Located within a few blocks of the campus of Northwestern University in the suburbs of Chicago, this modest sized courtyard house is wrapped almost entirely in brick. Chicago “Common” brick, as it is known, was chosen because they look different from typical red bricks - a result of the geological composition of the indigenous Lake Michigan clay and the way in which it is fired. It’s variegations and irregularities made “Common” bricks unattractive, cheap and an abundant resource—a prosaic building material used in places generally obscured from the street such as side and back walls, chimney flues, and structural support behind facades. Conversely, the brick at the Thayer House is highly visible and featured as a prominent design element. The street facade is organized in vertical twisting columns to create an ever-changing pattern of opening and closing as light moves across and thru the facades. As the viewer passes by the home, the façade creates a moire-like pattern that appears to be constantly in motion. Depending on one’s location, the porous courtyard façade courtyard can appear open and welcoming while also feeling closed and private. This allows glare free daylight to penetrate into the building through glazed surfaces behind them, as well as creating a glow from within when the lights are on at night. Light seeping through the brickwork produces a shifting geometric pattern of light and shadow on the walls and floors of the rooms, circulation areas and neighboring structures that alters throughout the day.
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