Site for Johns Island River House

View toward the Stono River on Johns Island We'll soon be under permit for the construction of a new residence designed for our clients on their beautiful Johns Island property. I visited the site again yesterday to take a final look at the building footprint staked-out on the property.

New home site on the Stono River.

The new river house that we designed will be sited on the 9 acre parcel to take advantage of the strengths of the property--numerous grand live oaks and large pines, short and long river views, mature understory flora, among others--while framing views to conceal the presence of the few neighboring residences nearby. We are re-routing the entry drive to skirt the edge a beautiful glade of native ferns clustered near the road.

This glade of native ferns near the road will greet those arriving at the property year round along the re-routed entry drive to the residence.

Stakes marking the corners of the proposed residence give us an opportunity to make adjustments to the final positioning.

We are happy to be working with RM Buck Builders, who will be constructing the residence.  A quality, family-run business, we were pleased to join them off of Kiawah to apply their quality control systems to the construction of this residence.  We're also thrilled to have the support of Rebekah Carter and her Red Element Design Studio in assisting our clients with the selections for the interior. Rebekah is doing a fabulous and professional job, as usual.

A post with some conceptual designs for the new residence can be found via this link.

This tree and two other marsh-side oaks were key in determining the design and orientation of the residence.

Turbeville Tower

This radio tower and integrated brick shed seen yesterday near Turbeville made me wonder which came first. I had a big driving day on Sunday, heading from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, and then circling back to Sumter for a friend's engagement party.  I was in Myrtle Beach for a couple of hours tending to some business, and admit that that satisfied me for another year or so.  Aside from that part of my day, it was a pretty relaxing drive, especially along the lonesome stretch between Conway and Sumter.  It was a reminder of how empty and lonesome the Pee Dee region can be.

Driving close to Turbeville, I noticed this old steel radio tower beside a farmhouse that was inscribing a brick shed at its base.  Built so tightly together, the minor overhangs were enveloping the four principal supports as well as the cross bracing. Maybe this is a old Ham radio setup? I thought it was an interesting form and integration between these two elements.

Turbeville tower as seen along the roadside between Conway and Sumter yesterday.


LEED Renovation on Kiawah Island Underway

Framing underway for Kiawah Island cottage renovation designed for LEED certification. The complete renovation of an Ocean Woods Cottage on Kiawah Island is underway.  We've designed the renovation, which will have a distinctly contemporary feel, in accordance with US Green Building Council's LEED standards, and are hoping for LEED Gold Certification. The layout and feel of the living spaces will be completely different from another Ocean Woods project that we completed last year, owing to different opportunities that the sites presented and the distinct tastes of the clients. It will be an interesting test of the design flexibility possible in these simple and virtually identical units. We are working with the same contractor, River Creek Construction, on this one as we did on the last.

Where Have We Been?

We have been busy, with little time for posting on the site.  The stars aligned for the production of CD's simultaneously on a two new residences (one on a fabulous waterfront  Johns Island property and one by the beach on Seabrook) while designing a couple of downtown renovations that required City of Charleston BAR approval, and a contemporary renovation of a Seabrook residence with incredible views.  A sail on the harbor today to take in some of the Race Week action gave me a chance to sweep out some mental clutter and think about something to post. Sandy Barton and his crews with Sands Construction have completed the addition to and  renovation of a residence on Kiawah Island.  I thought it would be fun to post a couple of images of this project that I took last week, as as one rear elevation image from before we began the design work.

Rear elevation, Kiawah Island renovation and addition overlooking the Kiawah River.

Kiawah Island residence, before renovation/addition.

This renovation was mainly focused on adding a new partial third level above existing living spaces.  The left side of the house (from garage to new master suite, and including the kitchen) was completely renovated or all new.  The right-most side of the residence was left alone, save for repainting the interior and refinishing the exterior to match the new materials. Sandy did a fabulous job taking our design and wrenching this mess of 1980's construction, which had been partially renovated a decade ago, into superior shape.

The deck features a reoriented stair to maximize useable space for gathering, plus new pie decking and custom designed newels and cable rail.


Curving Things can be Difficult--but not Necessarily

Masons laying a simple curved wall in concrete block at a new home in Mt. Pleasant

In my time as an adolescent and younger man as the son of a contractor and, later, as an architecture student, I was thrown into a lot of construction and fabrication tasks.  Between framing houses in wood and steel, running trim work, installing tile, felting roofs, building basswood models, slicing and reforming 2x4s, and hanging sheetrock in a GNC distribution plant in Pendleton, SC, I came to understand a couple of things.  First, contractors typically detest the burden of creating curves in architecture, though will do it happily for a premium price. Secondly, and related to the first point, some materials are easy to curve, and others must be willed to curve at more significant cost of time and application of expertise.

When creating the design for a new home in Mt. Pleasant, I was needed to strike a careful balance between an architecture subtly curving shingle style details that my clients were drawn toward and a reasonable budget for a growing family.  Shingle style houses can use a well placed curve to even things out, but I knew that we didn't have the budget for curving rafter tails or large expanses of framed walls.  Or even large expanses of shingles, for that matter--but I'll save that for another post.

However, masonry is made from small, identical units.  They have to built up methodically, block by block (or brick by brick, as the case may be).  Making then curve reasonably takes a bit more planning and a more highly skilled mason, but it is scarcely much different of more time and material consuming that building a more typical straight wall.

The masons set up a simple guide to form the concrete block radius--a 2x4 set in the ground with a piece of rebar in the center point.

So, we designed the house with (nearly) all straight walls and roof planes, organized in two wings that have a knuckle, or inflection point, near the center of the building.  And mediating between these two wings in the front as the first element that guests touch when they arrive and last when they leave, is a simple, round porch masonry porch with a brick stair that wraps around it. And, seeing it mostly laid this morning, I believe that it will work to impart a sense of the well-made craft by which shingle style architecture is marked.

Water Missions International Walk for Water

Michelle, Samuel and I are participating in the Water Missions International Walk for Water this weekend. We've joined the team of my good friend and excellent cabinetmaker Robert Paige who, with his wife Liz, put together the Heart of the Lion team to honor the life of their son, Marley.

Water Missions International is a wonderful organization launched by the Greene family with a long history of success in bringing potable water to people around the world in locations where it is in critical supply.

Any donation would be greatly appreciated if you are inclined to help.  Donations can be made by following this link.

Many thanks.


Mt. Pleasant Residence Out of the Ground

Footings had been placed during a brief site visit on Tuesday at a new residence in Mt. Pleasant's Heron Pointe neighborhood. I made a couple of visits this week to the site of a new residence under construction in Mt. Pleasant's Heron Pointe neighborhood.  This beautiful property, one of the last unbuilt lots in the development, occupies a small peninsula with a long views across the marsh and a dock on Hobcaw Creek.  Suiter Construction is serving as contractor for the future residence designed a family with life-long roots in the community.

The block foundation of the residence is well underway, with about half of the block for the full-height foundation having been laid.

It is always exciting to see as design that we have labored over beginning to take shape in the form of new foundations.  This residence is being constructed with a ground level that is above minimum base flood elevation, allowing this level to be finish partially now and more completely as the owners determine that they need the additional space.  Thoughtful planning by the previous owner of the property a couple of decades ago, along with the addition of a couple of feet of structural fill to the lot before construction initiated, allowed this scenario.

It is good to have this one underway.

Foundation from the western end, beneath the future master suite, in Mt. Pleasant residence under construction.

Completed Kitchen in Kiawah Island Cottage

View through kitchen to adjacent sitting room at Kiawah Island cottage. We were glad to work with K & K Custom Cabinets and the general contractor, River Creek Construction, along with our wonderful clients, on this classic kitchen recently completed on Kiawah Island.

This kitchen was designed with fully-inset cabinets doors and drawers with a simple shaker-style panel. We sourced beautiful Sea Pearl granite slabs for the countertops, which allowed us to put a toe into the sometime problematic world of green hues in the kitchen without overwhelming the decor.  Sea Pearl is a fabulous material that offers the softness and movement of marble with the ease of maintenance and livability of much harder granite.

Kitchen in recently completed Kiawah Island cottage renovation.

We ran the wide plank oak flooring into the kitchen to lend cohesiveness to this cottage of modest size.  LED under-cabinet lighting complements the 2 and 3 inch LED recessed lighting that provides illumination in optically pleasing color temperature with cutting-edge energy efficiency.

Cabinetry and a window seat were fitted into the entry foyer, which opens into the kitchen. A river-recovered cypress slab bar turns the corner from foyer to the dining area.

The kitchen is located near the main entry and open to the dining and living spaces in the foreground. Photo: Jim Somerset

More photos and description of this renovated cottage may be found via this link.