Projects   Project Portfolio - Unbuilt Houses - April 2006
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House on the Lake
St. Joseph, Mich.
John Ronan Architect

Long lot will contain a lot of house

Courtesy John Ronan Architect

For more images click on 'photos & drawings' above.

Although this project is called the House on the Lake, it is really a house half on Lake Michigan, half on a street in the town of St. Joseph, Mich. To be completely accurate, due to an interesting erosion and sand deposition phenomenon occurring in the lake, the house may one day be quite a bit further from the shore than is currently planned: a house formerly on the lake, if it is indeed built at all.

The house’s changing relationship to the water is caused by a pier a little further down the shoreline. Beaches to the south of this pier are eroding, while beaches to the north are gradually getting longer. This house will be sited to the north of the pier on a lot that, over the past half century, has grown from roughly 120 feet long to more than 500 feet long.

The house’s form, an attenuated box, takes its cue from the lot’s elongation, but its shape also has practical benefits. The main rooms will be located on the lakefront end of the property in a three-story volume that affords all rooms a view of a nearby lighthouse. The massing then recedes down to one level at the house’s center section, which encloses a swimming pool, and rises back up again at the street-facing end of the building, which will contain guest quarters. The clients, a couple from nearby Chicago, plan to retire and occupy the main part of the house, while their college-aged children will use the guest quarters—close, but far enough away to give the family members privacy and the freedom to maintain different schedules.

Much as the lakefront site determines this house’s volumes and form, it also influenced architect John Ronan’s choice of fenestration and materiality. Along the north elevation, which will be battered by harsh winds, he laid out a series of slit-like windows. The warmer south elevation, by contrast, features expanses of glass and an open patio area. As the house will be constantly sandblasted, Ronan chose to clad it in copper treated with an accelerating agent that produces a camouflage-like patenation.

The clients currently maintain a small vacation house on the site that will be demolished to make way for the new building. Construction is expected to begin by 2007.

Formal name of building:
House on the Lake

St. Joseph, Mich.

Gross square footage:
9,200 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:
$2.5 million

Jody and Brad Kapnick

John Ronan Architect
320 W. Ohio Street 4E
Chicago, IL 60610
312.951.6600 tel.
312.951.6544 fax

Lead designer and principal in charge: John Ronan
Project Team: Oscar Kang, Bradford Kelley, Sonja Mueller, Evan Menk

Structural: Robert L. Miller Associates
MEP: Building Engineering Systems

General contractor
Lakeshore Enterprises

Oscar Kang, Sonja Mueller

CAD system, project management, or other software used
AutoCAD 2006

Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtainwall: Duratherm
Wood: Teak

Metal: Revere Copper

Wood: Duratherm

Glass: Viracon

Wood doors: Duratherm

Locksets: FSB
Hinges: Baldwin
Closers: LCN
Cabinet hardware: Hafele

Downlights: Juno



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