Meaders Residence

Bob Borson —  March 26, 2010 — 20 Comments

I already wrote a post on why modern style residential projects cost more to build (here) but I thought it would be nice to look at one of my old firm’s projects to see if the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Take a look at these photos and look for the little details. You will find that soffit vents align with architectural features and window mullions; window mullions line up with masonry joints, windows extend up to the ceiling and the interior ceiling and exterior soffit are in the same plane (no header sticking down to interrupt your eye moving from inside to outside).

We also spent time working out the foundation grade beam around the koi pond so that the house cantilevers out over the water. This wasn’t an easy detail and despite looking great, it actually served a purpose: the fish need a place of shelter to protect them from winged predators.

We paid attention to the soffit materials and the layout of the vents, look for how the exterior structure relates/ penetrates. There are a lot of little moving parts in this project that go a long way in making the spaces feel “right”. We adjust ceiling heights throughout the house to relate not only to the function, but the role the spaces place as points along a line of experience (sounds like architecture talk…uh-oh). Once inside the front door, the window in the entry vestibule is lowered to the floor, closing things down (and focusing your eye towards the koi pond beyond) so that as you turn to the major public spaces to either side, the windows extend from floor to ceiling, enlarging the space and extending it out into the terrace and sculpture garden. Even the act of entering and turning to the right is a considered experience – far different from if you entered to one side of the public room.

Our project description reads like this:

After looking for years, the owners found a densely wooded urban lot to build a home for their family of six. The challenge to the program was that he wanted an extremely modern home to feature the art collection while she wanted a warm and inviting home to entertain a large extended family. We met their goals by incorporating the earthiness of rough-back limestone and warmly toned rift-cut white oak millwork with extensive open walls of custom steel window assemblies. The large expanses of glass visually connect the interior spaces to the exterior terraces, sculpture gardens, and reflecting pools. The low slope and neutral tone of the standing seam metal roof integrates into the canopy of the surrounding trees and landscape while the deep overhangs protect the large openings in the wall from the direct rays of the summer sun. Close collaboration with the landscape architect facilitated a comprehensive and cohesive design that extends this home into its surroundings.

even better

  • Sunny

    A fantastic house. How big was it?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I seem to recall that it was around 10,000 sf

  • Ryan

    Bob,

    Long time reader (2 weeks), first time poster.

    First off, I just wanted to say that, as a young intern architect, the content of your blog is inspiring and educational – a combination I have been longing for in an architecture blog and have only found in one other – http://blog.buildllc.com/.

    Second, I was wondering if you would ever consider doing technical posts relating to some of the more complicated details of your work that you mentioned in the above post? I know some architects guard them with their life, but I feel you may be one willing to break that mould.

    Finally, after reading through some of your posts/comments on your struggle with how to approach the blog and the amount of time it is taking up, I would like to say that my preference would be to see high quality posts once or twice week than to see short regular posts that skim the topic.

    Looking forward to future posts and discussions.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Ryan,

      Thanks for reading and for jumping in a posting a comment. I have been thinking about posting some technical information but haven’t made up my mind. I know I enjoy looking at that level of information so I assume others would as well. What I haven’t determined is who is actually reading my blog and would THEY like to see that information. You comment might help sway my decision. Part of the reason architects refrain from posting such information is the potential risk they assume by putting that information out there for consumption. Without having the ability to work through the specifics, and the fact that these details lack the specification information that exists in other places (specifications on things like waterproofing, caulking and sealing, etc.) people aren’t getting the entire construction picture – rather a really detailed concept sketch. We’ll see how this goes.

      Hopefully I find a time balance to the posts I write and the rest of my life. I have enjoyed doing this so far. Thanks again.

  • Ryan

    Bob,

    Long time reader (2 weeks), first time poster.

    First off, I just wanted to say that, as a young intern architect, the content of your blog is inspiring and educational – a combination I have been longing for in an architecture blog and have only found in one other – http://blog.buildllc.com/.

    Second, I was wondering if you would ever consider doing technical posts relating to some of the more complicated details of your work that you mentioned in the above post? I know some architects guard them with their life, but I feel you may be one willing to break that mould.

    Finally, after reading through some of your posts/comments on your struggle with how to approach the blog and the amount of time it is taking up, I would like to say that my preference would be to see high quality posts once or twice week than to see short regular posts that skim the topic.

    Looking forward to future posts and discussions.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Ryan,

      Thanks for reading and for jumping in a posting a comment. I have been thinking about posting some technical information but haven’t made up my mind. I know I enjoy looking at that level of information so I assume others would as well. What I haven’t determined is who is actually reading my blog and would THEY like to see that information. You comment might help sway my decision. Part of the reason architects refrain from posting such information is the potential risk they assume by putting that information out there for consumption. Without having the ability to work through the specifics, and the fact that these details lack the specification information that exists in other places (specifications on things like waterproofing, caulking and sealing, etc.) people aren’t getting the entire construction picture – rather a really detailed concept sketch. We’ll see how this goes.

      Hopefully I find a time balance to the posts I write and the rest of my life. I have enjoyed doing this so far. Thanks again.

  • http://www.vongdc.com Julie

    Very nice Rob! Brilliant, Elegant & Eternal!!

  • http://www.vongdc.com/ Julie

    Very nice Rob! Brilliant, Elegant & Eternal!!

  • http://mowerymarsh.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Marsh

    Can’t imagine why you would have any hesitation in posting you’re own work?! It’s beautifully done. The materials, composition, precision detailing… and it just feels good. The integration with the exterior spaces is particularly well thought out. Love the overall shot of the courtyard…again the composition is quite photogenic.

    I haven’t had the opportunity in my residential career to do this type of work but looking back on my institutional experience, I remember how difficult it was to create flush conditions, lean overhangs and clean exposed joints where materials meet. You pulled it off here and it looks effortless. Must have been a seasoned builder?

    I look forward to seeing more…

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Jennifer,

      Thanks for such nice comments. I think I will post a new project, maybe once every other week or so (whenever I am in dire straights and can’t come up with an idea for a regular posting!)

      I was nervous about posting my work because up until that moment, my blog life and my work life had remained somewhat seperate (although quite connected at times). I could just imagine how disappointed I would be if I thought I was connecting intellectuaally with someone only to find out that they were some sort of miscreant – understand what I mean? I didn’t think my work was bad but it might not be what some people are interested in (and should I care? probably not but I do).
      It was a seasoned builder, our best builder actually, and I’ll point out not our most expensive builder. He works on only our most complicated projects and will only run two projects at a time. It’s typically a timing issue to get him.
      Thanks for reading.

  • http://mowerymarsh.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Marsh

    Can’t imagine why you would have any hesitation in posting you’re own work?! It’s beautifully done. The materials, composition, precision detailing… and it just feels good. The integration with the exterior spaces is particularly well thought out. Love the overall shot of the courtyard…again the composition is quite photogenic.

    I haven’t had the opportunity in my residential career to do this type of work but looking back on my institutional experience, I remember how difficult it was to create flush conditions, lean overhangs and clean exposed joints where materials meet. You pulled it off here and it looks effortless. Must have been a seasoned builder?

    I look forward to seeing more…

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Jennifer,

      Thanks for such nice comments. I think I will post a new project, maybe once every other week or so (whenever I am in dire straights and can’t come up with an idea for a regular posting!)

      I was nervous about posting my work because up until that moment, my blog life and my work life had remained somewhat seperate (although quite connected at times). I could just imagine how disappointed I would be if I thought I was connecting intellectuaally with someone only to find out that they were some sort of miscreant – understand what I mean? I didn’t think my work was bad but it might not be what some people are interested in (and should I care? probably not but I do).
      It was a seasoned builder, our best builder actually, and I’ll point out not our most expensive builder. He works on only our most complicated projects and will only run two projects at a time. It’s typically a timing issue to get him.
      Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com Paul Anater

    Oh wow Bob, what an amazing project. Thanks for posting it.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      That project is 8 years old and has already been remodeled (if you can believe it). I am going to release some additional projects, maybe one a week over the next few weeks. I just shot some scout photos for a cabana project that has a exterior stainless steel spiral staircase shrouded in woven SS mesh. The rest of the project is 2 stories tall but only +/- 730 square feet. That will be one to look out for.

  • http://www.kitchenandresidentialdesign.com/ Paul Anater

    Oh wow Bob, what an amazing project. Thanks for posting it.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      That project is 8 years old and has already been remodeled (if you can believe it). I am going to release some additional projects, maybe one a week over the next few weeks. I just shot some scout photos for a cabana project that has a exterior stainless steel spiral staircase shrouded in woven SS mesh. The rest of the project is 2 stories tall but only +/- 730 square feet. That will be one to look out for.

  • http://www.concretedetail.com/blog Rich Holschuh

    Oo-la-la! So nice…

    You don’t need to convince me that details DO matter. It is a great pleasure to see such thoughtful consideration and execution on this project – which, I’m sure, is representative of the results that are enabled when you are given permission to “do it right” from the very beginning.

    It would be so gratifying to actually dwell in this home – the soul satisfaction would run deep and solid. You couldn’t help but have a better day! Thanks for sharing and caring.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Thanks Rich. I would like to live here as well (this is my actual house )
      You would probably appreciate the concrete work and detail on this house. There was a lot of trigger work to get nice surfaces and unbroken edges on all those floating slabs.
      Thanks for commenting – glad you jumped in the mix.

  • http://www.concretedetail.com/blog Rich Holschuh

    Oo-la-la! So nice…

    You don’t need to convince me that details DO matter. It is a great pleasure to see such thoughtful consideration and execution on this project – which, I’m sure, is representative of the results that are enabled when you are given permission to “do it right” from the very beginning.

    It would be so gratifying to actually dwell in this home – the soul satisfaction would run deep and solid. You couldn’t help but have a better day! Thanks for sharing and caring.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Thanks Rich. I would like to live here as well (this is my actual house )
      You would probably appreciate the concrete work and detail on this house. There was a lot of trigger work to get nice surfaces and unbroken edges on all those floating slabs.
      Thanks for commenting – glad you jumped in the mix.