The exterior façade of this townhouse on Seaside’s Ruskin Place uses a Roman triumphal arch motif surmounted by an arcade of three oversize arched windows. The ground floor houses commercial space, while the main living areas are on the second-floor piano nobile, simultaneously removed from and intimately connected to the urban context of the street. Hand-troweled stucco and a Tuscan-columned portico evoke the traditional townhouses that define the piazzas of Italy.
A single axis links all of the rooms on the second floor. Renaissance artist Ghirlandaio’s painting of Birth of Mary inspired a monumental staircase of simplified columns capped by a curving, painted-wood banister. In addition to providing circulation through the interior to the private bedrooms on the third level, the staircase acts as a stage set for family drama. Light entering from an oversize skylight highlights the stair details.