Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: Yahara Builders, LLC
This private family residence occupies a small lot in Madison’s historic University Heights neighborhood. The home was designed as a respectful but unapologetically contemporary building and discreetly placed in the back of the trapezoidal site to avoid direct visual competition with its two dignified 19th century neighbors. The house is a simple volume composed of two building blocks – a two-story brick podium partially embedded in the site’s existing slope and a linear cedar-clad meander that wraps up and over the podium before transforming into a cantilever. The home’s garage, support rooms and open living hall are located in the brick base, while its bedrooms, baths and a small reading room are housed in the cedar volume. The main living hall, an open space for cooking, eating and sitting, features a series of floor-to-ceiling windows that offer framed views into the neighborhood. The exterior material palette is limited to brick and wood, two materials common to the surrounding historic homes that together add a subtle muted nod to the bold colors of the neighborhood’s Victorian homes.
Jury Comment: “As an extremely modern abstract house, there is something about the way the architect broke down the scale with the materials in the facade that helps it to so beautifully fit into the context of the neighborhood. The execution of this project is really precise. The architect paid a lot of attention to the details of the simple plan and massing. There are powerful moments where you are wrapped in the materials. For a modern single-family residence to fit into a historic neighborhood like this, there are a lot of different design moves like the use of materials, hiding the garage and the setback that all make it work really well."
Photos: John J. Macaulay