House cats are supposed to have nine lives. So far, this house has had three.
The first, in 1963, when 'Betty,' the owner of Stevens Point Concrete Block, purchased the best lot on McDill pond to build a home a la Corbusier. Investigate our early construction photos and see how the landscape has changed thru the 1980's.
Then the house met a souffle and was given a vagabond set of clothing. Changing the flat roof into a pitched one, and masking the buildings original facade. The interior was cluttered with many inappropriate alterations, and the mechanical technology was failing from age.
Enter, our Client, with great design sense and the means to carry out her personal dream for the house. She aspired to totally transform the home in an updated modern motif, reflecting the bones of the original design, with an updated aesthetic. Reflecting her desire to reuse, recycle, and reduce.
This project engages the intertwined issues of intent past and present, neglect, misuse, reuse and potential. How does an architectural process become a fluid reaction to the existing conditions?
The decision to renovate rather than going to a clean site and starting from new, took courage and commitment to do what was right for this tired and abused residence. What did it mean to be on this site with the mature landscaping and the lake vista?
We developed a process to strip the structure of all superficial modifications. We left the essence of the original house as an armature to build upon. The Design refocuses the house to the landscape and the lake. Our design decisions were evaluated by achieving the most result with our interventions and asking if the proposed changes would enhance the relationship with the site.
This house is an experiment in the process and role of architects in shaping the evolution of the already-built environment.
Reusing the house was paramount in using present resources correctly. On a prime waterfront site the standard is to tear the existing house down and build new. Our client wanted us to reuse everything in the house that would enhance the design and was in a condition that the object or material would still function as needed. We operated as the designers as well as the builders of this project, allowing us to react to the existing conditions. The run-down condition of the house necessitated a new flat roof similar to the original. In doing so, we created a new insulated shroud to encompass the upper volume, clad in the siding salvaged from the existing house, stained black. Triple glazed all windows. A small addition is also tucked into the new black box. Interior walls were strategically removed and others added. These interior changes are unified by a new floor surface that flows throughout the building and acts as a unifier to other smaller interventions.
Stewardship of Resources
Masonry was tuck pointed or removed, cleaned and re-laid. The existing kitchen cabinets were painted and the doors were recreated. Light fixtures and wood paneling from eBay and garage sales found their way into the project as if they never left. The existing trusses on the roof were removed and salvaged for future use. The door hardware was retained. Shelving units and many of the doors repurposed the final product. The steel railing found new meaning with a wood rail and additional horizontal dowels. We reduced waste by recycling the old carpet, and all the discarded metal.
The Design Solution and Conclusions
We had to understand the limitations and the assets of this house as we designed. We stayed with the project to the very end, making decisions that only you could make with more knowledge and one inch to one inch study models. We stayed true to our goals developing the form and space to take advantage of the assets of the site.