2020 Archives | AIA Atlanta

More Mid Century

A young, energetic couple purchased a classic 1963 house originally designed by a prominent Atlanta architect. Two additions over the years had eroded the original design intent. 50 years of wear and tear had taken their toll. The owner’s intent was to revive and transform the house while maintaining its original design integrity and room layout. It is a great example of starting with the good “bones” of the original house and using surgically precise changes to create a dramatic difference in livability and aesthetic delight.

Exterior renovations are minimal. Shuttered windows at the entry were re-opened and a crisper, two-tone paint palette brings out the linear nature of the house. The existing creamy, ivory paint colors muted the house’s presence. Layered grays bring out the richness of the original ochre brick color.

The central “pavilion” includes the foyer, dining and living areas within a 12’ ceiling. A visually heavy and opaque center element that divided the three spaces is replaced with a sculpturally crisp white “pylon” and oak/granite serving counter. Living, dining, and foyer now flow together while retaining their distinct identities. Layered views from space to space and into the landscape visually expand the house. The existing masonry corners flanking each side of the fireplace are replaced with mullionless corner glass for the full height. This seemingly small change creates a fluid indoor/outdoor connection between the living area and pool/landscape beyond.

The Charles

The Charles is located in Buckhead, Atlanta, and is situated where Paces Ferry, Roswell, and Peachtree roads intersect, creating a complex, triangular site. The design team embraced these site constraints to inform the unique and dynamic qualities of the building

The 18-story tower features 56 luxury condominium units and ground-floor retail and office space. The design creates a singular image and living experience that changes by orientation and view, culminating in a signature staggered balcony profile on the Peachtree Road approach.

By creating seamless interior to exterior living, every unit is afforded spectacular skyline views of Buckhead, Midtown, and downtown Atlanta in multiple directions. The building rethinks the very nature of luxury urban living on one of the most prominent sites in Atlanta.

The challenges for The Charles arise from the site geometry, urban edge conditions, and views to the larger surrounding context.

While ultimately becoming inspiration for the dynamic, angular design, the triangular site also presented a difficult set of challenges to the project. Two of the three sides of the site are bordered by Peachtree Road and East Paces Ferry Road. The design team recognized very early in the design process that the building would need to respond to both significant urban conditions with active ground floor uses. This meant that all the service and access would need to be accommodated on Boling Way. Furthermore, the small triangular footprint meant that the parking had to be above the ground floor active uses and access would be difficult. The solution was to design a series of straight and curved vehicular ramps through the ground floor service spaces and residential lobby. With parking high above the streetscape, this allowed the design team to create a decorative screening device for the parking structure that enhances the dynamic design aesthetic without interfering with the active uses at ground level.

Up in the residential tower, the challenge was to blur the boundaries between indoor/outdoor living while maximizing views for each unit. The initial concept was to provide each residential unit with a corner condition. With five units per floor, the design team knew the geometry would have to be manipulated from the simple four-square diagram. The resulting geometry reflects the angular nature of the site and allows each unit to benefit from a corner condition. Views were confirmed with multiple drone flights prior to design completion. Every unit has a large terrace that takes advantage of the corner condition with large Nanawall folding glass walls that allow the residents to extend their living space into the outdoor terrace.

House in the Berkshires

In the Berkshire Mountains of Northwest Connecticut, on a wooded hillside with a pastoral view, the landowner wished to build a house that would blend with the natural surroundings and feel indigenous to its site. Using a natural palette featuring stone and wood, the architecture was composed to blend with the topography and to create a series of interior spaces that were in harmony with the landscape in which they were placed. The making of the building involves the expression of craft and those that made it – masons, carpenters, blacksmiths and the like.

The goal of the design was to express nature through the assembly of its component parts, with a palette of materials blending with its surroundings. Wood and stone were extracted from the site, alongside of other similar materials chosen to reflect harmony with the natural and indigenous surroundings.

As the site was prepared for construction, stone was removed and stockpiled for use in the construction of the walls that rose from the ground, supporting the house’s structure of wood, steel, and glass. The configuration of structural elements and their connections is honestly expressed, allowing the viewer to read of the logic of the structure. Symbolically, a not-quite-straight oak tree trunk column was placed beside the front door, signaling the entry, and contrasting straight steel columns and beams were inserted alongside to support the new structure.

The Ardyn Townhouse

The Ardyn Townhouse project re‐imagines a small, irregularly shaped corner lot in one of Atlanta’s oldest historic neighborhoods. The 10‐unit cluster is situated along one of the city’s major residential thoroughfares, capitalizing on the opportunity to maximize urban density where a single‐family dwelling once stood. The project brief was short, but clear; the developer client has a well‐established/branded aesthetic that was to be maintained without compromise. The caveat to this requirement was that the project needed to be both sensitive and responsive to the architectural language of the surrounding neighborhood, its homes wrought largely in the century-old Arts & Crafts style.

The design also seeks to investigate alternatives to the typical monolithic “block” that is ubiquitous in contemporary townhome construction. In an effort to better articulate the overall mass and breakdown its scale, the end units of the block are sliced and pulled away, creating new opportunities for circulation and access within the remaining interstitial space. These spaces create a distinct threshold between the public and private realms. The mass of the blocks is further carved away at the top floors to create private rooftop spaces for each urban unit, a reference to the “Fifth Façade” proselytized by Le Corbusier. Wood-clad, cantilevered living spaces are extruded at the corners of the blocks, a direct counterpoint to the stereotomic carving of the roof. These “pulled out” volumes also serve to maximize views from the interior while bathing the primary interior spaces in natural light.


Human connections run the world, having the power to shape how our society understands each other and grows. The idea of creating organic opportunities for people to connect was a main driving force behind the design of Vantage, a 471,000-sf, 984-bed mixed-use student housing development in North Philadelphia adjacent to Temple University. The 19-story building offers an impressive 28,570 sq. ft. of amenities that include a robust study center, expansive indoor/outdoor fitness center, and 18th floor Sky Lounge with 270-degree views. From its outdoor lawn to a seating terrace connecting 32,331 sq. ft. of retail with anchor CVS Pharmacy, and Chase Bank, this best-in-class new development has truly revitalized two of Temple University’s busiest off-campus thoroughfares. Now a vibrant hub of activity, Vantage serves its residents, the Temple campus community at large, and surrounding public schools.

The materiality of the project pulls vibrant red accents from the adjacent phase one building. Extensive glass curtain wall façades fill the interior spaces with natural light and maximize downtown views while sleek metal panels reinforce a modern influence. Exposed steel columns add variation and rhythm to the façade while allowing for the creation of voids strategically adjacent to the fitness center and building entry. Each column is anchored by a dramatically lit perforated metal panel that transforms the space at night to create usable areas where residents enjoy spending time. The property’s interior was designed with a heavy hospitality influence, resulting in a curated collection of upscale amenity offerings atypical for student housing.

Natural History

For a decade, the owners of this large estate near Charleston focused on stewardship, undertaking conservation projects to preserve sensitive river habitat. They then turned to the creation of a home, one that would be fitting of the land and place. Yet, for this site with a long and complex history, they envisioned a home that would be more about welcome and ease than impressions or tradition. Weaving a narrative of generational additions and adaptive reuse, the architect layered multiple moments of invented history by deconstructing the residence into three separate structures (connected only by outdoor ‘hallways’).

The centerpiece is the grand pavilion, its great hall, river-facing storytelling room and kitchen all scaled for entertaining. This hub of an active family and social life, however, was intentionally designed without sleeping quarters. These can be found in two subordinate brick ‘outbuildings’: one a gracious owners’ suite, the other two guest suites. The three pavilions frame a traditional courtyard garden, striking a first impression of ‘approachable classicism’. In contrast to the traditional front façade, the rear expresses a more contemporary layer of history. Behind the Greek Doric columns that once may have framed a river-facing veranda, a wall of steel and glass floats from end-to-end as a modern counterpoint. By mixing the high style of 19th-century Greek Revival with moments of vernacular inspiration, the architect created a home that feels formal and informal at once, its authenticity derived from scale and proportion and the implied passage of time.

Moccasin Creek Residence

The client sought a home that exuded the charm and warmth of an older home while incorporating modern amenities, better flow and more spaces that engaged the lakefront setting. And, it must all fit within a restricted footprint on a linear lot. How to create a home that’s both new and old?

Something new: Columns made from peeled locust trees support the front porch and its shake roof. A glass-and-stucco vaulted entry with Tennessee fieldstone frames a dramatic vista through the living room to a 20-foot removable glass wall showcasing Lake Burton and the mountains beyond. The stucco and stone floor palette of the entry carries into the spacious kitchen and dining area adjacent to a large stone pavilion with fireplace and dining area. A sun/moon deck above the living room offers a quiet outdoor retreat for sunning or an afternoon nap. The upstairs can host a crowd with three bedroom suites and a sleeping loft.

Something old: Tennessee fieldstone walls, reclaimed timber beams and wood floors complement a Tennessee fieldstone fireplace in the living room. Locally sourced reclaimed chestnut lines the walls of the powder room. The master suite and study offer a rustic old world feel with reclaimed wood and timbers . Off the kitchen, a two-story lightwell defines a rec room with walls and ceiling made of reclaimed wood. The boathouse, designed by the architect in 2016, now complements the home’s color and material. The roof and color of the pre-existing garage were updated to match the home.