Portland Backyard Retreat

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This little structure, nearly 200 square feet of enclosed space, offers respite from daily life. Its simplicity is meant to engage the senses while providing shelter for contemplation.

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Indoor-outdoor space, with glass walls that open wide, and wrap-around views. The roof continues over the veranda, providing shelter in the rain.

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Light comes in on three sides, including generous north-facing studio windows. Northern light is generally even and cool, which may be just the thing every now and then.

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The space is simple and open. A wall-mounted cabinet captures the clutter, freeing the floor for whatever. These renderings show the space as it might be used to listen to music. It could also make a great studio for painting, yoga or meditation.

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The view out is expansive. However, the side facing the main house is kept free of openings. This reinforces the removal from daily life, furthering the feeling of getting away for a while.

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From the outside, the retreat is simple and rustic. Its dark, rustic wood siding will deepen with age, becoming part of the surrounding landscape.

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The north-facing entry is modest, with a sense of departure as one steps from a grounded stone stoop to its entry bridge.

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The floor plan is very simple and flexible.

If this design stimulates your ideas about your own retreat, I’d be delighted to talk with you about it.

I designed the project, and created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Portland Garden House

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Like many US cities, substantial portions of Portland, Oregon are laid out on a rectilinear grid. One of the most common lot sizes in the gridded part of town is 50 feet wide by 100 feet deep. This house is tailored to one of these lots, with massing and features that relate it to its neighbors.

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Entering the garden house, you get a strong sense of space and light. The home’s vertical circulation presents itself at the front door, but doesn’t invite immediate ascent. While the living room is the first space you notice, dining and kitchen are hinted at.

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Crossing into the living room, the home’s layers become apparent. The open studio loft hovers above, framing the dining and kitchen, with a view to the back garden. Skylight floods over the stair, filling the space with a healthy glow.

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In the Garden House’s building section, the overall spatial scheme is made clear – the lower two floors are mostly open, and a third level contains bedrooms and a roof terrace. Views through the house are emphasized, from north to south and east to west.

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In plan, the home’s harmonious organization becomes clear. Living space is graduated from public to private; both front to back, and top to bottom. The home’s three gardens are seen here – the social garden at the front of the house, a more private family garden off the kitchen, and a sun-seeking sky garden on the third level.

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The kitchen, which stretches across the back of the first floor, is open to both internal and external living spaces.

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The dining and living areas are fully visible from the kitchen, but a partial height, enclosing wall shields kitchen mess from the living spaces.

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The stair from the first to the second level gives more than vertical transit – it’s an alternate way to experience the space and views. The landing makes a great vantage point, and would be fun during a party.

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The second level has a studio open to living below, and the master bedroom suite adjacent. A sliding door panel offers privacy or wide-open access.

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From the studio, the skylit double height space reveals wide open views of the social garden and the neighbors’ houses beyond.

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An axonometric view shows off the house’s sky garden and skylight to the living room. While the home’s clean modern composition contrasts with the neighbor’s more traditional pitched roofs and double-hung windows, its massing is similar, along with its front porch.

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I adapted the Garden House’s design from a housing prototype designed by French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1920’s. Its 2,400 square feet are organized in a simple, modular way, keeping the house open to future needs and desires. I created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Portland Hill House

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Portland, Oregon is a city with rich topography. Hills, ridges, valleys and promontories give the city texture and drama, as well as mold its neighborhoods and roadways. Slopes often present challenges – access can be tricky, and foundations are usually more elaborate. Yet the compensations are great; the views alone are worth it.

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In Portland, hills have ample greenery – soaring conifers, dense woodlands and lush forest floors. These places can feel like they’re miles out in the country, when they’re often close to the middle of the city. I’ve designed this speculative house for a Portland hillside to embrace the beauty and character of its natural setting.

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It’s in two parts: the main house with its vaulted living space, and a garage which includes a storage loft and studio/workshop on its lower level. These two pavilions are connected by a covered walkway at the front, and a generous terrace at the back.

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The layout of the house is clear and rational. Its form maximizes view and light, and its simple structure recalls sheds and other rural structures.

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The main living level is aligned with the garage. Its spaces, including the master suite, are combined in one open volume. A large deck extends this space outdoors, and emphasizes the indoor/outdoor nature of this home.

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The living area is oriented away from the street, toward the natural landscape and view. With Portland’s rich stock of firs, cedars & spruces, the view up is just as important as the view out.

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The master bedroom is a private sanctuary, intimate and expansive.

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The house’s street face is modest and welcoming. While the main house is just shy of 3,000 square feet, it doesn’t present a bulky image. There are three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a powder room. I’d enjoy finding out how I can make it your home.

All design and images in this posting were created by me. The sculpture shown in the Master Bedroom rendering is called “Flying Without Wings”, and is the work of Jan Watson Flood. Her website: bronzeandcanvas.com

 

Portland Infill House

As Portland continues to attract new residents, its fixed land area must accommodate more residences. One way that the City of Portland has encouraged higher density is to enable development of lots previously considered unacceptably small. This speculative house design is tailored to one of these typical lots – 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The resulting “skinny house” capitalizes on all the code-required architectural features to create a neighborhood-friendly new home.

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All the living space in this 1,700 square foot, three bedroom house has been concentrated on the upper level. This lofted space is open to daylight, both from full height windows and overhead clerestories.

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Treetop views maximize daylight while maintaining privacy, and the gently rising roof offers an expansive sense of space.

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The kitchen, located in the heart of the home, has its own unique roof form, gathering the focus of the living spaces and ensuring maximum sun throughout the day. Bedrooms are located away from the street for maximum privacy and quiet. A small back yard is accessible to both floors via a spiral stair.

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A one-car garage is provided on the ground level – not required by Portland zoning, but useful for a variety of families. Two full-size bathrooms add to the appeal.

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The home’s simple, clear design balances architectural interest with life-accommodating space. This basic design is really just the starting point – it welcomes input from a specific site, the people who build it, and the family who calls it home.

 

Landmark Apartment Restoration

Located in Mies van der Rohe’s landmark steel and glass apartment towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, this apartment was in need of updating and backdating at the same time. My design for its renovation was guided by the building itself; to honor its groundbreaking architecture.

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The apartment layout was returned to original condition, with non-original closets and column enclosures removed.

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The kitchen was completely gutted. Bulthaup cabinets & stainless steel counters were used to evoke the building’s original Metalcraft cabinets. Satin-finished glass tile backsplashes recall the ground floor’s recessed curtainwall. Honed basalt floor pavers, heated by the building’s radiant floor system, create a comfortable, durable foundation.

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The highly customizable Bulthaup cabinets were exploited to maximum effect. All base cabinets utilized deep drawer storage, making this a very space efficient kitchen.

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The modest bathrooms were given a finish upgrade, with glass tile, Duravit fixtures and Hansgrohe faucets. Custom stainless steel trim wraps the shower entrance.

This project was an independent commission. I performed all design, development, documentation and presentation. I administered construction, and created all the photos and drawings in this post.

For more information about the building, please have a look at its website: www.860880lakeshoredrive.com

Pavilion Spyros

This holiday villa, on the west coast of mainland Greece, is intended to eventually become the owner’s retirement home. It’s located high on a cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

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Closely hugging the rocky site, the house is composed of three elements – the main house, terrace and guest house. The materials are stone, concrete and glass.

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The site’s casual layout contains simply ordered spaces, composed with concrete columns and stone walls. Following local tradition, the loadbearing dressed stone is left bare.

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The interior is simple and open, wrapped with the expansive view. The rustic stone walls contrast with sandblasted concrete and honed stone floors.

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As can be seen in the sections above, there’s a deep overhang along the house’s western edge. Made possible by the reinforced concrete construction, it controls the hot afternoon sun while maintaining the view.

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The main elevation shows Pavilion Spyros’ simple elements, understated and tailored to the site.

This house, not yet constructed, is an independent commission. I created the design, and made all drawings and renderings.

2 East Erie

Sometimes it helps to have a good relationship with your neighbors! Graham, Anderson, Probst & White had been doing various architectural projects for the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (aka Carpenters Union) for years. Given that the Carpenters’ headquarters were across the street from GAPW’s office, it’s not surprising. When the Carpenter’s Union decided to replace their existing, four-story building with a new mixed-use development, they insisted on GAPW as their architect.

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Located just two blocks from Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, the Carpenters Union’s property was prime for residential, retail and office development. Partnering with The John Buck Company, the Carpenter’s Union sought to improve their headquarters while capitalizing on their land’s value.

The resulting 40-story, mixed-use tower became know as 2 East Erie. With one of Chicago’s premier late-night bar & grills as its sole retail tenant, the rest of the base was composed of lobbies for the office and residential occupancies, as well as a meeting hall for the Carpenters Union.

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The base of the building was clad in warm brick and stone, seen here at the residential lobby entrance. A laminated glass canopy provides shelter while minimizing shadows.

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Inside the residential lobby, the exterior’s theme of tonal framework is expressed in rich oak panels.

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In the apartments, it’s all about corners. Floor to ceiling glass and column free corners combine to make apartments feel light and spacious. Unlike most apartment buildings, the compact layout of 2 East Erie allowed us to place the living areas on the corners. Even inboard units have projecting glass bays, giving the living space multi-directional views.

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This elevation drawing makes clear the building’s complex development. The base, composed in two parts, reflects the scale of adjacent neighborhood buildings. This articulation of scale masks the six-level parking garage and its sloping floors within. The next five floors of the tower house the Carpenter’s Union headquarters, and the remaining floors are dedicated to residential. The penthouse has apartment amenities, including a roof deck, workout room and party room.

My work on this project was done while I was an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I performed design, development and documentation, including full three-dimensional study of the tower’s interior and exterior. I also did all the residential floor plan layout, including unit mix studies and accessibility conformance.

Photographs in this post were created by Mark Ballogg of Steinkamp Ballogg Photography. I made the rendered drawings.

 

Millennium Park Plaza

The goal of this project was to revitalize the base of a mixed-use tower in the heart of Chicago. Originally built in the 1970’s, the tower base’s mix of sub-grade retail, office and residential lobbies and under-utilized outdoor plaza space were crying out for help. Our design sought to simplify the many floor levels of the existing retail space, with the goal of creating larger, more leasable spaces that opened directly to street level. Lobbies were enlarged and upgraded, and the exterior was given a fresh new image.

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The residential lobby was transformed into a glassy, light-filled hall. Rich, warm materials greet the residents as they return home, raising the profile of the building to match its premium, downtown location.

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The retail portion of the building faces Michigan Avenue. It combines large retails spaces, which have direct access to the street, with a mall. The mall acts as a hub, connecting small retail, office and residential lobbies and a new entrance to a nearby train station.

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As can be imagined, connecting all these spaces was quite complex. Working with existing conditions further challenged the design team to ensure that every bit of structure, ductwork and piping was accounted for.

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One of the greatest challenges was accounting for emergency exits, both existing exits of the office and residential portions of the tower above, and new exits required by the enlarged retail spaces.

This work was performed while I was employed at Solomon Cordwell Buenz. On this project, I performed the role of project architect; coordinating site exploration, engineering consultants and SCB’s design team to ensure that all the project’s features were safe and feasible, while maximizing space and minimizing construction cost.

The renderings featured in this post were created by SCB.

 

 

 

Office for an Investment Company

This workspace is located on the top three floors of a Chicago office tower. All three floors are linked with a three story atrium, a unique feature with a powerful impact on the office.

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As originally constructed, the atrium was designed to have an open stair connecting the floors. But this stair was never built. My clients wanted a stair to enhance the communication of its employees, and it became a major element of this buildout.

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The atrium as found had wide open balconies on all three levels. While my client loved the openness, they needed the space for program areas. I designed a wall system, based on aluminum framed storefront parts, that provided glass and wood veneer panels as suggested by view and privacy requirements.

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The new atrium stair was located adjacent to new conference rooms that were fully glazed to facilitate communication among company members. It’s become a great place to bump into people – a true communicating stair. Glass stair risers were specified to maintain the stair’s transparency.

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The investment company has offices in both the US and the UK. When laying out the work spaces, there was a clash of culture: Americans value privacy, and the Brits need openness and collaboration. In the end, the plan compromises with four-person pods that may be open or enclosed based on the needs of the department.

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This company has a strong appreciation of wood and custom craftsmanship. The reception desk was made veneered in a highly figured maple, with solid planks of the same material at the transaction counter. I also designed custom conference tables of this wood for all the conference rooms.

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In addition to the custom furniture, I also designed custom lighting for the circulation areas. These fixtures consisted of a laminated glass plane suspended 3″ below the ceiling to create a luminous plane.

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This project was completed while I was an employee at Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Corp. I was the project designer and manager, and performed complete project services, including site, contractor, and bid evaluation; programming; schematic design; design development; construction documents and construction administration.

Mark Ballogg create all of the photographs with the exception of the light fixture above, which is a photograph by me.