Barton Parkway House

The project was an extensive reconfiguration and remodel of an existing house that was originally built in the 1960s.  The existing house was a disorganized framework of fragmented rooms with dark interiors.  Although the backyard featured a large prominent oak tree with a very straight posture, the existing interiors where wholly divorced and disconnected from it.  The design strategy was to open up and reconfigure the interiors by organizing them along a highly detailed wood feature wall, which orients the residents of the tree.  was a nice Mid Century Modern house in Barton Hills with a previous master suite addition over the garage and 80’s kitchen redo.  The plans called for integrating that aesthetically unfortunate addition with the original house and opening up the public space with walls removed and roof line raised over the kitchen/dining area. The original footprint remains but new mechanical, electrical, windows, and finishes make it feel like a new house.  The wood feature wall made of pecan that starts outside at the front door, passes through glass and curves in and out leads to sitting area and then the kitchen.  It hides a door to the new office, hallway to the kids side, as well as the TV behind a sliding panel.

New entrance with new brick on the right side salvaged from the demolished chimney.  New siding and windows hide the old garage, now a kids play room with separate music studio for the family band. Pecan feature wall with original Crestview door and new ribbed and clear glass windows. View from the front door with the pecan wall wrapping around the baby grand family heirloom Steinway. The pecan panel is a touch latch door to the office. The floors are a 5" wide engineered pecan floor. View with the door to hall and kids rooms. There's a pocket door with a grain matching panel that lines up with the wall when closed.  The roof above was lifted to add high windows and vault the original ceiling. The built in cabinet at the end has a cubby for each child with a bank of plugs in the top to collect phones.  Waterfall granite counter with bar seating. The yellow hood is a stock unit painted to match one the owners fell in love with on a trip to Italy, for a third the price.  The double doors right of the fridge hides a 30" deep liquor cabinet with risers for bottles, glass storage, and a laminate counter for easy cleaning.  Classic MCM dining table with views out new windows. Standing in the kitchen the upper windows perfectly frame a limb on the massive live oak outside.  Kids play/game room with band practice room beyond the glass doors.  Girl's room with ground and polished concrete floor. The 3 daughters got to pick an accent color for the exterior wall in all their rooms.  One of the mirror image Jill and Jill bathrooms for two of the girl's rooms. The frosted shower door hides a shared shower with skylight.  This whole back yard used to be a red stained deck. Now the huge live oak can breath a little better, there's a 10' deep covered patio to eat and lounge on and the new cedar "wall" makes it more like a backyard room

Internally the house comprises simple spaces adaptive to living patterns over time. The rooms are white to maximize the light and punctuate the beauty of the lushly planted lot. Externally the house appears as a play of cubic volumes uniformly wrapped in a rugged weathering steel cladding. 

This project was an extensive reconfiguration and remodel of an existing house that was originally built in the 1960s. The existing house was a disorganized framework of fragmented rooms with dark interiors. Although the backyard featured a large prominent oak tree with a very straight posture, the existing interiors were wholly divorced and disconnected from it. The design strategy was to open up and reconfigure the interiors by organizing them along a highly detailed wood feature wall, which orients the residents to the tree. The resulting transformation is a house that is integrated into the landscape; that features flexible, spacious interiors with abundant natural light; and that showcases clear, logical entry sequences with thoughtful relationships between the interior and exterior spaces.


Date:  2011-2014
Gross floor area: 1,700 sf (160 m2)
Client:  Private
Architect:  Charles Di Piazza Architecture
Collaborating Architect: Chris Cobb
Design Team: Charles Di Piazza, Chris Cobb, Nick Jackson
Structural Engineer: Leap! Structures
General Contractor: Square House Building
Photography: Paul Bardagjy