Window to the World

High atop Red Mountain, the Weir family enjoys breathtaking views and private family life.

by Mary Ellen Stancill
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Many lucky Birmingham homes offer amazing views, but it’s hard to argue that a sight could be better than the one from the living room shared by Amanda Adams and Paul Weir, and their eight-year-old son, Paul II. A wall of unobstructed glass that runs the length of the back of the house frames a panoramic scene of Jones Valley. From soaring downtown buildings to airplanes landing at the airport, you can pretty much see it all from their perch atop Red Mountain.
The couple’s initial requests to architect Alex Krumdieck who designed the home were pretty straightforward. “We told him we wanted total maximization of the view, and we wanted a contemporary house,” recalls Amanda. They were drawn to architecture along the Florida coast, because as Amanda explains, “A lot of houses in Florida are contemporary with a lot of glass because of the beach.”
In fact, the view was so important that Amanda laughs as she says, “We didn’t care what it looked like on the front … We said make it a German bunker if you want to because we’re never going to be looking out at the street.”
But Alex knew that the front of the home had to provide privacy and be impressive in its own way, to allow visitors to anticipate the incredible vista beyond the front door. With a deeply sloping lot, the design became “almost a reinterpretation of a medieval castle,” says Alex. “The view of the city is their court.”
The front of the house features a tiled wall that breaks up the stark, stucco rectangular structure. A pair of slim windows allows you to see straight through as you approach the house and glimpse what will soon be revealed in full, and the massive wood front door opens to a small foyer. All of these elements build the anticipation for the breathtaking scene hidden within.
Inside, the house is divided into two distinct sections, the public living space made up of a combined kitchen, dining area and living room and the more private master suite and downstairs bedrooms and den. The hallway and staircase that connect the two spaces feel as though they are floating, almost like a drawbridge. “We wanted to emphasize the movement from the public realm to the private realm,” said Alex. “That’s why we made it so dramatic.”
The hallway even has a few openings and drop offs that make you wonder: How did they have a crawling, toddling baby in this home?
“We moved into the house in March 2003 when Paul was six months old,” explains Amanda. Though she doesn’t recommend an overlapping nine-month dream home build with a pregnancy, they made the floor plan work with lots of attentive parenting and gates to block the hallway. Now that Paul is elementary school age, the house is more conducive to inviting company over to play—though excited little boys who first see the wide-open space sometimes have to be reminded not to run towards the glass. “You forget when you live here, but it is so different from other people’s houses,” says Amanda.
Also, now that Paul II is older, Amanda and Paul enjoy displaying more of their collections, including pottery and artwork gathered on trips to Santa Fe, New Mexico and Canada. They also have pieces by local artists and artwork inherited from Amanda’s mother. To celebrate a recent wedding anniversary, Amanda and Paul purchased Stickley dining room chairs to complement their existing table. The family is avid readers and stacks of books found around most every corner, add to the warmth of the home. Amanda’s career is even in the book business. She owns a publishing company, Palladium Publishing, with her father, while Paul is a psychiatrist.
But, the home really hasn’t changed much since it was completed nearly a decade ago—a testament to the initial investment in good design and materials. Next-door neighbor and design expert Tim Burt says, “You have to be the most careful when you’re working in a home like this to keep it clean and almost watch yourself at the door as you bring things in because that’s what can ruin it,” he explains. “When the architecture and the design are this good you don’t want to mess it up. It’s a work of art.”

Leave a Reply