Wood House In Chicago / Miller Hull Partnership

© Miller Hull Partnership

Architects: Osterhaus McCarthy
Design architects: Miller Hull Partnership
Location: ,
Interior design: Kara Mann
Project area: 5,200 sqm
Project area: 2010
Photographs: Becky Midden, Marty Peters

© Miller Hull Partnership

Conceived as a series of boxes containing the private family spaces (bedrooms and baths) and a free floating and open main level containing the shared family spaces. The main floor is a series of stepped planes, lifted up above a partial basement, that incrementally steps up and bridges over the rear yard to the garage roof deck. A day lit basement contains guest suites, home theater, and play area.

concept plan 01

The approach was to use materials in appropriate ways – concrete and masonry where the building touches the earth, steel for height and span, and a light wood frame everywhere else, resulting in a hybrid system of steel primary members and wood secondary members. The design of the home sought to express as much of the steel and connections as possible.

© Miller Hull Partnership

The dramatic Southern elevation is centered on a three story curtain wall with a perforated steel screen for privacy. On the main living level, a skylight runs the length of the home on the North elevation, maximizing the passage of natural light, despite the building on the lot directly adjacent. The interior and exterior spaces seamlessly engage each other from a wide spanning bridge connecting the main living area to the garage roof deck, making efficient use of this Chicago city lot. The main living level is centered around the kitchen, an elevated area that functions as the command center for the home. The living room comfortably sits on one side of the kitchen, while the dining room sits on the opposite side.


Dividing the dining room from a home office at the front of the house, are three 12 foot tall steel doors hung on sliding tracks from the ceiling. The doors are inlaid with glass portholes of varied sizes and fondly referred to by the home owners as “Swiss cheese” doors. They easily slide away into a pocket allowing them to completely open the office to the rest of the living area. The lower level contains a two story rear foyer with a 18 foot tall wall of casework that’s height stretches into the living room, creating shelving to display objects and art above and storage for coats, gloves, hats and boots below. The lower level also contains a playroom, two guest suites and a home theater. The upper level features the family’s 3 bedroom suites and a small study. The stairs leading up to the roof deck are encased in glass and open to a private roof top garden with dazzling city views.

Cite: "Wood House In Chicago / Miller Hull Partnership" 01 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=100293>
  • tweetie

    it seems like the chicago lot prototype design has been a bit played out. boxy, central/sideyard southfacing courtyard, rear yard to detached garage with roof deck, etc. i understand that there can only be so much one can do within the bounds of this model/constraints, but i’ve just grown so bored of it already. seems like a mixture of john ronan’s concrete prototype house competition and the castinplace concrete house he built in lincoln park…

  • Birdie

    Bored? So do something new. Many tend to complain without lending any real constructive thought but resort to whining that there isn’t anything new and flashing in their area on their favorite arch site. No one is saying we should reward mediocrity but this is hardly the case.

  • Scott

    I think it’s a good project overall. No – it isn’t a big award winner necessarily, but not everything should be. If every building was a signature building – there would be no such thing. Seems comfortable and well proportioned overall.

  • jmcyang

    I don’t get that it’s that much like either of the Ronan houses, other than the type as you mention. The steps going up to enable the bridge to the garage roof deck is one of the main things here.