Highland Park, IL
Situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, this design responds to the beauty and bluster of the lake by creating two worlds. One is oriented to the sunrise, water, and changing views of the lake, while the other is turned inward toward a courtyard that captures the warmth of the sun and provides a contrast to the severe lakefront weather. The strong forms of the house express the two worlds: its curved courtyard facade tears away from the glassed, three-story rectangle facing the lake. The important rooms - living room, dining room, family room, master bedroom, office and hallways - have exposure to both the courtyard and the lake. A three-foot-thick brick wall curves through the house, a modernist metaphor for the separation of the man-made from the natural.
The house subverts the traditional suburban pattern, which presents the front yard, front facade, and garage to the street. Here, very little of the large house is visible to the community. The circular courtyard, separated from the street by a garden wall, replaces the normal open and unused front yard with a private exterior landscape. Cars enter from the side behind the curved brick wall that contains the garage, directly accessible to the house but out of sight.
The house is designed as a sequence of layers, in which the seasons and weather are as much a part of the experience as the normal activities of daily life. The plan lends itself to large-scale entertaining and family reunions, and also creates comfortable quarters for a couple living by themselves.