Posts tagged with "Residential Architecture":

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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.
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Take a peek inside the homes that architects have designed for themselves

Architects’ Houses Michael Webb Princeton Architectural Press $41.69

Thirty architects share their own houses in the recently published tome Architects’ Houses by AN contributor Michael Webb. Here, we share six of the diverse interiors that offer an in-depth look at what architects design when they design for themselves. Baan Naam, Venice, California, by Kulapat Yantrasast. The Thai-born architect mastered the art of concrete construction and put it to good use on the rear wall of his own house. House of the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, Chile, by Smiljan Radić. An espino wood sculpture by Marcela Correa hovers beneath the skylights of a house at the foot of the Andes. Tower House, Ulster County, New York,by Peter and Thomas Gluck. Living spaces are cantilevered from a stack of three bedrooms to command sweeping views over the treetops. Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, has buried his L.A. home in a sloping corner site. NOHO, or No House, will eventually be concealed from the street by dense plantings. This Puget Sound home in Washington is where Jim Olson goes to kick his feet up on the weekends. Longbranch is a continually evolving home, and Olson recently added several new rooms to the older house.
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Seattle-based atelierjones creates one of the first all-CLT residences in the United States

Sixty-three trees, 67 cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, and 12 days—that’s what it took for Seattle-based atelierjones to erect the firm’s 1,500-square-foot CLTHouse, one of the first all-CLT residences constructed in the United States. The three-sided home is built on a leftover 2,500-square-foot triangular lot in Seattle’s Elliot Bay neighborhood on the shores of Lake Washington, where architect Susan Jones launched her research house experiment back in 2015. The house’s blackened, shou-sugi-ban treated exterior panels contrast with the blonde, white-washed, and daylit-spaces within the home, which emanate from a three-level circulation core containing a staircase, wet walls, and concealed utilities. The rustic home is inspired by the Northwest’s ubiquitous log cabins and features exposed wood paneling inside and out in homage to this building type. The approach, according to Jones, seeks to project a sense of “living with nature in the city” and provides a productive example of the smaller-scale capabilities of emerging CLT technologies. The house is punctured by triangular, gable-shaped windows that infuse it with daylight. Combined with the gypsum, plastic-laminate, stainless steel, and quartz-lined interior surfaces, it provides an “immersive, visceral, and natural experience,” according to the architect. Constructed using CNC-milled, rapidly renewable, and sustainably harvested CSFI-certified spruce, pine, and fir panels made by Structurlam, the building is crafted to inspire a sense of naturalistic escape and relaxation. The home’s exposed knotty pine aesthetic is reflected in a pair of stylized second-floor screened window walls that mark a triangular notch carved into the structure. Here, two pairs of sliding glass doors along the ground floor open the dual-lobed plan to the outdoors. Dining and living room spaces swing around this interior corner, where on one side, a thin plywood partition separates the dining and kitchen spaces from one another. Behind the kitchen sits a short hallway that connects the building’s backdoor entrance—located below a cantilevered bedroom suite—with the stair core. On the floor above, a trio of bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a reading nook cap off the home’s living areas while a rooftop deck overlooks the entire neighborhood from a wooden perch. The pilot house was developed as a research prototype and required extra municipal approvals to account for building codes that had not yet incorporated mass timber structural systems. Though crafted from sustainable materials from the start, atelierjones went one step further and planted 800 trees in conjunction with the project to act as an additional carbon sink. The result, according to Jones, is simply “hypernatural.”
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In L.A., this modular steel frame house doubles as a bridge over a secret stream

Half a block south of Los Angeles’s ritzy Hancock Park neighborhood, a secret underground stream that draws its water from the mountains of Griffith Park runs across the backyards of several unassuming homes. On a quizzical block where each house provides a corresponding bridge to span the stream, Los Angeles–based architect Dan Brunn is busy erecting a 200-foot-long house that doubles as its own bridge. The 4,500-square-foot home is being built using the BONE Structure prefabricated steel construction system, a modular product developed by an eponymous manufacturer based out of Laval, Quebec, Canada. The all-steel system is fabricated entirely off-site and put together on-site, each element assigned an individualized bar code designating its placement. Brunn utilized a five-by-five-foot module “designed around experience, not transport or manufacture” to create the home. The three-bedroom, shotgun-style house is arranged with a carport facing the street. From there, a living room, kitchen, and courtyard extend into the site, followed by a bathroom sandwiched between two smaller bedrooms. A master suite caps the back end of the home, concealing an office space located below that is accessible to the banks of the stream. Brunn said, “The precision of the BONE Structure system is so evident and clear, it’s like seeing the inside of a Swiss watch.” The home is currently under construction and is expected to be complete late 2018.
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Russel Wright’s renovated Manitoga shines with hand-crafted details

In 1942, the industrial designer Russel Wright and his wife, Mary Small Einstein, purchased a 75-acre abandoned stone quarry in Garrison, New York, on the eastern side of the Hudson River. The wooded site has a spectacular view down to the river, and Wright lived on the property until his death in 1976. He chose a dramatic spot above and adjacent to the deep stone quarry to build a home he called Dragon Rock, and spent the rest of his life refining and redesigning the terrain. For example, he redirected a stream to fill the quarry with water, creating an idyllic swimming pond.     The house itself, designed by the architect David L. Leavitt, is a straightforward midcentury-modern glass-and-wood-frame structure tucked into the steep stone hillside with an early green roof, but it is in its details, surfaces, and wall treatments that one can sense Wright’s creative genius as a designer. He found iron tools and large stones in the quarry and used them as door handles. The house has a distinctive Japanese sensibility in its handcrafted details and choice of materials. We examine nine of Wright’s handmade details in order to better understand the famous designer. The house, now called Manitoga, The Russel Wright Design Center, is open for public tours May 18 to November 12. Check visitmanitoga.org for details.
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A house of intersecting volumes in upstate New York house offers a geometric, sustainable retreat

Sitting alone in a dense forest clearing, the Sleeve House is composed of two simple intersecting volumes whose relationship produces a series of complex interior spaces and experiences. Designed for urban clients by New York-based actual/office (a/o), the home, two hours north of Manhattan in the Hudson Valley, offers an escape. With expansive views of the Catskill and Taconic mountain ranges and generous spaces provided for art display, the Sleeve House provides a certain lifestyle through architectural moves and a selective material palette. The 2,500-square-foot house is composed of one small and elongated prism slipping into a larger but stouter one. The irregular spaces produced between the two provide for the public programs of the house. An entry gallery leads guests to a large living area, the home’s grandest space. The remainder of this in-between is used for a stair leading to the smaller inner volume, which is mounted in the middle of the house upon concrete supports. Neatly arranged within this volume are the private spaces—bedrooms, a bath, and a study—distinctly separate (formally and metaphorically) from the home’s public areas. “The project is interested in being contemporary, yet having some reference to its context and its site,” explained a/o founder Adam Dayem. “One of the references is old agricultural buildings, barns, and silos you find in upstate New York. They are very simple volumes sitting in the landscape and have these rough and weathered facades from sitting in the elements for one hundred years.” Throughout, a selective palette of materials emphasizes the formal moves of the project while enforcing the separation of public and private. Inside and out, both volumes are clad in shou sugi ban–charred wood siding. Through alternating the orientation and spacing of the continuous black boards, the geometry of the house is emphasized, while at the same time, its surface is activated with depth and pattern. Along with structurally supporting the house, large concrete walls provide space to hang art. Exposed concrete and glass further accentuate the form, appearing on both the exterior and interior. The ends of the volumes are capped with massive glass walls, framing views of the countryside for the enjoyment of which the house was sited. The high level of detail is carried through to the mechanical systems, which are meant to provide comfort while addressing sustainability concerns. The house’s entire electrical system is supplied by solar energy, a true advantage, considering the building’s relatively remote location. Triple-paned glass and radiant heat embedded in the foundational slab keep in as much heat as possible during often brutal Northeast winters, and a heat and energy recovery ventilation system efficiently heats and cools the home all year. Finding a contractor to build a leaning house with unconventional detailing presented its own challenges, but the project’s location in upstate New York helped. “I found that there is a serious culture of high-end design and construction up there. Some contractors did say no, but the contractor I went with, Lorne Dawes, is maybe not a typical contractor. He won’t say no; he will say, ‘Let’s figure this out.’”
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Sharif, Lynch: Architecture transforms a California bungalow into a multigenerational home

While the popular image of Los Angeles is often that of Bel Air mansions and ocean-side surf towns, the heart of the city is more accurately characterized by long rows of small single-family bungalows. When L.A.-based Sharif, Lynch: Architecture took on a project to transform one of these ubiquitous structures into a multigenerational home, the firm looked to the ideas of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, such as "ugly and ordinary" from Learning from Las Vegas, to guide the nature of the project. "I suppose it’s a paradox—wanting the house to both appear as a thing and disappear at the same time—to be self-consciously un-self-conscious," explained Mohamed Sharif, partner at Sharif, Lynch: Architecture, about the project’s balance of design and restraint. The 2,500-square-foot, four-bedroom home in the quiet Mar Vista neighborhood started out as a typical bungalow. By removing the rear of the home, and building a new two-story "L" addition, the project is able to accommodate a completely new lifestyle. The house now accommodates a family with three sons, ranging in age from pre-K to high school, and a mother-in-law flat. The addition also provided a chance to brighten and integrate the interior, which like most California bungalows can be dark with small spaces. With an eye on a tight budget, spaces are adorned in mostly off-the-shelf details, and a clean white palette is used throughout. Rather than focusing on expensive materials and finishes, the firm let the large architectural moves become the driving force behind decisions. Each decision was made with light, fresh air, and a connection to the large outdoor patio in mind. The position and size of the windows, in particular, provide delineation among all of the spaces. "The relationship between the two realms is the spatial engine of the house," said Sharif. "Axially placed openings provide framed views that give the spatial sequence a sense of hierarchy, while diagonally placed openings set up successions of the incidental, of episodes that activate deeper peripheral and lateral perception of the broader context.” Sharif, Lynch’s addition exudes Southern California; with its sun-worshiping interior and its simple bungalow front, the home transcends its original typology, while maintaining its classic charm.
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Suchi Reddy designs an art-filled home as lush as its surroundings in Miami Beach

When Suchi Reddy, founder of New York–based Reddymade Design, was tasked with redesigning a 12,000-square-foot home in Miami Beach, Florida, she learned that the job would involve not only designing the space, but also helping the client curate an extensive contemporary art collection. Situated on Sunset Island, the home is affectionately known as the “Sweet Spot,” and Reddy’s vision was a careful balance of architecture, art, and design.

The 1939 waterfront house was built by a Cuban sugar baron in a hybrid style of Caribbean colonial and Hollywood regency. Reddy’s design transformed the estate into a comfortable contemporary home that also showcases the client’s art collection. Each space was carefully designed with that collection in mind, with additional work introduced by Reddy, including pieces by Gerhard Richter, Marina Abramovic, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Erin Shirreff, Kate Shepherd, and Barry X Ball. The architecture plays directly with the art—for example, the curving main staircase winds around a 17-foot-long light installation by artist Pae White, chosen by Reddy precisely for the space.

Throughout the six-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bath home, each room was treated as a separate design opportunity. “Part of the challenge was that every room is fairly large, and to create intimacy and comfort within a large space can be quite a difficult task,” Reddy said. “I took a sculptural approach to designing the spaces as a response. Each room was conceived as a ‘gallery’ of sorts, with curated objects, furniture, and art.” 

As would be expected of such a project, the detailing of each space is meticulous. From elaborate molding to a variety of floor finishes, every surface is considered. In some cases, Reddy worked with existing elements. “The lounge near the bar had walls with plaster palm trees—not a staple of modern design strategies,” she explained. “I decided to treat them as texture that was filled out by the curtains between them, and change the focus to the center of the room by creating a circular seating area that becomes a focal point, drawing you through the axis of the house.”

A major portion of the design was the choice of furniture. The dining room features a floating glass table designed by Poetic Lab. Another room centers around a thick telescope glass coffee table by KGBL. Colorful textiles play a key role in many of the spaces. In the living room, sculptural furniture is clad in bright African wax-print fabrics, one of Reddy’s own passions. “My Indian heritage gives me a very deep appreciation of textiles and texture,” said Reddy. “And that love informs every space, not with an Indian influence, but with a sensibility for spaces that feel sensual.”

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In a Seattle neighborhood of traditional family homes, Heliotrope Architects create a modern abode using local materials

In a hip and funky part of Capitol Hill—Seattle’s answer to Brooklyn—sits one new home that is unlike the others. Amid the surrounding sea of bungalow and cottage-style homes is a new residence designed by Seattle and-Portland-based Heliotrope Architects. With its stained-cedar facade and abstract gable roof, it is contemporary yet quietly different, its boldness found in soft details, a monochromatic color palette, and honest materials.

An engineer and an artist—the former an online-retailer employee and the latter a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design—initially reached out to Heliotrope for the project. The couple had big plans to create a home on an empty mid-block lot (the former cottage-style home on the lot was razed) that could house a shared art studio space and feel airy, light, and cheerful.

The interiors take inspiration from white-walled contemporary art galleries, providing a neutral backdrop to a clean, clutter-free space filled with smart furnishings and Arne Jacobsen lighting fixtures. “The approach is not indulgent,” said Heliotrope co-founder and principal Mike Mora. “It’s relatively modest.”

White-painted sheetrock adds tranquility and calmness without feeling sterile. There are Northwestern myrtlewood floors in the peripheral spaces and wood-look tile and concrete flooring (with radiant heat) in the main living areas. The kitchen features custom cabinetry and walnut butcher-block counters, and the living room has custom bookshelves, all crafted by local builder Dovetail (known for building out local Seattle eateries like Joule and Mezcaleria Oaxaca). Ample glazing and skylights bring daylight inside, valuable in a region that can have nine months of cloud cover each year.

“It’s not just a two-story box,” said Mora, explaining why they focused on keeping the house low instead of maximizing the building envelope.

There is a thoughtful balance and unity between contemporary and warm, indoor and outdoor, public and private. As Mora explained, the design relies on a checkerboard layout—a careful juxtaposition between the interior and two ground-level gardens that help distribute natural light throughout the home (there’s also a rooftop garden as well). The master suite is split between two levels: The master bedroom is on the upper floor and looks over the double-height artist studio, while the master bath downstairs includes a custom Japanese soaking tub and cedar countertops. The guest suite lies underneath the gable roof, separated from the master suite.

In the end, Heliotrope was driven by its clients’ close connection to design. “Physical objects are important to them,” said Mora. In fact, the couple is so meticulously organized that the house required just five minutes of staging before the photographer came to shoot this feature.

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Breuer-inspired Los Angeles house turns old split-level conventions upside down

The Los Angeles Design Group (LADG) recently completed work on their Armstrong Residence, a 1,894-square-foot renovation of an existing, split-level single family house in Los Angeles’s Silverlake neighborhood. The house's massing is directly inspired by Marcel Breuer’s former Whitney Museum in New York City, except that instead of jutting out over a busy Manhattan street, the Armstrong House instead steps out along its back facade, mimicking the slope of a gentle hill located behind the house. Along the street front, an inset-bay window—Breuer’s streetside eye juts out from the structure—interrupts the otherwise monolithic, charred cedar wood exterior. The front window is contained within an overhanging car port and its panes are torqued to align perpendicularly with the nearby Silverlake Reservoir. On the back side of the house, a projecting oculus is similarly torqued and arranged here, in parallel with the slope. Both windows are an attempt, according to the LADG principals Andrew Holder and Claus Benjamin Freyinger, to “interiorize” exterior landscape features as elements of interior scenography. Along areas where the exterior envelope is broken, like along the lids of the oculus or the planes of a stepped-back, third-floor facade, the wood siding shifts to a natural finish. The house is designed as an “upside down house,” organized with a large, clear-span living room at the top floor with two levels containing two bedrooms, bathrooms, a study, and a laundry room located below. The new top floor acts like a hat over the existing spaces. The living room organization, much like the original split-level design, maximizes the house’s viewshed toward the reservoir. The space is organized around its views, with a built-in kitchen assembly on one short end of the rectangular great room, and a relaxed seating area located opposite. The areas between these spaces are animated through the presence of a pair of operable window-walls that open onto a generous exterior terrace. The indoor-outdoor living room—its front wall pulled back from the facade and clad in naturally-finished cedar—looks out over the surrounding hillsides and reservoir.