Residential Design

Vol. 3, 2017

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

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New York selected Johnsen Schmaling as one of its Emerging Voices for 2008. Although now more than a decade old, the house still pleases Sebastian's design eye and aligns tightly with the firm's ongoing mission. "One of our revelations is that we still like Camouflage House all these years later. This is a building we probably would design similarly again," he says. "It taught us a lot of things: The rhythm shift and overlay of trees as you walk through a forest, the vertical lines, the changing colors of the leaves, the bark of the trunks. We took the language from that and translated it into Camouflage House—the idea of verticality, even when you have a horizontal house, the undulated skin and colors of the façade panels. "Camouflage is applicable to many of our buildings. We still think that's an appropriate way to respond to the site: We develop a palette that allows a building to blend in with its context, rather than standing out in contrast to it." Undulation Education On the strength of its home-turf accomplishments, Johnsen Schmaling is increasingly called upon to design outside Wisconsin's boundaries. "We are as busy as everybody else these days, which is a big change since 2011," says Sebastian. "We're up to eight people now, and half our work is out of state. We're not just relying on the small pool of potential clients in our neighborhood." Oftentimes, though, the jobs out of state have a Wisconsin connection. Such was the case for the Mountain House in Montana, whose client is from Wisconsin. Even in a new and unfamiliar location (in this case, the Rocky Moun- tains), the lessons from Camouflage House remain applicable. Blending in amid the backdrop of Big Sky country means responding to terrain, in addition to other natural elements. And that's no small challenge with an orthog- onal structure. For Mountain House, the firm used "a series of flat and gently sloping volumes and planes" to track the undulating topography. The canted roof responds to the mountain ridges at a distance. Pitching the roof made sense in harsh snow country and as a response to the landscape. It's a move the firm has zero qualms about, despite a prevailing notion that modern houses should have flat roofs. "You can't just take a style and transplant it around the country. It becomes intellec- tually void and empty," says Sebastian. "When people ask us for a modern building, we don't know what that means. Imbuing a building with another level of Above left: Although an urban project, East Side Infill now under construction also takes its color palette from local context. The slats on the exterior are "a play on clapboard siding." Above: The tiny Studio for a Composer is one of the firm's most poetic buildings. VOL. 3, 2017 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGAZINE.COM 19

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