Editor’s Note: The Mecklenburg Times, in partnership with the American Institute of Architects Charlotte section, asked area architects to create a suburban home that represents Charlotte, drawing on history, culture, natural resources and climate. It was to have a construction value (not including the land) of $300,000 and be for a family of five with a dual-income couple. Some of their elevations, floor plans, site plans and explanations will be included in the print edition of The Mecklenburg Times; additional images and explanations can be found on this website, where you can also vote on your favorite design.
A team from 505Design with “help from Saussy Burbank” was the only submitter to explicitly draw on the region’s textile mill history for its inspiration, in addition to drawing upon its natural resources in agrarian past.
“While studying these three main concepts, it was readily apparent that they great influenced both regional residential architecture and the way that we live today,” said the team in its submission of “Run-of-the-Mill House.”
The team included John Oxenfeld, Alan Aschenbrenner, Jim Babinchak, James Ross and Samantha Buell of 505Design, is headquartered in Boulder, Colo., employs 12 people in Charlotte, and also has an office in San Francisco.
The company has worked with Saussy Burbank for more than five years, and the house design “was informed by our past work with them as well as their input on the market, feasibility, and cost,” Oxenfeld said in response to emailed questions.
505Design partnered with LandDesign, which does landscape architecture and civil engineering, to create the master plan for Riverwalk in Rock Hill, S.C., as well as homes and buildings there. The company also led the rebranding effort through environmental graphic design for the Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte.
In its use of red brick, numerous and closely spaced windows, and simplicity, Run-of-the-Mill House does indeed conjure the multitude of both abandoned and repurposed mill buildings that dot the region’s landscape.
Asked whether having such a large team made it difficult to come up with a singular vision, Oxenfeld said: “505Design has a unique visioning process that involves precedent and imagery research, along with a focus on understanding the emotive qualities of our ideas. We feel that the more voices in this conceptualization process the better – conversation and debate only make a vision richer. Therefore, it wasn’t a matter of settling on one concept or the other, but rather bringing many ideas together into a vision.”
Because we asked these architects to create a vision and translate it into detailed illustrations and workable floorplans for no pay, we also had to ask: What made you decide to submit a design?
“I think there has been a lot of what some people would call bad or generic design amidst residential markets in the past 20 years,” said Oxenfeld. “Charlotte, as well as many communities around the country, are dotted with homes that are of poor design, simply don’t have the right style for that area, or just did not execute the details correctly. I think that sort of ‘vanilla’ residential design is what inspired us to think of a ‘Charlotte House’. We’ve had the benefit of working with a very talented builder in Saussy Burbank and their craftsmen to create, what we feel, are really appropriate and well-designed homes for their markets.”