The Case Study House program, initiated in 1945 in Los Angeles, remains one of America’s most signi cant contributions to architecture at mid-century. The motivating force behind the program was John Entenza, a champion of modernism and editor of the avant-garde monthly magazine Arts & Architecture. Entenza envisioned the Case Study effort as a way to offer the public and the building industry models for alternative housing designs in the modern idiom, foreseeing the coming building boom as inevitable in the wake of the drastic housing shortages during the depression and war years. Using the magazine as a vehicle, Entenza’s goal was to enable architects to design and build modern houses for actual clients, using innovative materials from industry and new techniques from manufacturers, and to extensively publish and publicize their efforts.
Conceived as experimental modern prototypes, the 36 designs of the program epitomized the aspirations of a generation of modern architects active during the buoyant years of American’s post-World War II building boom. By its end in 1966, the Case Study House program had succeeded in producing some of the period’s most important works of residential architecture. Today, the Case Study Houses continue to have wide relevance and influence within architectural culture, not only in Los Angeles, but also nationally and internationally. These houses, and the spirit behind them, serve as a model for architects committed to reductive, yet experimental modes of residential design and construction.
It is with this inspiration that Domain 3, led by Peter Nicholas of the Nicholas Design Collaborative www.nicholasdc.com, take lessons from these noble architects and bring them into the creation in this project located in Highland Park, Illinois. We share the spirit of these visionary thinkers and are committed to a reductive, yet experimental residential design and construction. We are also devoted to energy efficiency, sustainability and durability. The project contains four single family residences configured around a center auto court.
Constructed of low or no maintenance materials, manageable and usable gardens, and ease of access for both residents and visitors. The houses define the auto court, but also embrace private outdoor rooms that extend adjacent interior spaces. These private indoor/outdoor spaces are protected by a permeable, woven patterned brick wall, which provides privacy and well as ventilation for these spaces. This allows for expanses of picture windows, doors, and free owing open plans.
Community is encouraged by the arrangement of spaces around the auto court, akin to a European piazza, which allows pedestrian and vehicular access but also acts as a place to share experiences with neighbors. It is the ultimate location for a block party.
Parking is abundant with six visitor spaces in addition to each unit having an attached two-car garage, with an obscured glass door to allow natural light to enliven the garage interior.
A modern lifestyle is reinforced by chef worthy kitchens sharing spaces with dining rooms adjacent to indoor family rooms and outdoor lounging areas—lines between indoor and outdoor are blurred, entertainment is fluid and quality of life is enhanced. Gardening is manageable; buyers can develop container gardens in private courtyards or plant flower gardens to complement the well-developed base plantings.
Floor plans are designed for all walks of life, but with special attention paid to the aging in place population. First floors are located at grade level for easy access and contain the usual living, dining, kitchen, and mudroom that one would expect, but also the laundry room and master suites with double bathrooms and closets. Additional bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the upper level.