Residential Design

VOL1 2019

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Page 9 of 75

Mission Impossible? When I set out hunting for our Design Lab houses, I wasn't looking for houses on difficult sites. In fact, I was seeking out houses with strong indoor-outdoor connections, ones that—in some magical way—enhanced their natural settings. Somehow, though, the houses I chose all happened to occupy deeply flawed lots. This surprised me, because they had all transformed their sites so successfully, they appeared perfectly matched. I was well aware, however, that our Case Study project was on a terrible site. Split Box House is just a few miles from my own house, and around the corner from a friend of my son's. I'd been watching this impossible build, mired in a muddy hole, for quite a while. It soon became apparent that it wasn't a typical Atlanta spec home going up, but a house with real architectural chops. Who would possibly build such a good house on such a horrendous lot? If you guessed an architect, you are correct. David I. Goldschmidt, of DiG Architects, selected the mud pit as the location for his family home—and then proceeded to turn it into a tour de force. Nathan and Lisa Kalaher of PlaN Architecture didn't intend to choose a problem site for their home, but it ended up that way. In 2008, they bought a scenic, wooded lot along the Missouri River in South Dakota. As they were waiting to build, a 500-year flood rav- aged the site. Their wooded property was now fully exposed and clearly in harm's way. As part of a flood control project, the land was built up and their homesite was now on a levy above the 100-year-flood mark—but they weren't taking any chances. They raised the lot 8 feet above the street elevation and tapered it back down to a gentle slope. Then they went about carving out privacy for the house now situated in an open prairie. Aidlin Darling's project for clients in Palo Alto is also in a flood plain—and the top 2 feet of soil were expansive clay. So the team raised the building up 18 inches and anchored it with grade beams down to stable soils. Then they conjured an amazing house that opens wide to a beautifully curated lot—with mature redwoods and live oaks carefully preserved during construction. It's on a third of an acre, but it feels like 30. Studio Dwell's impossible mission was to build a house with privacy, light, and protected outdoor views on a busy corner lot in Chicago. However, principal Mark Peters, a veteran of urban builds, understood just how to titrate the complex formula. The result is a building that enlivens the corner, while also establishing a courtyard for private outdoor views and activities. Last comes our Parti Shot project, a house suspended over a creek in Napa Valley. Designed by Fougeron Architecture, it reimagines what a modern Fallingwater might look like today. And yes, it, too, is an impossible site—impossible and impossibly beautiful. For those who ask, "Why hire an architect?" This is why. S. Claire Conroy Editor-in-Chief EDITOR'S NOTE

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