The home sits on one of Hyde Park’s most elegant streets, and although modern in appearance, it is separated by only a century from the neighboring homes whose architectural styles span more than a millennium. Rather than mimic one of these established styles, the design does exactly what makes each of the earlier homes unique: it expresses the technology, lifestyle, and culture of the time in which it was built.
The exterior is rendered in a palette of materials derived from the adjacent homes: dark iron-spot brick, substantial limestone trim, mahogany windows and weathered zinc. The front includes elements common to many of the older homes on the block such as a porch-like terrace, a gracious stair, iron railings, and double-hung windows. It also uses time-honored techniques, barrowed from some of its large neighbors, to conceal its size and height by breaking up the roofline and manipulating the volume so that modestly proportioned façade is presented to the street.
A clearing in the trees that stretches across the back of the lot and runs behind adjacent homes is the focal point for the private rooms at the rear. The axis of the floor plan radiates from this clearing creating interesting spatial relationships. For example, the slight rotation of the elliptical dining room creates a pinch point in the hall connecting the entry foyer at the front to the family room at the rear. This narrowing gently reinforces the separation of formal and private spaces while preserving a view from front door to backyard. This skewing of the plan can be seen on the exterior, where an angled wall extends from the front vestibule out onto the terrace.
Breaking with convention, the main stair ascends from the rear family room rather than the front entry foyer. This unusual stair placement allows a visual and audible connection between the first floor family room and the bedrooms upstairs. The kitchen itself sits within the family room and consists of two concentric half-round islands. This island-within-an-island arrangement creates a generous amount of perimeter space, accommodating back-to-back storage, an eat-in counter and space for the whole family to cook together.
On the second floor the curved stair lands in a two-story gallery space lit by clerestories. The bedrooms open onto the gallery, which leads to a cantilevered balcony overlooking the family room. Another curved flight ascends to a home-office space which is open to the gallery below.
The design strives to connect elements that architecture has traditionally been used to separate: building to neighboring building, exterior to interior, room to room and, most importantly, family members to each other.