Door County, Wisconsin
Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: Tielens Construction
This home in Door County is a small compact residence nestled in a clearing on the edge of a gently sloping site where its low-slung silhouette disappears in the forest's dense vegetation. Designing an unassuming dwelling that shows an attitude of diffidence to the surrounding forest was a key program requirement. The building is clad in charred cedar from Northern Wisconsin, with its textured blackness complemented by varnished clear cedar, dark-anodized aluminum and glass. The charred wood boards were installed over furring strips of varying depths to form a gently folding and undulating building skin, similar to a pleated curtain. Visitors approach the house from a narrow gravel road that leads to a small trellised forecourt carved deep into the home’s rectangular mass. A continuous wall of milled lumber, stacked at slight angles and finished with a lustrous varnish to create a surface of folding ribbons, extends from the forecourt into the house. Inside, the vestibule connects to an open living space with an oversized sliding glass door system. A sculptural steel staircase leads to the bedroom suite and a large vegetated roof covering. The interior is dominated by white walls, white lacquered cabinets and a grey polished concrete floor.
Jury Comment: "This is a really good house! While it seems simple, there is this layering of texture and materials that you start to appreciate as you get closer to the entry. It’s just really well done. It adds this richness and complexity that seems really appropriate for the setting. The detailing is incredible. There is a sophistication that shows the architects really know how to build houses. From the big concept down to the details, this is a really successful project – inside and out. It’s a very skillfully crafted home."
Photos: John J. Macaulay
Architect: Bruns Architecture
Contractor: Design 2 Construct
On a site that includes a small farm field as well as the heavily wooded topography of two glacial kettles, this new home in Richfield is balanced about a fieldstone wall that runs through the length of the interior and organizes circulation. The stone for the wall was collected nearby and polished smooth by glacial activity. The primary living spaces are collected in a tall two-story volume with a gently sloping roof on the woodland side of the home. On the exterior, warm grey zinc panels hang like drapes from the clerestory down to the lower level. Within the entry, a cedar wall extends past a timber and steel stairway. A board-formed concrete chimney with wood-burning fireplaces anchors both levels. Support spaces are organized in a smaller flat-roofed structure on the field side and wrapped in smooth cedar siding. With energy efficient windows and insulated walls, the home utilizes radiant heat within polished concrete floor slabs. The south facing eave is extended to allow sunlight on winter days and provide shade in the summer.
Jury Comment: “The siting of this home is spectacular. The design solution seemed to take off from a very clear idea about this memorable and beautiful site. The materials and detailing are beautiful. The sustainability features are very good, such as the window glazing and careful orientation. It must be heavenly to be in this glass pavilion looking at the woodland forest.”
Photos: Tricia Shay Photography
Architect: Vetter Denk Architects
Contractor: True Inc.
Inserted into a densely wooded landscape in Waukesha County, this striking building houses a private fitness space and vintage automobile gallery. The “collector’s pavilion” slides into the topography, with a folded roof plane that hovers over a board-formed concrete base. Attuned to privacy and security, the building possesses dual personalities, featuring a secure private bunker from the exterior while transforming into a warm inviting space in the interior. The use of indirect light as well as obscuring direct views from the public right-of-way provides adequate day light while ensuring strict privacy. The project’s shifting personality contrasts and merges with the environment depending on the season. The building employs meticulous detailing that harmonizes with its natural surroundings through its materiality, formal language and siting.
Jury Comment: "This is an incredibly striking project. It’s a beautiful building that sits in its landscape in a compelling way. The concrete, wood and steel are the three materials that are consistently used throughout in a very thoughtful design. The use of concrete is particularly admirable. The way the polished floors, poured-in-place walls and how the module continues from the inside to the outside is well done and creates a very strong relationship. To come across this structure in the landscape would be a powerful moment."
Photos: Ryan Hainey, John Vetter, Alloy Photography
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
Owner: Mandel Group Inc.
Contractor: Greenfire Management Services, LLC
Beaumont Place is located in the heart of the North Shore suburb of Whitefish Bay. It was developed on a property that represents perhaps the only opportunity for new luxury apartment development within this mature, fully built-out community. The development offers a perfect blend of convenience and high-end amenities set in a walkable neighborhood, immediately adjacent to the Silver Spring Drive business district. Beaumont Place features 83 luxury apartment homes in 3 unique buildings with floorplans that are among the largest rental designs constructed in the metro area. Thoughtful consideration was given to providing a home-like atmosphere, including features such as pantries, extra-large storage closets within units and built-ins throughout. Beaumont Place is a wonderful high-quality addition to an existing historic community and blends in seamlessly between single family homes and the Village’s main street shopping district.
The site for Beaumont Housing is a former municipal surface parking lot located in the back of the main street of the village. This gigantic surface lot, which filled half of a large city block, allowed retail customers to park behind the theater and stores and walk to the main street by means of a pedestrian passage. To the north of the site was a residential district with primarily apartment buildings directly across the street.
The Village of Whitefish Bay wanted to develop the vacant parcel into apartment housing, while at the same time asking to maintain the existing on-grade surface parking essential to supporting their main street retail and theater. The developer of the project asked for around 80 large, luxury apartments aimed primarily at empty nesters who wanted to sell their large homes but remain in the village. In addition to maintaining the existing municipal surface parking, new structured parking for the residents had to be developed.
The design solution raises a series of 3-story apartment buildings on top of a second-story green roof terrace in order to maintain virtually all of the municipal on-grade parking, which is now rain and snow covered. New parking for residents is placed in a basement underneath the municipal on-grade parking, allowing residents to ride elevators directly up to their apartment floors.
Two of the new apartment buildings rise three stories above the ground floor municipal parking, while the third building, which fronts on an important residential street to the west, has housing down to the ground floor (elevated just above grade) to maintain a sense of life along the street edge.
The existing pedestrian passageway from the parking to the main street was maintained, and continued through the new development. This allows pedestrians from the residential neighborhood to the north to walk through (and under) the apartments to reach the theater and shops of the village. A common entry for two of the buildings takes the form of a tower, relating closely to a significant number of historic towers in the nearby village. Glass bridges span over the pedestrian passage below. The fire stairs of the new housing are also articulated as picturesque towers, lending a poetic character to a typically mundane architectural feature and enhancing the village skyline.
Each of the 83 apartments in the development has a dedicated outdoor space in a variety of forms ranging from on-grade terraces elevated slightly above the street, to balconies hung out from the facades, to balconies recessed and integrated into the building, to private terraces and lawns on top of the 2nd floor roof terrace. The extent of the roof terrace allows the municipal parking below to be completely concealed from the residents above. A shared space for residents spills out onto the second floor roof terrace, allowing for roof garden parties complete with outdoor grilling.
In a neighborhood almost entirely made of brick masonry buildings, the new housing was clad completely in 16” long clay bricks of several different colors. With attention to the making of deep window returns, segmental arches, stone string courses and diapered brick patterns, the new project has a level of quality directly comparable to nearby historic buildings. The high quality level of the architecture assisted the developer in winning approval for a controversial project in a village that has seen virtually no new development in recent decades.
Photos: Darris Lee Harris Photography & Lacy Landre Photography
Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Contractor: Burg Construction
This contemporary and compact home on a small lake in suburban Milwaukee was designed for a fiber artist and her young family. Nestled among existing houses, it was built on a narrow sliver of land that had been considered unsuitable for new construction because of its limited size and zoning restrictions. The main components of the new home are consolidated in a simple two-story wood cube that rests on a stepped brick podium carved into the site’s existing slope. Exterior materials are limited to locally sourced wood and brick. The main body of the house is clad in horizontal cedar, complemented by stained and painted vertical boards between the windows. Approaching the house from the street, a courtyard path leads to a transparent front door that frames an unencumbered view of the lake beyond. Inside, strategically placed floor-to-ceiling windows alternate with solid walls to highlight views and provide privacy. Rooms are grouped along the perimeter of a two-story living hall. The building envelope yields extraordinary insulation values. The home’s green roofs minimize stormwater runoff, with any excess collected in an on-site raingarden.
Jury Comment: “This project was beautifully executed. The selection of materials and the overall design concept are very thoughtful and restrained. The materials work with each other impeccably. In terms of scale, this is a relatively modest house, but it doesn’t feel like a modest house. Virtually every room feels like it is on the lake and in the trees. The architect took full advantage of this beautiful site.”
Photos: John J. Macaulay
Architect: Engberg Anderson Architects
Contractor: Northtrack Construction
Owner: General Capital Group
This project is the newest residence hall for students attending the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). Located across the street from the main academic building and steps from the student union, the mixed-use building offers housing for students and creates an identifiable MIAD District within the historic Third Ward. The new building features five floors of housing above a ground-floor retail space. The fully furnished two-bedroom suites each accommodate four students, with a living room, kitchen and two bathrooms. Each floor also features student lounges, common study areas and laundry rooms. Outside, a second-story urban courtyard features a wood-planked “dock” and a small gathering area. The exterior of the building balances the rich industrial history of the urban area and the playfulness of the school. A masonry facade is made up of a simple pattern of large windows and exterior steel components to mirror the nearby historic bridges and warehouses and to add some color in the form of bright vertical spandrels. The project enhances the community and provides an opportunity for students to display their work inside and outside the building.
Jury Comment: "What we appreciate about this project is that there is a rigor to the exterior envelope, placement of windows and the organization of the facade. A nice interior element is the way that the exposed ceiling exploits the concrete construction. The exposed ducts are clean and neatly done, which allowed the architect to use more playful furniture. The public spaces also have a playful quality – the elevated courtyard for the students is a nice idea. It looks like an urban site with a thoughtfully considered design for a livable and interesting place for students.
Photos: Engberg Anderson Architects
Experience tells us that successful projects — those that achieve the desired results for owners, users, and architects— result from informed clients working with skilled architects to form professional, business, and often personal relationships. These relationships are formed early on and are nourished by clear communication, mutually understood expectations, and a willingness of both client and architect to understand and accept their responsibilities for realizing a successful project.