With a three-story brick mansion to the north and a midcentury ranch to the south, the candy-colored accents and unabashedly modern form of the OS House bring a new flavor to its Racine, Wis., neighborhood. Designed by Milwaukee’s Johnsen Schmaling Architects [JSA], the 1,940-square-foot house occupies an infill lot that completes a row of houses built on the shore of Lake Michigan over the last century.
JSA was charged by their clients to design a house that respected, but didn’t submit to, its historic environs. The architects began the design process with a solid, rectilinear mass and a plan for three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a one-car garage. Volumes were subtracted from the mass to accommodate an entry court and terrace on the ground level and two elevated patios on the second; horizontal aluminum-rod balustrades on the patios define the border of the initial blocky form. Floor-to-ceiling apertures on the façade are outlined in vibrant lime, red, yellow, and orange, referencing colorful Victorian houses nearby. “What they did,” juror Joe Valerio said, “is say, ‘OK, we’re going to do this modernist piece, but it’s going to have all the scale and texture and color that you would see in the neighborhood.’ ” Ground-floor glazing allows for sight lines from street to lake, and sliding doors open onto the lakeside terrace.
As one of the first LEED Platinum residences in the Upper Midwest, the house uses geothermal heat pumps, natural ventilation, a 4.3-kilowatt photovoltaic system, and a solar water heater. Window distribution allows for penetration of winter sun and reflection of summer sun.
Juror Raymund Ryan said, “It reminded me of the Eames House, rethinking what a house could be in today’s world with new technologies and a less-formal kind of family structure.” And it may be an enticing taste of neighborhood’s future. As juror Hilary Sample said, “The kind of delight and playfulness with which we can think about living today is extraordinary.”
OS House, Racine, Wis.
Client Robert Osborne and Vera Scekic
Architect Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Milwaukee—Brian Johnsen, AIA, Sebastian Schmaling, AIA (principals-in-charge); Nick Woods (project architect)
Landscape Architect Milaeger’s Landscape Design
Structural Engineering Larson Engineering—Matt Christianson (principal-in-charge)
Photovoltaic Solar Consultant Harvestar Energy—Dean Wolff
LEED and Energy Star Rater North Star Energy Consulting—James Maletta
LEED Provider Alliance for Environmental Sustainability—Emily Aleman
General Contractor Beggi Construction
Size 1,940 square feet
Cost $273 per square foot
Photograph John J. Macaulay