Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: Barenz Builders
Located in a small enclave of conventional homes in Whitefish Bay, this project represents a reinvention of a prototypical 1967 suburban ranch into a contemporary dwelling. It illustrates how a dysfunctional house with small disconnected rooms can be reclaimed to comfortably accommodate a young family. While the exterior shell was restored and insulated, the interior was completely gutted and reorganized as a series of interconnected spaces. New large openings between previously separated parts help link together the entire house. The existing Lannon Stone fireplace, once freed from abutting walls, transformed into a visually commanding anchor in the center of the house. The second-floor corridor was opened up to become a mezzanine overlooking the main living hall. Thin continuous wood sheathing follows the slope of the vaulted ceiling above the living hall and accentuates the new connection to the second floor. The kitchen and dining area are consolidated as an open space and connected to the living hall with steps along a built-in credenza. Carefully placed skylights frame views of the sky and bring in natural light, as do a pair of large glass sliding doors that connect to the new backyard patio. A wood deck delineates the outdoor dining space before folding up to form a linear bench with a tall back.
2016 Design Award Winner: Honor Award
Jury Comment: “The architect dramatically transformed this house from a cellular set of spaces into a continuous experience across two levels and from inside to outside. The open plan has a perfect amount of spatial definition. The surgical insertion of the bent wood surface is a successful detail.”
Photos: John J. Macaulay