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Prairie Chapel Time Lapse

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Surrounded by much larger properties this ¾ acre site is divided in half by the infrequently traveled local road. On the eastern site, hard against the Atlantic Ocean, is the opportunity to build only on the footprint of the previous structure. On the western side of the street there is the opportunity to build a 5000 sq ft house. The landscape material required to create visual buffering from adjacent properties greatly limits our buildable area.

The western house is organized as an “upside-down” house with living, dining and master bedroom on the upper level. The rooms open to the east and west, affording dramatic framed morning views of the ocean meeting the horizon, and in the evening, the sun setting over the dense foliage. The entry level has 3 bedrooms and an entry hall gallery to display the owner’s art collection. A sloping driveway leads to a 5 bay garage anchoring the basement level.

A stainless steel roof plane hovers over the two-story entry hall. This thin blade extends from high above the front door, sloping down into the interior of the main level to separate the public wing from the private, and finally ends as the overhang protecting the main stair from the afternoon sun.

The beach house is an arrangement of stacked volumes sliding past each other to create interior and exterior gathering spaces - inviting engagement while protecting the occupant from the Florida sun. As with the main house, different materials are used top and bottom to promote a horizontal composition complimentary to the always-present horizon line.

2014 AIATC Design Excellence Award

The sole shelter providing trees on this 2000-acre Montana ranch are the cottonwoods along the banks of the property-bisecting river. The house is sited is in a clearing within a grove of these trees that reveals a clear view of the distant mountain range known as the Crazies. The environs recall the unexploited American West of a century ago.
This river has the potential to dramatically flood its banks during late spring melt off in the mountains. As the first line of defense to this self imposed threat, the house sits on a 30” tall porous plinth lifting the finish floors well above the flood line. Other than the elevated driveway, the house will appear to float on the river as waters pass around and under the foundation. The house has been sited among spring fed ponds in the flood plain that provide year round water features when the river otherwise can slow to a trickle during drought cycles.

The house presents two distinct and separate facades on arrival, revealing itself after the visitor enters as two interlocking objects-- one, a two-level glass wedge, the other a one story wooden bar. Joined together they form a “T” shape. A glass enclosed hall along the western side of the residence adds to the width of the wooden structure and recalls the scale and function of the shed covered walkways in former frontier towns.

Building type: Residence
Completion June 2013
3,800 square feet
Big Timber Montana
Primary components:
Steel Frame, Concrete foundation, metal roofing, native planted sod roof, readapted barn siding, ipe decking, locally quarried limestone floors, Duratherm mahogany windows, geothermal heating and cooling, led light fixtures, Bulthaup Kitchen
Landscape Architect: Raymond Jungles
Interior Furnishings: Michelle Andrews