Few people in Rochester know and appreciate the background of the Mayo Woodlands development. Back in the day, this was a nationally award-winning development plan for a new style of living. The Progressive Architecture award given to this broad landscape design was only the 3rd such award ever given to a landscape design in 30 years. I won't get into the details of the site development concept suffice it to say it was brilliant. If you are so inclined, you can read through the document here. The New York Times then wrote about how it was not so well received locally in this article published in 2004:
The timing was clearly off. Rochester was not (still isn't?) ready for such a project. The lot sales were slow, and ultimately the entire development was sold and the concept behind the original design was jettisoned. Various monstrosities were built that were far from 'Excel'lent. Despite that, there are several beautiful, modern homes that exist out there.
This past year, 9.SQUARE was fortunate enough to work with a new client who wanted to build a modern home and had even purchased a lot on the same cul-de-sac as the original Tim Alt and David Salmela home from 2004.
Through some explaining of the underlying design concepts and ideas meant for Mayo Woodlands, we convinced them to design their home in the manner in which the original lots were intended. And with a reliance on clean, minimal finishes for the interior, we called up our friends at Design Studio B for yet another collaboration. Finally, they desired to have an extremely low carbon footprint and a home design that was very sustainable. So we teamed up again with Christian Milaster of Project Licht N Stein fame and our Off-the-Grid House, The ingredients were prepared for a robust design process. Away we went!
By now, if you are familiar with 9.SQUARE, you know where we started: with explorations of multiple arrangements of the Conceptual Design.
The site has a unique wedge shape that elongates toward the west, with a narrow throat for entry on the east. The west edge is bordered by a street giving this property two "fronts." It also has two homes immediately to its NE and SE on the cul-de-sac. After reviewing these concepts in light of the various site constraints, we began to focus on refining the concepts by attempting to create spaces that:
- blended interior and exterior living/entertaining
- were private
- blocked views of adjacent properties to feel more secluded
- accommodate a separate flat for parents to stay for months at a time
- maximized passive solar design techniques
- minimized site development
The plan we began to develop simplified the access/entry and squeezed the living spaces down to a compact footprint. We then wrapped the architecture around two exterior courtyards which were now private from the road and neighbors yet also immediately accessed from the main living space.
After that, we began to borrow some visual cues and precedents from the previous Mayo Woodlands home designs to bring this new home into dialogue with the others. The size, layout, and proportions were all studied to mimic and complement the original design intent, while at the same time customizing it to satisfy all of our client's design goals.
Together we designed a distinctly modern home with abundant natural light, exquisite passive solar aspects, and crisp, clean detailing. One that we are very proud to have been a part of. The project hopes to break ground this summer.