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.

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.

Old Mt. Pleasant Renovation Underway

Future kitchen, living and dining spaces in 1950's Mt. Pleasant renovation The renovation of a 1950's Mt. Pleasant ranch house just off of Coleman Boulevard is beginning to take shape.  We hope that the re-imagination of this solidly built little house will serve as an attractive example for modern Mt. Pleasant living, sited as it is within a stone's throw of the hulking The Boulevard development.

We investigated the feasibility of a few design schemes for adding necessary space for a growing family to the existing residence.  In the end, we chose to retain the bones of the existing structure while adding necessary space to the rear that will complement the existing architecture.

More and more these days, similar residences are being completely razed to make room for significantly larger structures.  We can certainly understand the economics of it, as the values of the land beneath the homes in this great neighborhood are skyrocketing. However, we do regret that the character of the neighborhood is changing while the architectural fabric is being hauled to the landfill.

This house, for example, will be 60 years old next week.  Solidly framed and simple, it was in need of a complete renovation, as all of the electrical and plumbing systems were original and it was purely devoid of any wall insulation.  The original single paned aluminum windows, though handsome, were too inefficient for the owner's to bear retaining them. With exception of these changes, the simple mid-century structure will remain intact. We were able to leverage the low-sloped roof for adequate and comfortable ceiling volume in the main living spaces while making no structural changes to raise the roof.  A pair of additions to the rear of the residence are adding a new master suite to one side and a mud room and laundry space to the other. A new roof with deep overhangs will cap the existing front porch and stair, retained in the interest of economy.  We're glad to see this under way.

Mt. Pleasant Residence Completed

Screened porch and NW corner of new Mt. Pleasant residence We're very happy for our Mt. Pleasant clients who are moving into their newly completed Olde Park residence.  While still punching out some elements of the interior, the new landscape material has been installed to provide a welcome setting for this new home. Here are a few quick exterior shots.

Newly completed residence in Mt. Pleasant's Olde Park neighborhood.

North Elevation and breakfast bay from the rear of the residence.

This live oak with great gnarled character is treasured by the new homeowners.


Can we 'scape this dirt patch

Old Park Residence, nearing completion and ready for some landscaping relief. Quick trip yesterday by the new residence in Mt. Pleasant's Olde Park neighborhood. A lot of the final elements went in this week, including cabinet doors, some exterior rails, shutters, and decorative light fixtures.  This week, the interior will be given over to the floor finishers, who will finish the antique reclaimed oak material.  Outside, the landscaping installers will put in the plant material around the walks and driveway, which have already gone in. Regular collaborator Evan Brandon of Outdoor Spatial Design has been working diligently to fit the design to the budget allotted for the landscape.

Side of residence with carriage house behind

The screened porch, with views of lake in front and marsh in the rear, is completed.

Stair hall from the third level


Stripping the List in Mt. Pleasant

Third level multipurpose room It is going to be a big week at the Olde Park residence in Mt. Pleasant.  After a few of the new trees were planted, the Town of Mount Pleasant issued the C.O., enabling the house to be powered up.  With the air conditioning now on, other finish work can proceed.  This week, the decorative light fixtures will be installed, final painting will take place, landscape plant material will be installed, and remaining exterior rails will go in.  Next week, everybody clears out for the floors to be sanded and finished.

I went by the house on Saturday to visit with my clients, who were in the process of stripping the protective film from the interior and exterior window glass.  Yes, I contributed by stripping one window, so they can't say that I haven't helped.  It is good to see the light stream in appropriately and the views out taking shape as intended.

The back stair fills the volume in the hyphen connecting the main house and carriage house, which contains the master suite.


New Mt. Pleasant Residential Design Takes Shape

New Mt. Pleasant residence from south east. Rendering: Harrison Wallace for Tyler A. Smyth Architect, LLC The design development for a new residence on a magnificent lot in Mt. Pleasant is complete.  Intern Architect Harrison Wallace produced the 3-D model to help us to better understand some of the more complex geometries and to better explain the design to the interested parties.

Rear elevation addressing the long views toward Hobcaw Creek. A large screened porch with fireplace, adjacent covered grilling porch, and pool with ground level grill room mark this side of the residence. Rendering: Harrison Wallace for Tyler A. Smyth Architect, LLC

We are now engaged in the development of details and the soon will be into the production of construction documents. We're so glad to have the opportunity to work with great clients on this unusual property. We grateful that the good people at Suiter Construction recommended us to their clients, whose family they had worked successfully with in the past.

Entry elevation, viewed from south. Rendering: Harrison Wallace for Tyler A. Smyth Architect, LLC

Bird's eye view from Southeast. Rendering: Harrison Wallace for Tyler A. Smyth Architect, LLC

Northwest elevation, with master bedroom having commending views of the marsh and river from the first level. Rendering: Harrison Wallace for Tyler A. Smyth Architect, LLC

Beaming Up in Mt. Pleasant

Antique repurposed oak beams at Olde Park kitchen and living room beyond. Work is progressing well at the residence under construction in Mt. Pleasant.  Moyer Fountain and his team from Fountain Timberworks dressed and fit the reclaimed oak beam material installed in the ceilings of the living room and kitchen. The living room received four large beams, while the kitchen was fitted with two large summer beams with several smaller beams fitted in between with properly made mortice pockets.

Living Room in Mt. Pleasant residence takes shape.

Kitchen looking toward breakfast room; 8" shiplap finishes the walls.

At the same time, the rest of the house is being trimmed, the tile is being installed, and the exterior painting is being completed. The completion of the painting above the projecting roof areas at the front of the residence has allowed the copper to be finished there.

Master Bedroom with poplar ceiling

Last of the hand-crimped copper hips being finished by Skyline Roofing personnel.

Front elevation of Mt. Pleasant residence coming together.

Screened Porch roof, dining room and second master bedroom bays in front have fresh copper as the roofing is completed.