Hamilton Road Residence – Auburn, Alabama

Sometimes you get an opportunity to do something important. As an Architect, creating a home place is that rare chance to establish a family legacy for a client; a legacy that can potentially be filled with the childhood memories of grandparents and great-grandparents as they reflect on their lives. Many times it is the natural process of the world that has a great influence on the development of such a place. Many times it is the world, family dispositions and some combination of planning, design and good fortune, which combine to formulate an unforgettable place. There is a  “genus loci” – spirit of a place – there, which makes it special. This genus loci is a goodness that cannot be taken away or disavowed. It is a breathing thing that can reach deeply into the heart forever. It’s the aroma of your great aunt’s rose garden, a particular arrangement of live oaks or similar sensory trigger that takes you instantly back to a special time or memory. That’s the Raison d’être for many Architects and the hope of every new project.

There are also times when great opportunities can be risky such as when taking on a project for family! The risks include disappointment, disagreement or conflict and even emotional separation. The custom residence on Hamilton Road in Auburn, Alabama is a project for my niece and her family and I thought long and hard about whether to take it on. Fortunately, and not unexpectedly, the project was a huge success and it is my sincere hope that time and circumstance may lend its good fortune into the desire to establish a great spirit in this place.

Georgia On My Mind

A good friend and college buddy contacted me recently about working with his family on the design of a new home. They had realized that although they had the capabilities to get the job done, time was just not in their favor. So, I am really happy to be involved with them in creating a new home on a great lot in Griffin, GA. I had not visited Griffin until recently and I just fell in love with the town immediately. I say town because it felt that way in the best sense of the word. Great tree-lined streets, great period style homes, really nice architecture. Beyond that, there is a sense of place there – a Genus Loci – that everyone is intuitively familiar with but cannot necessarily describe. It felt comfortable and just relaxed enough to not feel like a bigger “city.”

The design? Well, the architecture of Rosemary Beach was a passion of theirs, as well as the southern charm of Georgia architecture, and, in my mind, the challenge was to capture the essence of the spirit of Rosemary Beach, Dutch West Indies inspired architecture, which has great details, sweeping roofs, outdoor rooms and transparency, with the history of architecture established in the region – Georgian, Colonial, Federal. As it stands now, I think we are beginning to develop a worthy blend. See what you think. (Stay tuned for more to come as we push further into the finished product.)



East Elevation


South Elevation – private rear of lot


North Elevation – entry elevation facing Springer Drive

The structure on the right side of the North elevation is a covered parking shed that is framed on the ends by a brick wall. On entering the site, a motor court area establishes the arrival and the parking pavilion links to the house via a workshop and covered walkway. There is a Thunder House structure that establishes a symmetrical balance, teaming with the Workshop building, about a centralized exterior Veranda (all ideas of the client) where this space will make for great family memories over the next several years. That’s why we as architects do this – to have a chance to give people the opportunity to make memories. In the worst and the best of times, these memories are like Honeysuckle nectar on spring day.

Mountain Brook Home Resurrected

Mountain Brook has so much to offer and it’s really exciting to have a project opportunity there. A little while back I began doing some preliminary sketching for a couple who really wanted to do a few things like renovate their kitchen, maybe create an outdoor room on the back of the house and a few other things. This property is absolutely amazing! The back of the house has multiple terraced levels of landscaping with both lawn, hardscape & pool and is surrounded by woods. So private and exclusive. As I began the task, it was clear that it would be a fun client to work with and the result could really make a difference to the house as well as the way they would live in it. Of course, the existing house is a larger home and the clients had reservations about making it larger and holding the value of the property. They hoped to not out build the marketplace in the area. As we got further into the design it really became more about creating something special for their lives now. It didn’t hurt that across the street a new contemporary home was under construction that would help increase the “comps.”

This particular client had had a couple other architects do some initial concepts for them and, for whatever reasons, it just never turned into a construction project. So the task was a challenge in the sense that just the right amount of work, creativity and close listening was necessary to make the project a reality. Ultimately, we found a great balance and the project was built. Carefully adding exterior space, a reasonable amount of utility functions, with an unexpected benefit of interior volume, led to a successful project.


Utility Room with a view into Veranda

Utility Room with a view into Veranda

The basic style of the home is Dutch Tudor but the rear has an unusual shed dormer addition on the right side so it was a challenge to develop an overall new addition that blended materials and language. The brick was no longer available so a close alternate was chosen and glazes added to give the right color and sheen adjustments. The Veranda and Office perch above helped to tie the rear new and old pretty well. The entire asphalt shingle roof of the home was replaced with wood shingle. Matching the paint colors also added to a good blend. We cut out a portion of the stone surround at the front entrance and removed part of the exterior wall and added a sweeping overhang. The overhang allowed for a timber bracket support detail and the custom wood and glass entry door tied the composition together very well.

Hopefully another Mountain Brook installment will follow soon! Peace.

Gateway to Opelika

PresBdPresBd2GN-Perspective1 GN-Perspective2

I thought I would begin to share a few projects from recent years that I”ve neglected to post. This particular study was done at the request of Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller. His idea was to create a presence on Highway 280 to announce Grand National, the convention center and home of the Robert Trent Jones golf course. As we sketched through some ideas, the project evolved into a Gateway project for the City of Opelika and involved a tower landmark and included a monumental entrance at the intersection of Grand National Parkway/Shelton Mill Rd. & US 280. Sadly the funding partnership did not come to fruition and the project stalled. There is always hope that an important project like this could revive!

Update to “A Delightful Discovery on Shades Crest Rd.”

The Yancey Residence has been published in Birmingham Magazine! Other publications are also in the works so keep a look out for that in the near future. This project, for me at least, is a great example of what collaboration can produce between architect and contractor when you have a visionary client with great style!



House on Lake Martin

A very nice couple from Birmingham purchased a great lot on Lake Martin and have asked us to create a homeplace for them and their two young boys. This is not the first project I’ve designed or been involved with as a designer on this lake but it is the first for studiosmith Architecture LLC. As a part of the Dungan Nequette Architects team, I was involved in the design of a few of the newer homes in the Russell Lands development, Ridge Run. I also designed 3 speculative lake homes in The Ridge for Simpson Davis Construction back in 2007 – just before the market crash. They were never built.

I’m very excited about this home because it is just around the corner from where I grew up on the lake and I will get to see it every time I leave the dock for bigger water! The Owner’s were looking for something that is very intentional, simple and elegant with great craftsmanship of detail. The property is elongated and narrow overall and has many trees so it was very important to situate the house to capture the morning sun, minimize the brutal west blaze during summers and maximize the views and outdoor spaces in order to really enjoy the lake. We are in the schematic design phase right now so more later. I’m including a few of the exterior design images.  Thanks for stopping by!W2 S2 E2

2014 East Alabama Living Showcase Home at Beaumont: Auburn, AL

Front Exteriorstudiosmith Architecture LLC is set to team with Dilworth Development of Auburn, Alabama once again to design the Showcase Home for East Alabama Living Magazine. We had great success together in the design of s2Arch’s first Showcase Home in 2011 (see previous post). The design and marketing was able to procure a buyer for the house before the design work was completed. These homes are designed and built as speculative projects and the goal is, naturally, to provide an attractive product for a broad range of prospective buyers in the area. The design planning can be difficult because as an architect your goal is to design a great home for a client and in these cases, the developer, realtor and other professionals with skin in the game become the client.

Development Logo

Development Logo

This year’s home is set to be built in a new Auburn neighborhood for which we designed a series of homes to establish an architectural character, created a logo for the neighborhood and provided a streescape rendering for marketing.

Streetscape Rendering

Streetscape Rendering

Some of the architectural character for the development: House1-Front H2-Front Check back for the development of this home. Also see http://www.dilworthdevelopment.com for the developer/builder as well as East Alabama Living magazine as they highlight this project in a four-part series. Feel free to contact us or comment on this post post. Thanks for visiting!