Designing this Chicago residence was an exercise in creating a sense of privacy within an urban neighborhood, while providing an abundance of open, bright space. The first floor is defined by floor-to-ceiling views from the garden in the front to the courtyard at back, from living room, to kitchen, to media room. The second floor has private spaces with northern and eastern light, appropriate for comfortable sleeping spaces. The third floor provides solitude for working and adjacent outdoor areas of repose that encompass views over the courtyard, the neighborhood, and to the city skyline. Together, they comprise a rational and inspiring response to basic needs of living, sleeping and working. The house is organized in an L shape. On the first floor, the living room is a two-story volume on the southeast with a ceiling height of sixteen feet. A large lay-light of patterned acrylic filters the natural daylight from the skylight above. Full-height windows and doors line the east and west sides of the room. These openings, together with the birch trees planted along the front fence and the visual depth of the courtyard, create an experience of seamlessness between indoors and out – which is highly unusual in an urban residence. Weathered copper panels hang above the fireplace in the living room and also continue to the exterior, where two panels are operable for outdoor storage and stair access to the roof deck. The other leg of the L is a three-story volume that runs along the north side of the property. Millwork boxes separate the various functions on the first floor. Acoustical plaster is used on higher ceilings, and the lower millwork ceilings have a random, perforated square pattern to absorb sound - a derivative of the pattern language of the exterior copper screen. Black granite defines the perimeter circulation, and blocks of end-grain walnut infill the center floor areas. An elegant open riser stair, built of walnut wrapped around a steel plate, is illuminated by natural light from a skylight above and a large punched window on the first floor below. It ascends to the privacy of the bedroom floor, which has a similar material palette to the first, but where the first floor is open and animated; the second floor is quiet and subdued. It is truly meant as a bedroom floor, where the rooms are generous but not grandiose – contemporary in detailing, yet comfortable and warm.
The third floor is accessed by a simple wooden stair behind a flush millwork door at the end of the second floor hallway, and houses a private study and guest suite. Each space has its own deck and green roof with views to the sky and courtyard below. Here the windows are a continuous band of buttglazed clerestories that provide an ethereal quality of light to the interior. A small fireplace in the study, combined with the walnut flooring and millwork continuing into this area, evokes a traditional library environment.
Project: Wood House
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Building Area: 7,900 square feet (house), 1,500 square feet (garage)
Completion: May 2013
Architecture Studio: Brininstool + Lynch, Ltd.
Design Team: Brad Lynch - Design Principal, Dan Martus - Project Manager, Dena Wangberg - Project Architect, Joice Krysak, Hillary Hyson, Eirik Agustsson
Contractor: Goldberg General Contracting, Inc.
Consultants: Goodfriend Magruder Structure LLC, Structural Engineering, Moshe Calamaro & Associates, Inc., Civil Engineering, AA Service Company, Mechanical Engineering, Coen + Partners, Landscape Architecture
Photography: Christopher Barrett Photographer