studiosmith Architecture

Mountain Brook Home Resurrected


Mountain Brook has so much to offer and it's really exciting to have a project opportunity there. A little while back I began doing some preliminary sketching for a couple who really wanted to do a few things like renovate their kitchen, maybe create an outdoor room on the back of the house and a few other things. This property is absolutely amazing! The back of the house has multiple terraced levels of landscaping with both lawn, hardscape & pool and is surrounded by woods. So private and exclusive. As I began the task, it was clear that it would be a fun client to work with and the result could really make a difference to the house as well as the way they would live in it. Of course, the existing house is a larger home and the clients had reservations about making it larger and holding the value of the property. They hoped to not out build the marketplace in the area. As we got further into the design it really became more about creating something special for their lives now. It didn't hurt that across the street a new contemporary home was under construction that would help increase the "comps." This particular client had had a couple other architects do some initial concepts for them and, for whatever reasons, it just never turned into a construction project. So the task was a challenge in the sense that just the right amount of work, creativity and close listening was necessary to make the project a reality. Ultimately, we found a great balance and the project was built. Carefully adding exterior space, a reasonable amount of utility functions, with an unexpected benefit of interior volume, led to a successful project.

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Utility Room with a view into Veranda

The basic style of the home is Dutch Tudor but the rear has an unusual shed dormer addition on the right side so it was a challenge to develop an overall new addition that blended materials and language. The brick was no longer available so a close alternate was chosen and glazes added to give the right color and sheen adjustments. The Veranda and Office perch above helped to tie the rear new and old pretty well. The entire asphalt shingle roof of the home was replaced with wood shingle. Matching the paint colors also added to a good blend. We cut out a portion of the stone surround at the front entrance and removed part of the exterior wall and added a sweeping overhang. The overhang allowed for a timber bracket support detail and the custom wood and glass entry door tied the composition together very well.

Hopefully another Mountain Brook installment will follow soon! Peace.

Gateway to Opelika

PresBdPresBd2GN-Perspective1 GN-Perspective2 I thought I would begin to share a few projects from recent years that I''ve neglected to post. This particular study was done at the request of Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller. His idea was to create a presence on Highway 280 to announce Grand National, the convention center and home of the Robert Trent Jones golf course. As we sketched through some ideas, the project evolved into a Gateway project for the City of Opelika and involved a tower landmark and included a monumental entrance at the intersection of Grand National Parkway/Shelton Mill Rd. & US 280. Sadly the funding partnership did not come to fruition and the project stalled. There is always hope that an important project like this could revive!

Update to "A Delightful Discovery on Shades Crest Rd."

The Yancey Residence has been published in Birmingham Magazine! Other publications are also in the works so keep a look out for that in the near future. This project, for me at least, is a great example of what collaboration can produce between architect and contractor when you have a visionary client with great style!


2011 East Alabama Living Showcase Home

Belcastel Showcase Home

East Alabama Living Magazine annually selects a builder and architect for its Showcase home and for the 2010-2011 year, studiosmith Architecture, LLC and Dilworth Development, Inc were selected as the featured team. The full spread feature included articles and photographs of the design and construction process across its Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer issues.

The project is a new community in Auburn, Alabama called Belcastel. It is actually a single street at the end of Fairway Drive, a prominent and high profile street in the Moores Mill Golf Club community. The street is built out on one side only as the homes face a utility easement. Working with the builder/developer, studiosmith Architecture, LLC conceived of the theme, developed the property layout and designed the branding and marketing for the community. Design elements included the master plan, logo, marketing material and imagery as well as street lighting, entry monument, onsite marketing sign during construction and landscaping ideas.

The easement was allowed to maintain its natural foliage and landscape, while the edge of the street was bordered with a paved sidewalk and large stones are sprinkled along the street. This creates a very nice natural feature that is an amenity to the community rather than an a typical easement. The landscape makes for a picturesque view from within each home.

The feature design project was the Showcase Home designed as a custom speculative residence. The idea was to showcase the design process where a team works closely together to marry a custom approach to residential design with the common aspects buyers look for in a home. Architect, builder, interior designer, marketing and realtor each played a significant role in determining how best to provide a high end custom residence, while also paying close attention to the buyer market. Naturally, the design experienced modifications along the way based on the input from the research and experience of each team member and the result was quite good. Although a few truly custom aspects of the design were changed, a buyer came aboard before the conceptual design was complete. In this way, the project was a successful venture.

The design concept was to, first, create a structure with a timeless feel and old world charm. The basic request from the builder was a French inspired theme for the community and this home. It was very important to establish a sense of place and a home that had mass and presence. Brick, stone and heavy timber are the primary materials used to give the home a feeling of longevity. Of primary import to the design were natural light deep into the home, privacy for the master suite, an open kitchen with adjacent keeping room, outdoor living space and entertainment areas.

The end result is beautiful and really captures the essence of what the team was looking to achieve, which was an elegant and timeless home that creates a sense of place. See future posts for construction photos. Enjoy!