Set atop a ravine along Lake Michigan, this modern home embraces the beauty and drama of the surrounding landscape. Using a carefully calibrated palette of limestone and glass, the two-story form complements the serenity of its setting. Setbacks, roof overhangs and the façade respond to the scale and context of the site, mirroring the surrounding light and trees.
The owners sought to capture views of the site’s tree canopy and the lake beyond, while meeting the needs of their active young family. Because the front of the home faces the street, the architects designed an intermittent pattern of carefully composed slot windows within a limestone-paneled wall. The composition mimics the patterning of the trees, extending beyond the home to a site wall and creating the illusion of a light and open facade. The sculptural pattern also creates a sense of privacy.
The façade’s solidity eventually erodes, as it reaches the ravine. There, the design features an all-glass second story. The back façade is slightly angled to create lake views from each of the second floor bedrooms. The patterned front façade, which provided only a hint of the home’s interior, now opens to expansive framed views of the ravine.
The home’s floor plan addresses the dichotomy between the forest and street view. The architects placed stairwells and circulation on the street side, instilling privacy, while still allowing light to filter through. In the living spaces, expansive views create connections to nature through every season.
The architects used Indiana limestone for the home’s exterior panels. Local materials reduced the waste of resources required to transport, and the limestone’s long life cycle eliminates the need for removal and replacement. In respect for the site, no large trees were removed, indigenous plants were selected and minimal hardscape was added, keeping the impervious surfaces to a minimum.
While a home with so many glass elements allows for energy-efficient daylighting, solar heat gain and heat loss proved to be major challenges. The architects addressed this by using large overhangs, motorized shades, high performance double-glazed, low-E coated windows and an advanced mechanical system. In addition, spray foam insulation on both the exterior walls and roof enabled the building to surpass code required R values.