• Featured,  Form

    The wood workers

    There’s a certain sense of comfort created in a home natural wood finishes and accents can invoke. As an architectural material, the rich color and materiality of natural wood causes an instant change in structural style, aesthetic, and feeling when it is applied to the exterior or interior of a home. More so, its malleable qualities allow it to take nearly any shape.  In the small town of Comins, Michigan, in the heart of a more-than-century-old timber industry, the team of craftspeople at The Woodworkers Shoppe Inc. specialize in creating collections of architectural and household wood products from locally grown and harvested species like White Northern Cedar—a naturally termite and…

  • Featured,  Form,  Interiors,  Residential

    The crafted climb

    With a well-tuned eye for detail developed by an early introduction to the art of carpentry and further honed by a 15-year specialization in stair systems, Matthew Conrad, design and installation specialist at Stair System Specialists in Saginaw, Michigan is no stranger to the craft. From compelling works of art designed to last and engaging stair systems unified with—and enhance—the architectural personality of a space, Stair System Specialists works to create solutions aligned with space, budget, and a vision blending beauty and function.  While initially pursuing carpentry before working specifically as a trim carpenter for a regional high-end custom home builder, Conrad developed an affinity for the grand entrance of…

  • Featured,  Form

    The waterfront chateau

    There is a quiet palatial air to this lakefront home perched on the sloping topography of its Green Lake site. Upon approach, elegantly curved lines are visibly juxtaposed with clean-lined peaks in the roof; rich, blue, cedar shakes are contrasted with lighter stonework and white trim; and a surprising element of warm millwork welcomes those to the front entry. From the lake, a turret rises three-stories tall, complete with a winding exterior staircase guiding footsteps from the upper deck to the grotto below.  On the interior, a staircase with floating treads allow an immediate visual of Green Lake beyond, exposed beams stretch across ceilings, heated tile wrap the floors, and…

  • Creative Endeavors,  Featured,  Form

    Light inspiration

    Artistic parallels are often drawn to architecture, building on a core function that began as a shelter building practice. It has offered opportunities for the creation of artistic and poetic alludes through structure, and modern materials—and their innovative evolution—have furthered the tradition when things such as acoustics or light are applied to a space.  What began as a poetic exploration of light, shadow, and space manipulation during a thesis project at the University of Michigan for Abhinand Lath, founder and president of Sensitile Systems in Ypsilanti, Michigan, resulted in a patented, groundbreaking architectural innovation. Since then, Sensitile Systems has become an award-winning, internationally recognized manufacturer of glass, resin, and terrazzo…

  • Design Spotlight,  Featured,  Form,  Print Edition

    Thread in transit

    The multi-modal transit system is intended to support the urban core—not unlike a buttress to a wall—and the dynamic economic, cultural, and social activities that take place there. It interacts with the complex spatial structure of larger cities, ultimately becoming inherently entwined with the day-to-day operations and life in the diverse tapestry of its built landscape.  In Chicago, the transit-intensive city has become not only multi-modal in nature, but also inter-modal as many of its residents, visitors, and working populations leverage more than one mode of transportation for a single journey—bicycle, pedestrian, bus, train, automotive, and waterway, to name a few. Perhaps its most iconic infrastructure though is known simply…

  • Featured,  Form

    The suburban contemporary

    Located off of a main road in downtown Petoskey, Michigan, a spacious contemporary residence by Edgewater Design Group LLC invites double-takes and generous glimpses into its artfully remixed interior. Populated by bespoke design elements and a diverse docket of programmatic needs, the home was created on the combined sites of two former residences—one of which was recycled—and speaks its mind in the setting without being pretentious, according to Stephanie Baldwin, president, owner, and designer at Edgewater Design Group in Petoskey. “This client definitely wanted something that had a ‘wow’ factor to it, but wasn’t obnoxious and in-your-face,” Baldwin said. “We kept with a lot of the traditional rooflines as far…

  • Architecture,  Featured,  Form,  Print Edition,  Residential,  Spotlight

    The dune house contemporary

    Beyond its sleek and sophisticated exterior, this Visbeen Architects Inc. residential project lives comfortably larger than its footprint through intentional and strategic design. The ability to capture a client’s dream with a conceptual drawing and translate the two-dimensional design into an architectural reality requires a combination of creative vision and technical skill that few possess. However, it is what has defined the rather comprehensive portfolio of Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal and founder of Visbeen Architects Inc., and his architectural design team for nearly 25 years.  Visbeen Architects is an award-winning, Grand Rapids-based, full-service architectural firm with additional offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Bluffton, South Carolina. While the firm is known for…

  • Featured,  Form

    Classically refined

    When Rich Bloem, founder, owner, and project manager at Homes by True North in Grand Rapids, Michigan, arrived at the site of a prospective tear-down residence in South Haven, Michigan, a walk-through told him the home would be worth saving. Originally completed in 1940, it bore characteristics of the Federal style—an influential design movement of the late 1700s—and held significant potential at its core, according to Bloem.  “I went through the house and it was old and outdated, but I looked at the bones of the house, if you will, and it was just amazing the way it was built,” Bloem said. “I said ‘you don’t want to tear this…

  • Architecture,  Featured,  Form,  Print Edition,  Residential,  Spotlight

    Rich welcome at Cass Lake

    Set on a waterfront peninsula, this Cass Lake residence is a warm and artful interpretation of a contemporary seaside villa. There is a careful courtship as one moves from the limestone-and-iron front gate featuring a custom design by an artisan in the Middle East, to the circular drive before the grand entrance, where lush, tropical greenery, cement tile roof, glass, and a warm, textural stone exterior greet the viewer in V-shaped layout.  At a glance, it is defined by its more than 1,000 feet of lake-frontage, low-sloped rooflines, unique massing and rounded corners, and an exterior of Minnesota-sourced Vetter stone and commercial-grade, aluminum-sash, bronze-tinted glass windows and doors. Its distinctive…