Architectural practice
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Date: 1994 – 1995

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Design notes:

Containing slightly more than 3,500 square feet and built for less than $35 per square foot (at least until the trim, finished floors, and finished stair were installed years later), this house embodies the following principle of low-cost construction: that an exploration of design ideas can occur within the discipline of conventional building technologies.

The primary design ideas have to do with the articulation of vertical surfaces within the house; the interpenetration of horizontal and vertical planes defined by walls and floor assemblies on two levels; the definition of functional zones and circulation spaces within an essentially open first-floor plan; and the expression of the structural bearing wall along the center-line of the house. The owners' passion for symmetry and for the symbolic elements associated with the homes they grew up with (e.g., covered porch; ceremonial stair) became guiding influences throughout the design process.

Technical notes:

The heating system for this house consists of recycled wall-mounted cast iron steam radiators from Cornell's Caldwell Hall, re-fitted for hot water. A sub-slab depressurization radon mitigation system was built into the house, and was activated with a centrifugal fan in the attic space when subsequent testing indicated a concentration of radon greater than 4 pirocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). The house was designed to conform to New York State's Energy Conservation and Construction Code: glass area was limited to reduce heat loss in the winter and control heat gain in the summer; spectacular views to the west were carefully framed to avoid uncomfortable glare from the setting sun; every window in the house is fully operable to promote through ventilation. A traditional steeply pitched roof form was designed to provide a properly ventilated attic space and avoid potential problems of interstitial condensation. The hipped roof form was chosen to minimize the impact of uplift in high winds — this is of special concern since the house is sited in open terrain, largely unbufferred by trees or other structures.

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