Posts tagged with "Residential Architecture":

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Worrell Yeung anchors a sprawling loft with two inserted volumes

New Yorkers are accustomed to living and working in tight quarters. Yet, the city has an ample offering of former industrial buildings that have been adapted into residences and offices. But as in any historic SoHo or Tribeca loft, the challenge has always been to make the best use of expansive floor plates and double-height ceilings. Introducing split-levels, rooms-within-rooms, and even segmenting these massive spaces into separate units has often done the trick, alleviating the ebbs and flows of economic pressure but also achieving a level of domestic harmony. Tasked with the renovation of a sprawling 3,200 square-foot loft in DUMBO, Brooklyn's landmarked Clocktower Building, emerging practice Worrell Yeung devised a scheme that makes use of two central volumes. Delineating open-plan rooms on either side of the full-floor apartment, these two wooden-clad inserts contain most of the apartment's amenities: bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, and a wet bar. As a hub for the space, these two Russian Doll-eques elements help frame open living space and four panoramic exposures. Opening up like a cabinet, the two white oak-paneled, vertical raked-pattern volumes conceal and reveal various elements including a "moment of pause" elevator foyer, cast in dark minimal materials and taut details. Marble accents found in this alcove carry through to the second volume's kitchen counter insert, which is extended by a perfectly flush and monolith island. The vastly more private volumes reveal intimate chambers with clever details like a semi-translucent shower wall visible in one of the bedrooms. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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The mid-century fairy tales of Cinderella Homes

The Cinderella Homes of Jean Vandruff: Fairy Tale Tracts in the Suburbs By Chris Lukather $35.00 “Men are forever guests in the home no matter how much happiness they may find there,” famously stated Elsie de Wolfe, the American interior decorator often credited with founding interior design as a profession. In the early 20th century, de Wolfe’s thoughts on the importance of decoration established a framework that empowered women to consider how domestic interiors shaped and reflected feminine identity, both socially and psychologically. She believed that while men may build and decorate the house, it’s the woman’s personality that will always shine through—it’s the woman who makes a house a home.  A new book by California-based writer and publisher Chris Lukather, The Cinderella Homes of Jean Vandruff: Fairy Tale Tracts in the Suburbs, explores this complex relationship between women and domestic architecture. It tells the story of how one man, Jean Vandruff, dedicated his life to designing homes conceived around atomic age fantasies about housewives, who the homes’ advertisements called “modern Cinderellas.” The book echoes de Wolfe’s sentiment while painting a picture of the dramatic changes women began to face, both in the home and out, as the country progressed through the Great Depression, the Second World War, the growth of the American middle class, and, most importantly, the mass migration to the suburbs In 1954, seven years after the first Levittown, and many before Disneyland came to Southern California, Vandruff started designing and building communities of “storybook” tract homes in the image of a midcentury modern fairy tale. While typical tract developments were filling out landscapes across the country, they just as quickly entered the popular imagination, as, in the words of Malvina Reynolds’s 1962 song, “little boxes made of ticky tacky…little boxes all the same.”  In a catalog for the 2001–2002 exhibition held at the Brooklyn Museum, Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, the postwar single-family home was romanticized as, “a fairy-tale castle hidden away under a magic spell in a wilderness of identical streets curving past a series of identical, partially prefabricated wooden boxes.” Vandruff’s Cinderella Homes embraced this idealized notion of fairy-tale living but offered an alternative to the ubiquitous box housing that was popping up all over California. He designed ranch-style homes that didn’t shy away from color, ornamentation, or custom craftsmanship, all for a competitive price, and people camped out overnight to secure a model. Lukather’s book is the first to take a look at these homes through an in-depth collection of oral histories with the Vandruff family, Cinderella homeowners and realtors, as well as interviews and essays by Vandruff, who, at 96, is still thriving and telling tales by going door-to-door preaching the history of the 6,000 homes he created across California, Kansas, and Texas between 1950 and 1962.  The book is richly illustrated with original photographs, floorplans, and advertisements exhibiting the many variations of the ranch homes, which set Cinderellas apart from prefab war housing and other experiments of the time (Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study House Program ran contemporaneously from 1945 to 1966). “I detested modern architecture in homes…so cold, rigid, simplistic, blah!” Vandruff wrote in a manifestolike list of key Cinderella features. “Architects hated Cinderellas,” he said.  Cinderellas featured high gabled entryways, large overhangs, Victorian gingerbread trim, and diamond-shaped windows with cartoonish, scalloped frames. Perhaps the most striking features of the original homes were their shake-shingle roofs and custom stone and brickwork, which flowed into the interior where a massive fireplace “anchored” the home. Vandruff cites traditional Swedish and Austrian homes as sources of ornamental inspiration.  The story of the Cinderella Home illuminates an era of U.S. history characterized by abundant self-indulgence and escapist material culture, an era when the home entered the consumer sphere as a mass-market commodity just like the automobile or the television set (which soon began to dictate the organization of a living room more so than the home builder themselves). It’s fitting that the first home opened in 1954 in Downey, California, where the first McDonald’s franchise opened a year prior.  The book displays a list of 50 architectural features originally printed in the Downey development’s brochures. Number 32 reads: “TV viewing directly from kitchens!” While the houses didn't have completely open plans, each Cinderella kitchen had a large window that looked out into the living quarters. The design feature was also heavily advertised for its other purpose: to maximize visual and verbal communication between wives and their husbands and children. For Vandruff, this was the most important design issue of all.  “This was key to a happy home. A kitchen-isolated wife is an unhappy wife…likely producing an unhappy family,” he wrote. “My constant thought was for the woman, the home-maker. Everything must be done to make her a fulfilled success.” It was, in fact, his wife Eleanor Vandruff, a former beauty queen, singer, and popular radio personality, who came up with the name Cinderella after she saw one of the first drawings and thought it to be fit for a princess.  Vandruff believed that setting women up for success (and, in turn, setting up the husband for success) meant creating spaces that appeared open and light-filled. In some models, you could stand in the front entryway and see all the way through to the back of the house. Vandruff wrote, “Wall mirrors and big clean windows added ‘space’ to any room, making it the opposite of a jail cell or dungeon,” a sentiment that anticipated the attitudes and feelings toward the home that would be put into words a few years later in Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique from 1963, which dissected the psychology of the suburban housewife and ushered in the age of second-wave feminism.  Perhaps before Friedan’s book, women’s unhappiness with household drudgery was rarely discussed—it was “the problem that had no name.” But no one wants an unhappy wife. As Vandruff explained in his interview with the author, “I wanted to make a home for the woman of the household, since she spent the most time there…if she is happy, the home is probably happy…then you’re probably going to be happy too.” We now know that personal fulfillment for women involves far more than being able to watch TV while cleaning the kitchen. It is hard to theorize what life was actually like for the housewife in a Cinderella Home, as the book failed to include a single account of a female homemaker who occupied one of the tracts in such fraught times or even an account of a female homeowner today. While informative and aesthetically pleasing, the book, like the homes, was crafted entirely from a male perspective with the wife in mind—but how much was she involved?  That’s not to discredit Lukather’s important addition to the history of the rise of suburban life and the fantasy of the American Dream. Cinderella Homes, just as much as Levittown, embody postwar U.S. culture in all of its complexities—of course, the book wouldn't be complete without a chapter dedicated to Jean Vandruff’s years in the Air Force.  But just like the era itself, it’s hard not to think about something darker going on beneath the surface. Marshall Vandruff, Jean Vandruff’s son, fondly recalled memories of growing up in a Cinderella tract neighborhood and becoming “dangerously nostalgic” upon revisiting it for the book. In a way, the entire book is dangerously nostalgic. Lukather wants to tell the story of playful design, happy families, material abundance, and optimism, but only through the insight of the men who built and continue to surround themselves with the homes. What’s given less importance in the book is the atmosphere outside the home: the threat of nuclear danger, the ideological dynamic of the cold war, the uneven distribution of wealth, and rampant racism and sexism. The Cinderella Home lives magically outside of such realities. There is simply no room for those very real anxieties in the story’s fantastical fairy tale.  Leilah Stone is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor.
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Last home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will be auctioned off

As impossible as it may sound, Frank Lloyd Wright is credited as the architect of over 532 structures throughout the world. His refusal to retire, even at the end of his life at 91, led to the design of some of his most beloved works, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Price Tower, and the Marin County Civic Center. On September 19, it was announced that a sale through Heritage Auctions will be held for the Norman Lykes House, the very last building Wright ever designed. On a rocky desert bluff at the edge of Arizona’s Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the Norman Lykes House—also known as the Circular Sun House—represents a culmination of so many of Wright’s signature design gestures: it is airy and curvilinear like his later works, yet it is also long and low to the ground akin to his earlier Prairie homes. It is reportedly only one of fourteen circular homes the architect designed, and might be the only one to feature a crescent-shaped pool enclosed by a cylindrical wall punctured by circles. Smooth concrete blocks and built-in handcrafted Philippine mahogany furniture constitutes the majority of the home’s material palette. “It's not just that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright home that makes it sellable,” said Jack Luciano, a partner with the Heritage Agency, “but that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is livable." Wright designed the home in 1959 for clients Norman and Amy Lykes, and his apprentice John Rattenbury was appointed to oversee the project during its eight years of construction. In 1994, Rattenbury was invited back to the home to oversee major changes, including the enlargement of the master bedroom (which reduced the number of bedrooms from five to three) and the conversion of its former workshop into a home theatre. Though there will be no minimum bid set on the property, it is expected to exceed its most recent purchase of $2.6 million. The winner of the 3,100-square-foot home will also receive all of Wright’s furniture currently on the property. “We want to make sure the person that buys this house maintains the integrity of the home, remodels it, keeps it and loves it just like the former two owners have,” said Luciano. Interested buyers and agents can attend the auction within the home on October 16.
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Want to own a house designed by a renowned architect? Here are seven options currently on the market

While summer may be drawing to a close, daydreaming about beautiful houses has no season. For those who are particularly discriminating about architecture, and who happen to be in the market for a multi-million-dollar listing, there are plenty of options to run through. AN has rounded up seven houses designed by nationally and internationally renowned architects that are for sale right now. Do some window shopping below:

Marcel Breuer’s Gargarin House I Litchfield, CT

Between 1956 and 1957, the celebrated Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, whose masterpieces include New York’s Met Breuer museum (formerly the Whitney), designed a stunning home for Andrew and Jamie Gargarin in Litchfield, Connecticut. Sitting on 1.7 acres of gently sloping land, the low-slung house was constructed with steel, reinforced concrete, stone, and glass. Its styling is decidedly modern both inside and out, with materials and vistas that are sure to please any buyer with money to spare.

Perhaps the most unique feature in the Gargarin House I is the bush-hammered concrete fireplace. Its irregular form rises in the middle of the glass-walled living room, providing the home with one of its only architectural elements that is not strictly rectilinear. The fireplace and the storied house it occupies can be yours for $3.8 million.

Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s Durham dream house Durham, NC

As the only house on this list priced under one million dollars (and still by only $50,000), Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s midcentury modern design in Durham, North Carolina offers a comparatively affordable option for those looking to own property crafted by a notable architect. Cogswell is best known as a residential architect with modernist proclivities. Most of his projects have been completed for private clients in North Carolina.

This particular home is 3,259 square feet with four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. Because it has only had one owner since its initial construction, the house is remarkably well preserved. Images show that many of the rooms have maintained their original wood cabinetry, while the back deck is still covered by a geometric pergola. The room that has changed most significantly is the kitchen, which underwent a complete renovation to meet twenty-first-century standards of living. Built in 1966, the home sits on 2.33 acres and is listed for $950,000.

Steven Holl-designed Catskills getaway Middleburgh, NY

Nestled in a heavily wooded area in New York’s Catskills region, Steven Holl’s bright red “Y House” has hit the market for $1.6 million. The two main sections of the house (there is also a detached garage and a boathouse) branch off from one another to form the shape of the letter “Y”. They both terminate in outdoor spaces—balconies on the second floor and small patios on the ground floor. The roofline of the structure slopes upward toward this point, creating a volume that appears to open up to the mountain views.

Constructed in 1999, the house takes full advantage of its surroundings. From the interior, irregularly shaped windows frame the landscape in unexpected ways, while communal spaces benefit from larger, floor-to-ceiling glass. The 33-acre site also has a minimalist, glass-walled boathouse perched at the edge of a serene pond.

Richard Neutra’s midcentury masterpiece Weston, CT

In the quiet town of Weston, Connecticut, Betty Corwin is selling a house designed for her and her husband by Richard Neutra in 1955. Situated on a 4.3-acre lot above the Saugatuck River, the five-bedroom Corwin House is surrounded by mature trees and lush landscaping. With many of its original finishes still intact, including the yellow kitchen cabinetry and plenty of built-ins, the home is a particularly well-preserved example of midcentury modern residential architecture. Corwin, now in her 90’s, has made only a few changes to the kitchen appliances and bathrooms.

Perhaps best known for his extensive portfolio of house projects in California, Neutra built a number of modern residential structures throughout the mid-twentieth century. Listed at $2.7 million, the Corwin House is one of the architect’s two remaining homes in the state of Connecticut, presenting East Coast buyers with a rare chance to purchase a piece of his legacy.

Wine country stunner by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners Santa Ynez, CA

Designed by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners, this six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house sits in the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara, California. Buyers of Son Sereno will have no shortage of space, inside or out. The home itself boasts 8,000 square feet of living space, while the 116-acre lot includes an olive grove and several riding trails. The scenery surrounding the contemporary structure is characteristic of this region of California—mature oak and sycamore trees dot a landscape of rolling green hills and vineyards.

Built in 2005, the building uses a combination of stucco and stone walls to support a high, curvilinear ceiling over the main living space. There is a wealth of amenities, including an attached three-car garage, two fireplaces, and panoramic views of the valley. The asking price is currently set at $7,900,000.

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

As AN reported earlier this summer, Paul Rudolph’s beachside Milam Residence outside Jacksonville, Florida hit the market for $4,445,000. With a distinctive geometric facade that lends visual depth to the building, the Milam Residence presents potential buyers with the opportunity to own something that stands out in the coastal neighborhood, where most residential architecture prescribes to a more Mediterranean aesthetic. With 6,800 square feet of living space spread between the main building and a separate guest house, there is no shortage of space, either.

While Rudolph is better known for his institutional projects, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall, the Milam House is still a piece of history. Built in 1961 for the attorney Arthur Milam, the residence is being sold by the family of the original owners.

Rafael Viñoly-designed head-turner Ridgefield, CT

Rafael Viñoly’s most famous residential project may be his gleaming tower at 432 Park Avenue in New York City, but for those who prefer a more tranquil setting, a house he designed in Ridgefield, Connecticut is now on the market. Built in 1990 for Alice Lawrence, whose late husband Sylvan Lawrence was a real estate mogul in Manhattan, the house is a dramatic contemporary design composed primarily of concrete and glass. Designed for Mrs. Lawrence’s extensive art collection, the house comprises one part of a listing that includes a farmhouse next door and a total of 16 acres of land.

With three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and both indoor and outdoor pool options, the Lawrence House offers a taste of luxury to anyone who can afford its $9.8 million price tag.

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Brooks + Scarpa parts the veil with an undulating brick screen wall

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Evanston, Illinois is located over a dozen miles from the city center of Chicago, on the northern fringe of Cook County, and is bounded by Lake Michigan to the east. The city is fairly typical for the region: there is a postwar central business district surrounded by tracts of suburban housing, some clad with wood drop-siding and others with exposed brick. Completed in 2018, the Lipton Thayer Brick House by Los Angeles-and-Florida-based architectural practice Brooks + Scarpa and Chicago's Studio Dwell burst onto the scene with a twisting-brick screen backed by a Miesian glass curtain wall. The 2,500-square-foot family residence and conforms to the city-mandated suburban lot lines, with the entire outer shell composed of Chicago Common Brick. The side elevations rise sheer with limited fenestration to the east and west, while the 21-foot-tall brick skin on the north elevation breaks to partially reveal the entrance courtyard.
  • Facade Manufacturer Chicago Common Brick Vitro Accurate Metal Chicago LM Scolfield
  • Architect Brooks + Scarpa Studio Dwell
  • Facade Installer Studio Dwell
  • Structural Engineer Louis Shell Structures
  • Location Evanston, IL
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Custom steel screen Type V wood frame over Type I reinforced concrete
  • Products Chicago Common Brick Vitro Solarban 80 LM Scolfeild Lithochrome
As Chicago Common brick has not been produced for nearly four decades, the material was salvaged from past and ongoing demolitions of historic structures. It is an irregular and coarse material formerly harvested from local clay beds that were formed from the diverse deposits of retreating glaciers from the last ice age. The resulting finish—the clay is baked at a temperature of 1500-degrees Fahrenheit over the course of a few days— is inconsistent in color from brick to brick which provides a softly gradated facade. While visually complex, the design team utilized a straightforward methodology to achieve the rotating pattern. "Using ruled surface geometry, the undulating facade is formed by connecting two curves with a series of straight lines to form the surface of the facade," said Brooks + Scarpa. "This technique allowed the design team to work with complex curved forms and rationalize them into simple, cost-effective standardized components, making them easy to fabricate and efficient to install." A thin layer of mortar is located between each successive brick of the vertical columns. However, the task of keeping the masonry screen in place falls to a steel system produced by Accurate Metal Chicago. A steel rebar pipe, running from base to cornice, passes through each individual brick. Additionally, interstitially-placed steel plates are integrated with the vertical bands of rebar and brick every few courses, supplementing the screen with horizontal bracing. Past the screen wall, the courtyard is lined with rectangular, high-visibility glass curtain wall modules framed with aluminum. Sunlight from the northern exposure is filtered through the screen wall, softening the daylight that reaches the interior spaces. The rear elevation, which faces a service alley, is composed of recycled Portland cement panels stained with LITHOCHROME to achieve a light-grey finish.  
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Aston Martin will build an over-the-top luxury lair for your car

Luxury automaker Aston Martin Lagonda has unveiled a new custom design resource for car enthusiasts with big dreams and even bigger wallets. This month at Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, California, the company introduced their "Aston Martin Automotive Galleries and Lairs" service, that allows customers to work closely with the company’s designers and architects to create personalized bespoke garages for their vehicles. According to Aston Martin Lagonda’s chief creative officer Marek Reichman, the spaces will serve as more than just garages: The lairs are “A bespoke auto gallery designed by Aston Martin that either focuses on showing off the car or is part of a larger, integrated entertainment space with simulators and such like, takes Aston Martin ownership to the next level.”

The custom garage program will expand the company’s efforts to render car ownership more personal. The brand has already established "Q by Aston Martin," which enables buyers to work with representatives to create an ideal vehicle for them. The newest service, though, will be the company’s first foray into architectural services. The Galleries and Lairs project will be led by both the Aston Martin Design Team and Reichman’s own team, which has already collaborated with architects on the design of the company’s global brand center in Tokyo and several dealership interiors.

Austrian firm Obermoser arch-omo Architecture has produced visuals of what some of the galleries and lairs could look like, complete with dramatic spiraling staircases, glass walls, and water features that evoke James Bond films, the Batcave, or any supervillain’s dream hideout. Many of the concepts make use of circular motifs, including glass-enclosed turntables that can spotlight a car as the central focal point in any space. Aston Martin Lagonda suggests that the service can be used to build anything from small galleries for individual cars to entire luxury homes or collectors museums. In promoting the service, the company is emphasizing not only its collaboration with top architects but also its expertise in displaying and maintaining luxury cars.

Pricing will vary greatly depending on the size and scope of each project, but there certainly will not be any affordable options. The cheapest Aston Martin car—that's without the lair—will currently set you back $149,995. Customers interested in Aston Martin Automotive Galleries and Lairs can begin to make requests through the Aston Martin Partnership Team.

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Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence splashes onto the market

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence, located in Ponte Vedra Beach outside of Jacksonville, Florida, has hit the market for $4,445,000, according to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Built from 1959 to 1961 and situated on just over two acres of land, the property boasts 6,800 square feet of living space, a swimming pool, and a guest house separated by a central courtyard. Between the two residences, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms. Other amenities include central air-conditioning and an in-ground sprinkler system.

Perhaps the Milam Residence’s most distinctive feature is its eastern frontage, which faces the Atlantic Ocean. A series of rectangular concrete block extrusions extend outward from the houses’s windows, adding a 3D depth effect to the facade and distinguishing the building from its neighbors. The hard edges of the structure contrast markedly with the softness of the surrounding beach, helping the house stand out as a local landmark.

As Rudolph’s only building in northeastern Florida, the home has remained in the hands of the Milam family since attorney Arthur Milam originally commissioned the project in the late 1950s. At the time, Rudolph was still in the incipient stages of a career that would be defined by some of the most renowned concrete and modernist designs in the country, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall in 1963. In a move that reflects both the architect’s renown and growing interest in the preservation of modernist buildings as unique cultural artifacts, the Milam Residence was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. With an eye toward the future of the property, the Milam family is searching for a buyer who understands the home’s architectural significance and recognizes this as an opportunity not just to live by the sea, but to own a piece of history that needs to be properly cared for.

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The only house designed by Ai Weiwei is for sale

The only residence designed by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is for sale. The 4,000-square-foot complex in Ancram, New York, is about two hours north of New York City by car, and it was commissioned by a couple who loved the artist's work. In collaboration with Basel, Switzerland–based HHF Architects, Weiwei delivered the main house in 2006 and a slingshot-shaped guest house two years later. The main residence is clad in corrugated iron, and sports three bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace of the same height. The program is divided between four timber-frame boxes of equal size, but two staircases and ceilings of different heights disrupt the boxes' rigidity and promote interior fluidity. Once can find the requisite pool and fancy appliances (Boffi in the kitchen, for example). The guest house, meanwhile, is clad in Cor-ten steel and features two bedrooms and two bathrooms slotted into its curving form. White angled wall dividers break up the timber-paneled living spaces and create plenty of space for art displays. Each of the Y-shaped structure's "poles" offers a different view of the property, which covers 37 hilltop acres. According to SFgate.com, the original owners sold the house in 2013 because they didn't visit it enough. The home's current owners are selling and moving overseas. Interested buyers have to pony up the big bucks: The house is on the market for $5.25 million.
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Griffin Enright Architects’ Birch Residence tracks the sun with a jagged skylight

While curmudgeonly critics lament the return of pomo styling in architecture schools, it can be easy to forget that in Los Angeles, few architectural modes ever go fully out of style. A case in point is the Birch Residence, designed by Griffin Enright Architects (GEA), which was not specifically conceived as a deconstructivist work, but bears the movement’s expansive and explosive feel. From the street, the home’s erupting components—smooth white stucco boxes, projecting and frameless windows, and a central light well—stand out amid the surrounding suburban tract houses. Though situated on a mostly flat site, the main level, containing entertainment-focused kitchen and living areas, is elevated several steps above grade due to an underground garage. As a result, the home spreads from setback to setback, allowing for inventive uses of the tight urban lot. The home’s boxy volumes push and pull against a jagged two-story skylight that runs through the center of the building and divides its constituent parts with glass, steel, and freeform refractive panels. The slinking, canted skylight is topped with an angular shade designed to track the sun from east to west on its daily journey. A clear glass bridge bisects the light well, providing access between the two bedroom wings on the second floor. Below, splayed living spaces and a sculptural stair further accentuate the light well’s vertical orientation. According to Margaret Griffin, principal at GEA, the skylight “brings a seasonal component to the house” while also creating a promontory from which to catch views of the nearby Hollywood sign. The skylight, a tour de force of structural engineering, construction detailing, and exacting handiwork, folds down over the back facade of the house, where a single sheet of canted glass meets a polished travertine floor that spills out onto a backyard patio and reflecting pool. “We try to bring particular innovations that transform the way people live,” said Griffin, explaining the dark-colored paneling that wraps the living room ceiling as well as the main kitchen areas. “We realized that a dark ceiling makes space feel bigger than it really is, so one plane is darker to give a greater depth of space as well as a more expansive feeling to the home.”
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Los Angeles architects develop their own speculative residential projects

As real estate prices continue to climb, Los Angeles’s notoriously slow and combative building approval process shows no signs of letting up. In response, a growing set of L.A.-area architects have begun to embrace the idea of developing their own projects in-house as a way of taking charge of—and ultimately, profiting from—the production of architecture. L.A. and New York City-based FreelandBuck, for example, recently completed work on a 2,200-square-foot speculative house in L.A.’s Mount Washington neighborhood. FreelandBuck partnered with L.A.-based developer Urbanite Homes for the hillside project, which contains a rental income–producing Accessory Dwelling Unit to make the hefty price point more palatable to potential buyers. According to the architects, the development partnership provided some wiggle room on the design that might not have been possible had they been hired as conventional designers. As a result, the architects were able to take risks with materiality by wrapping the four-story building in decontextualized board-and-batten siding. The freedom extended to the interiors of the home as well, where the ground floor areas are carved up into a series of discrete and complimentary rooms. This envelope-pushing effort is mirrored nearby in the hills above Highland Park, where John Southern, principal at Urban Operations, has developed a handful of speculative single-family homes that encapsulate the architect’s form-forward design aesthetic. A 2,400-square-foot residence at 4752 Baltimore is designed around staggered floor plates in order to maximize outdoor space on the tight hillside lot. The downslope-facing house skews in elevation to best align with the site’s winning views, which are matched by large format skylights. The architect-led development not only yields a more formally interesting home, but also creates opportunities for the designer to imbue what would normally be a hurried, one-size-fits-all commission with lightness, generously proportioned rooms, and interlocking spaces. Workplays Studio* Architecture, on the other hand, wears the hybrid architect-developer hat in order to create a live/work unit that acts as “an experiment in living on commercial corridors.” For their Pico Live/Work project, the architects added a single-family residence above an existing storefront. By linking the two levels with a courtyard entry and positioning a street-facing workshop in opposition to the home, the project approaches an alternative to conventional mixed-use development as it is normally practiced in the region. Not only that, but the design is developed at a project scale modest enough to be undertaken by a small team, a far cry from the anonymous, big-block developments that have drawn so much community ire in recent years.
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SPAN converts an iconic roof topper into a Central Park triplex penthouse

The steeply-pitched mansard roof of 150 Central Park South, an iconic copper patinaed topper that stands out among its West 57th Street neighbors, will eventually be home to more than storage and HVAC equipment. SPAN Architecture is converting the previously-unused roof floors into a triplex condo unit with surround-views of Central Park, and AN got to tour the raw space before construction begins. 150 Central Park South, also known as Hampshire House, was completed in 1937 after six years of delays caused by the Great Depression. The 37-story, limestone-clad building is instantly recognizable owing to a cascading series of terraces on the northern face, and the two chimneys that bookend its massive copper top. Despite its age and famous tenants, the tower isn’t a landmarked building, allowing for significant interior alterations with the permission of the co-op board and Department of Buildings (DOB). Among them? Two floors could be added, punching 40-foot-tall windows into the roof (after a restoration), and a terrace could be built on the Central Park-facing side. According to SPAN principal Peter Pelsinski, the “eureka” moment came during a survey for the (then) top-floor apartment on the 37th floor. Questioning where the mechanical systems were held, SPAN discovered that the space inside of the roof directly above—also used as storage—could be converted into two new floors with 14-foot-tall ceilings. A tour of the current space revealed ample exposed terra-cotta block insulation (commonly used for fireproofing in older buildings), anchors connecting the copper cladding to the raw concrete walls inside, and a soaring vaulted ceiling reminiscent of a cathedral. With so much height to work with, SPAN ran through over 15 different schemes before arriving at their current layout, though it was also noted that any potential buyers would have the ability to customize the triplex. Some of the wilder schemes for the 39th floor involved leaving it out entirely and opening up the full height of the ceiling, running a pool from one end of the building to the other, or turning it into a gym, an office, or a full cinema. The current plan as approved by the DOB would see the renovation of the current 1,100-square-foot 39th-floor unit, the addition of living rooms on both the 38th and 39th floors, a bedroom and bathroom at each end of the 38th floor, a family room, and a full kitchen and dining room. The nearly-floor-to-ceiling windows in the top-floor living room will also have the ability to open up to the 39th-floor terrace facing the park and create a seamless indoor-outdoor space. When fully built out, the triplex will hold 8,585 square feet of interior space and 1,225 square feet of accessible outdoor space. SPAN went with a neutral palette for the interior, in part as a response to the colorful backdrop that Central Park presents. As the seasons change, so does the color of the foliage, and with so much of the penthouse’s view oriented towards the park, the firm didn’t want to lock themselves into a color or material scheme that would only sync up some of the time. With white walls, herringbone floors in light wood (already found in the 37th-floor unit), and white marble in the bathroom, the aim was to enhance, not detract from, the view.
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Madderlake's design for this hillside mountain house protects it from avalanches

A modernist-inspired mountain home outside of Aspen, Colorado, sports gorgeous wood paneling and concrete walls detailed in the style of Louis Kahn’s early architecture. Dreamed up by Madderlake Design for an active couple and their championship hunting dogs, the 7,500-square-foot Conundrum House and Studio brings a minimalist Japanese sensibility to the remote landscape of the Rockies’ Castle Creek Valley. Design principal Tom Pritchard, a former long-time resident of Aspen, said his team was trying to create a twist on the typical chalet-like, rustic cabin. “We were aiming for luxury rooted in simplicity,” he said. “As you move throughout the house, from space to space, the details feel as if they came from the hands of craftsmen.” But that personal touch was intentional. Madderlake selected materials that fell in line with this natural and effortless aesthetic, such as the simple graining found in Douglas fir, weathered western red cedar, and reclaimed heart pine that are featured on the floors, siding, and ceiling. According to Pritchard, mountain homes tend to be grandiose with massive logs and heavy patterns. Madderlake’s low-hanging, multistory structure combines stucco, soapstone, and Japanese plaster to bring the overall tone of the building back down to earth. One of the biggest design challenges Madderlake faced was protecting the Conundrum House from the threat of an avalanche. The design team incorporated a concrete retaining wall to complement the structure’s steel core and broke up the mass of the building by burying the majority of living spaces deep within the hillside. They then sculpted the landscape to minimize the impact of a potential snowslide. Though much of the house is underground, Madderlake designed the inside levels as a series of steps with small window units that diffuse light into the depths of the building. The result is a bright, inviting interior that’s as elegant as it is cozy.