Like the Hardy House (RA14), this two-story residence, with its pronounced rectangular geometry, stands out from the South Side Historic District like a work of abstract art in a museum of old masters. And yet, as they cantilevered a box over a box, the Milwaukee architects created a modernist masterpiece. The striking upper level juxtaposes solidity and transparency. Nearly blank walls of fiber-cement panels on one side anchor an airy screen of steel wires on the other; these metal strands enclose an inset balcony off the master bedroom, defined by a board-and-batten wall. Openings of varying widths highlighted in crayon colors—orange, yellow, chartreuse, and red—give a nod to the De Stijl, an early-twentieth-century art movement that employed rectangular forms and primary colors. On the ground floor, a glazed room opens onto a view of Lake Michigan. At the rear elevation, an oak-clad, square box, containing a small office, protrudes from the plane of the cement-board walls, emphasizing the building’s marked asymmetry.
This was only the second house in Wisconsin to earn LEED Platinum certification, the highest rating given by the U.S. Green Building Council. Geothermal energy drawn from wells drilled deep into the earth provide heating and cooling; photovoltaic arrays in the backyard generate electricity; and solar drapes and shades, when drawn, insulate glass walls. The house also boasts bamboo flooring, a solar water heater, soy-based insulation, and other “green” materials.