. It wasn’t until the clients saw it with the finished building that they understood his vision.


“I always want there to be something beautiful to look at,” Werner says. “It could be a piece of art. It could be a bathtub, a tree, a pool. Features like this give us something to think about, and that creates such a powerful statement in any home.”

The interior rock outcroppings are reminiscent of 1950s architecture in Palm Springs, a favorite design reference for designer Garret Werner.


Publication – Gray Magazine
Published – 2024