2011 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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Combs Point Residence | Notes of Interest

The residence at Combs Point is sited in a diverse natural world of lake, forest, valley, and stream. It is both a center of activity and a quiet retreat for a family that treasures life on the lake.

From the fanning delta at the lake’s edge, a delicate necklace of buildings stretches through a forested glen that leads to the waterfall at its head. An elevated boardwalk follows the twisting course of the stream as it connects the buildings and eventually dissolves into a path leading to the falls.

Upstream, the guesthouse and office-exercise structures inhabit the narrow valley meadow with its forested edges. Mirroring the path of the nearby stream, these utility and activity spaces are clipped to and detached from the main house. They share simple massing and wood siding, discreetly revealing the composition of the roof structure. Downstream, the main building’s large living space opens to a full view of the deep lake, broad sky, and weather. With their longer spans, the primary spaces are framed robustly in wood and steel. The southern glass wall extends toward the waterfall at one end while focusing on the lake at the other. A linear steel beam projecting through both east and west elevations marks circulation. The beam is the fulcrum of the south edge that inflects upward to catch the sun above the ravine’s rim.

Slipped into the site with a light touch, the residence and its outbuildings possess a transparency that reveals the richly varied qualities of this natural place.

The project employs an extensive list of sustainability features, adding to its respectful relationship with the land. The building layout itself is even ‘kinked’ to accommodate existing trees and vegetation. The buildings’ string-like nature minimizes the footprint, keeps the width compact, and allows the program to sit gently on the site with minimal impact.

Additional Credits

  • Civil Engineers: Hunt Engineering
  • General Contractor: Pennwood Construction and Developement
  • Landscape Architect: Michael Vergason Landscape Architects,Ltd.
  • MEP Engineers: Altieri Sebor Wieber, LLC
  • Structural Engineers: CVM Engineers
  • Photo Credit: © Nic Lehoux

Combs Point Residence

Jury Comments

There is such good adaptation to the natural setting. The geography and topography of the site are taken elegantly into consideration.

It flows like the creek itself-- the house laces down the ravine, climbing towards the view. Beautiful.

This is a linear plan that ends with a great exclamation point!

2011 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Katherine Austin, AIA, Chair
  • Katherine Austin Architect
  • Sebastopol, Calif.
  • Claire Conroy
  • Residential Architecture Magazine
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Jackson, FAIA
  • Historical Preservation Agency
  • State of Illinois
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Luis Jauregui, AIA
  • Jaurequi, Inc.
  • Austin, Tex.
  • Marilys Nepomechie, FAIA
  • Florida International University Miami
  • Coconut Grove, Fla.

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