Residential Design

VOL2 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 7 of 79

Creative Constraints I love talking with architects about what inspires the work they do. Although, I have to admit I am sometimes amused to hear them talk about pebbles on the beach and lichen on driftwood as design catalysts. But you have to start somewhere, and if it's your task to design a house on a pristine site with no visible neighbors around, you might as well start perusing the flora and fauna—and maybe the local history books at the town library. In this issue, we made it a bit easier on our featured firms—we picked projects that had solid context to guide their invention and, in some cases, reinvention. Context is both a con- straint and a springboard, and the tension between the two often yields the most creative, original results. Architect Paul Mankins, FAIA, of Substance Architecture designed our Case Study house amid a bounty of constraints and liberties. In fact, it was sometimes difficult to tell one from the other. The project is a recent revise of a remodel Paul designed for his twin brother back in 2002. The original house was by a notable disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and located on a precipitous site in San Francisco. On Paul's first remodel, site constraints combined with deference to the original architect and his brother's budget limitations. On the second go-round, the first two factors remained in play, but his brother's budget was more generous. So the toughest challenge came as a bit of a sur- prise— external constraints had morphed into internal ones. Chief among them, how do you revise and improve upon your own work as an architect? Daunting, to say the least. However, Paul was smart and humble enough to invite a fresh set of eyes to help him figure it out. He tapped project architect Jessica Terrill, who had a great filter for what to keep and what to reinvent. Working together with Stroub Construction, the fantastic custom builder who managed the first remodel, the team's reimagined house is better in every way. At the same time, says Paul, the house has become even more like itself—an even more accurate distillation of the original vision. Most of our Design Lab houses and our Verbatim project are more straightforward examples of contextual responses to neighborhood and building code influences. All are located in areas known for traditional design, and their architects carefully considered how to reinterpret the existing fabric. Each architect tweaked precedent to deliver a strong house that answers clients' needs without overwhelming the scale and tenor of the neighborhood. Modern architects might call most of the houses traditional, and traditional architects might argue the houses are actually modern. We might call them transitional, but that's a muddy word with little inherent meaning. When architecture is fresh and inventive, it may elude stylistic definition. But maybe that's one constraint we can all do without. S. Claire Conroy Editor-in-Chief EDITOR'S NOTE

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