Despite the picturesque views, the lakeside plot posed a challenge, not only because of a 40-foot elevation difference between the road and lake, but also because of the Baha’i Temple next door. Rising 135 feet in the air, this monumental Chicago landmark is a show-stealer—the gorgeous spherical building is a curious oddity in the suburbs and the only surviving temple of its kind in the U.S. Rather than compete with the temple, the House to the Beach serves as a foil to the ornamental monument with its minimalist and subdued facade.
The white four-story home gradually steps down from the street to the lakeshore and is partially buried in the earth. The topmost two-story structure closest to the street contains the garage, a gym, and a guest suite and is shielded from the street with a windowless facade. In contrast, the lake-facing elevation features large windows that let in natural light and frame picturesque views. Accessible green roofs, which double as suburbia-inspired lawns, spread out on the roof terraces. The house requires less energy than a similar building of its type and size thanks to the copious amounts of natural light; efficient insulation from the surrounding earth and green roofs; geothermal heat pumps; and a network of rooftop solar hot water panels.
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“The house is about the transition from suburban streets to lakeside beach on this unusual site,” write the architects. “There are overlapping journeys provided by the house, from working world to family life, from formal to informal, from public to private worlds.”
Images via Gluck+, © Paul Warchol