The New York Times does a bang-up job of profiling idiosyncratic, slideshow-worthy, and often sustainable homes for the weekly “On Location” column. This week, it’s no different. However, it’s the location of this week's home, the industrial port city of Racine, Wisconsin, that makes for a unique story. Racine is the location of the Frank Lloyd Wright showstopper, The SC Johnson Wax Administration Building (1936). Wright, a Wisconsin native, also built the Thomas P. Hardy House (1906) here and Wisconsin, as a whole, is filled with FLW masterpieces. But in terms of new, architecturally daring residential buildings, Racine hasn’t seen much action. At all.
Then along came a new, non-conformist building, the OS House, on the shores of Lake Michigan that, for better or worse, sticks out like a sore thumb amidst a rather staid wash of Tudor, Georgian, and Colonial-style residences. Built from concrete, steel, and glass (lots of glass) the eco-friendly (not to mention voyeur-friendly) home is only the second to be certified as LEED Platinum in Wisconsin. Needless to say, it's raised a few eyebrows and ruffled a few feathers. Says architect Brian Johnsen of Johnsen Schmaling Architects, “We were prepared, if there was opposition, to show that Racine has an architectural history. And it’s not a history of mediocrity.”
The OS House boasts a geothermal cooling and heating system, photovoltaic arrays, and plenty of natural light. In fact, the home's LEED-qualifying features are so numerous that the NYT details them in an entire separate article. And then there's the home’s modest size: only 1,900 square feet. Comments the NYT: "LEED standards sometimes reward large, wasteful houses simply for using green technologies, but here green wasn’t an add-on.” Owners Robert Osborne and Vera Scekic even share a single bathroom with their two 10-year-old twin daughters. Remarks Johnsen: “I can’t think of the last time we built a house in which the family shared the bathroom.”
Head over to the The New York Times to read more about this remarkable modern home that may just shake Racine out of its long architectural slumber. Also be sure to check out this accompanying photo slideshow. How would you feel if this particular house was built right next to yours in a more traditional, historic neighborhood? Would you welcome such an audacious newcomer to the nabe? Or would you roll your eyes?
Via [New York Times]