2011 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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OS House | Notes of Interest

Located in an old downtown neighborhood in Racine, Wisconsin, this 1,900 square foot house for a young family demonstrates how a small, sustainable residence built with a moderate budget can become a confident, new-urban constituent and a harbinger of change.

One of the first LEED Platinum certified homes in the Upper Midwest, the house occupies a narrow infill lot along the edge of Lake Michigan, completing a row of residences built over the last century. Based on massing studies testing the building’s performance in relation to site constraints, program, accessibility to sunlight, shading, stormwater management, and vegetation, the building is a simple rectangular volume that mediates between the three-story mansion to the north and the mid-century ranch to the south.

Unlike the opaque nature of the adjacent homes, the main level glazing allows for a visual connection between street and lake. Portions of the compact mass were removed to create a number of outdoor rooms – an open entry court, elevated patios accessible from the upper level, and a shaded main level terrace, all confined within the boundaries of the rectangular volume itself. The upper part of the house is wrapped in a rainscreen of thin concrete panels suspended between a pair of horizontal steel channels, creating an eight-inch deep ventilated envelope with superior protection from the elements.

Along the edges of the outdoor rooms, the façade system transforms into a delicate scrim of thin aluminum rods, subtly defining the spatial boundaries of these spaces without obstructing any views. A series of floor-to-ceiling apertures penetrate the façade system, their bright colors an unapologetic nod to the cheerful polychrome of the neighborhood’s Victorian homes.

Additional Credits

  • Photo Credit: © Johnsen Schmaling Architects

OS House

Jury Comments

Artful, thoughtful addition to its historic context; it masters the contrast to its surroundings.

This projec is well-proportioned and full of delight in space and views.

A truly high-performance house that makes its point subtly.

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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