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Octagonal Mill Valley house returns with price cut, asks $2 million

Architect Bill Cullen calls tri-level home a testament to geometry

A house consisting of three octagonal tiers climbing up a hillside. Photo courtesy of Cathy Youngling/Matt Hughes

From the outside, architect Bill Cullen’s tri-level, eight-sided hillside house in Mill Valley may resemble a string of pillars, a series of escalating pedestals, or maybe the setup for a gigantic game of three dimensional chess.

But back in 2011 Cullen, who owned the hillside house on top of designing it, had a more aspirational take on its escalating eminence. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Cullen posted signage on the property declaring:

"By geometry we trace the beauties of nature. By it we discover how the universe evolved."

The three bed, four bath, roughly 3,000 square foot house at 239 12 Cleveland Avenue in Mill Valley, is essentially a series of three rising octagonal tiers on a rectangular plot.

Photo courtesy of Cathy Youngling/Matt Hughes

This place last came to market in summer of 2016, offering its geometric charms for $2.15 million, but it didn’t attract a buyer with the proper degree of interest—or maybe just never approached its sale pitch from the proper angle.

Since by definition you can’t keep a hillside house down, it’s back on offer (but not on the MLS) now with a slight discount since summer: $2 million even, a conveniently round figure for an eight-sided home.

In addition to its angular dispositions, the new advertising for 239 12 Cleveland plays up the koi pond that floods the entryway, the rooftop terraces and gardens atop each of the three rising podiums, and the “Jetsons”-like pneumatic tube elevator that joins all of the levels together.

Last year’s listing suggested “a harmonious Zen quality” to the home. Note that architect Cullen indulged his affection for geometry in the interiors as well, with the likes of hexagrams and other mathematical markings inscribed on the living room floor.

Cullen actually chose a markedly crooked place to build his tribute to even planes and straight lines: The lot has both a down slope and a cross slope that the builders had to reckon with. A levelheaded approach to an uneven grade.