Located on a twenty-three acre site in southwestern Michigan that reminded the owners of familiar Connecticut landscapes, this 5,000 sq. ft. house is set along a sandy ridge that commands views across a succession of natural spring ponds to the woods surrounding the Galien River. The vernacular of this region of small farms and family vineyards informs the design. The basilica/barn shape with its clerestory/monitor windows allows light to flood the interior. The material shifts from metal sides to concrete ends is a direct reference to shifts used on eastern residential antecedents while the industrial materials of corrugated steel, standing seam, and concrete coupled with “barn red” accents reinforce the Midwestern farm metaphor.
Processions of rooms that are symmetrically disposed progress on axes and cross axes thereby permitting continuous vistas from one end of the house to the other as well as cross ventilation. French doors terminate these axes extending views into the landscape as they provide access to outdoor terraces and screened porches with plantings of native wildflowers and prairie grasses.
Practical concerns also inform the design choices. Radiantly heated limestone floors are environmentally beneficial as well as serviceable for small grandchildren. A ceiling of fabric panels in the great room as well as doubled drywall improve acoustics for one octogenarian owner, and all rooms on the ground floor are accessible. Visitors approach the house through a meadow of indigenous prairie plants and trees designed by Maria Smithburg of Artemisia.