Sunshine Canyon house design, Boulder

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This is a custom house that I designed when I was a principal with Arcadea in Boulder. I have been overseeing the construction for over a year now and we still have a year to go. It is a large, courtyard-centered design on a steeply sloping site along Sunshine Canyon just west of Boulder, Colorado. See the earlier post called “Timely” for some discussion about the design influences and intentions.

The masonry is coming along quite well and the mechanical and electrical work is about to begin. The contractor is Cottonwood Custom Builders, project supervisor is Scott Reardon.

Photo by Mark Gerwing, 2007.

Charlottesville design Competition

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Earlier this year I collaborated with Mary Guptill, Nick Fiore, and my wife Kate on an architecture competition for a section of Charlottesville, Virginia. The competition was to look at two blocks just off the downtown pedestrian mall including the weekly farmer’s market. Our solution was to place primacy on the market and a creating a park to contain it, giving it life throughout the week. The remainder of the site was designed as on-grade retail spaces, upper office and residential spaces and a below grade parking structure.

Unfortunately the juror committee choose projects that radically increased the amount of retail and residential space, at the sacrifice of the market. The selected schemes developed the two blocks significantly higher, 6-8 stories, than the surrounding 2-4 story buildings. I think we all felt very strongly that the new construction should harmonize with the existing range of buildings, not dominate it.

And, we really believe that the opportunity to make significant public spaces, green spaces, in a section of the city without any, surely should trump conventional development.

I am dissappointed that we did not win (although we were chosen among the public’s top ten favs). However, I would not have increased the density of building on this site to do so.

Competition boards by Mary Guptill and Nick Fiore, 2007.

Boston, 1991

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Between undergrad at the College of Architecture at the University of Kentucky and grad school at Yale, I spent a couple of years living and working in Boston. I was attracted to the history of the place, a bit put-off by the unrelenting snobbishness.

For a while I lived on the poor side of Beacon Hill and walked down Charles Street and across the Public Garden to work in the Backbay.

This is a quick sketch of the Public Garden from the pond edge – unfinished on a cold day.

Watercolor sketch by Mark Gerwing, 1991.

Chicago, 1999

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The finest panorama in all of Chicago I think is from along the immediate north shore looking back to the city. The Hancock Tower looms large and the contrast between the man-made vertical edge of the city and the flatness of the lake is severe. This is a quick sketch done on a warm September day. I moved to Chicago after graduate school and really continued my education there among the bold and sophisticated architecture of Sullivan, Wright, etc. and the vast landscape of strong, confident, anonymous industrial buildings.

Sketch by Mark Gerwing, 1999.

Sunshine Canyon house, architecture and temporality

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This is a project currently under construction up Sunshine Canyon, just west of Boulder, Colorado. It is part of an ongoing interest of mine in time and building, a kind of phenomenal temporality. By that I mean that the rather than trying to design a project that is “timeless” or certainly that has faux finishes and materials to make it artificially aged, I designed the house to be a series of linked buildings that are individually simple, vernacular forms but in combination raise questions of their making. Each building’s details and forms are not strictly consistent but rather make a theme-and-variation syncopation. Making a building with the capacity, maybe the insistence, for multiple readings and interpretations lends a layered identity to the project. Taking cues from the owners and the basic phenomena of the site, the project steps down a steep, rocky hillside, part village, part house. The courtyard creates a internalized, domestic landscape that then extends and projects itself out to the site and the world beyond.

Computer model by Mark Gerwing, 2006.