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.

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.

Cassique Residence Advances

Cassique Residence in progress from across the lagoon. A new residence in Cassique is advancing along, with the slate roof installation underway and the mechanical and electrical rough-ins complete.  Open cell spray foam insulation has been placed in the wall and roof cavities, readying the interior for the installation of finishes soon.

The 12' ceilings of the Great Room were sized for correct proportionality.

New Seabrook Island Residential Design

Front Elevation of new Seabrook Island residential design We began the new year with a very positive reception by our clients for a new design for their Seabrook Island property.  This residence has an inverted floor plan, with the living spaces and master bedroom designed at the second living level, or about 20 ft above grade.  A pool and spa was requested to be on the second level, a very unusual arrangement that will require significant engineering to carry out.  From this level, it is possible to have a view of the ocean a few hundred feet to the southeast.

East elevation of new Seabrook Island residence, with summer house and infinity edge pool/spillway to the right.

The second level also features a detached summer house that can be completely opened up, serving a pool house, gentlemen's lounge, or sports viewing pavilion, depending on the season. The pool will have an infinity edge and tall, tiled spillway on axis with the view toward the ocean.

The key site feature is a handsome double Live Oak which has a significant presence in the front half of the lot.  While limiting the use of much of the build able footprint for the property, it will provide a comfortable setting for the residence from the outset. A thorough mapping of the tree's main branches, in lateral orientation as well as height, was the first key bit of site analysis that we performed in advance of developing the design.

West Elevation of new Seabrook Island design.

Working with Excellent Landscape Architects: Recommended

Design collaboration with Verdant Enterprises, the landscape architect on this beachfront Kiawah Island design. As an architect, I realize how critically important landscape architecture can be to provide the proper setting for a design.  That is why we always recommend to our clients that strong consideration be given to retaining top landscape design talent.  Working with Verdant Enterprises, as we did with the Kiawah Island "Healthy House" just completed this fall, was key in maximizing the potential for this site and the attributes that it contained.  Thomas Angell and his staff worked carefully with the architecture, incorporating the clients' particular wishes and needs for their utilization of the site.

Lake Katherine renovation in Columbia, Sc with landscape architecture by Sheila Wertimer Landscape Architect

We have also had great experience collaborating with top talent like Sheila Wertimer Landscape Architect and Outdoor Spatial Design in Charleston. Charles Stick opened our eyes to the site making potential of a 24 acre Charlottesville estate site.  It is a very important aspect to creating and making architecture that maximizes it potential and relationship to its particular context.

Residence in Charlottesville, Va with landscape architecture by Charles Stick Landscape Architect

Framing Complete, Windows Installed at New Cassique Residence

One of two waterfront elevations of new Cassique residence under construction. Regular site visits on Kiawah last week took me to the new Cassique residence under construction by Kingswood Homes. The framing has been completed and the new Henselstone windows and doors have been installed.  The first load of slate roofing material is due to be delivered this week.  Kingswood is handling construction on this residence very well so far. It is nice to see the structure come together.

Master bedroom with Henselstone windows newly installed.

The developing courtyard elevation; views of a spa, infinity edge pool, and lagoon will be available from the principal living spaces being the loggia.

Second floor bedroom; every principal space in the residence has available natural light from at least two sides, which among other things helps to minimize the effects of glare.

The Great Room has 12 ft ceilings and opens up into the kitchen, at the opposite end.


Johns Island River House

Rear Elevation of new residence designed for a five acre riverfront site on the Stono. We wrapped up a busy 2013 with the completion of the conceptual design for a new residence designed for a beautiful site on Johns Island fronting the Stono River.  After spending considerable time on the site several weeks before analyzing the best views, we returned again to map the footprints and inclinations of the many grand live trees on the site.

The program, in brief, was for a residence of 3,000 sf +/- of conditioned space over one level, with an office, library and studio over a garage. The outdoor spaces were as important as the indoor for a couple that actively engages with the outdoors and loves to entertain guests, including frequent visitors from Italy. We were able to produce a design of 2,800 sf of conditioned space that can be expanded into the second level if our clients or subsequent owners so choose.  The emphasis was on simplicity of form and construction, taking cues from vernacular Lowcountry residences and agrarian structures.  Outdoor spaces include a fenced courtyard garden in the front, covered and screened porches in the rear, and an arbor deck with a trellis above and fireplace to the side.  We carefully sited the house around the trees and were able to do so with the elimination of only one tree of significance (a 20" pine).

Conceptual floor plan for riverfront residence on Johns Island.

I met with our clients to present the design a couple of days before Christmas, and was pleased that they suggested celebrating over a good bottle of prosecco. It was a nice way to lead in to Christmas and to wrap up 2013.