SUNSET HILLS RESIDENCE | GENERATOR STUDIO
Located in Kansas City’s historic Sunset Hills, the site is the former practice fields for The Pembroke Hill School at the turn of the 20th century. In time, the flat site grew dense with foliage.
Designed for empty-nesters, the plan of the home balances daily use with the ability to entertain at a larger scale via dramatic interior spaces showcasing their artwork. Public spaces are separated in plan and massing from private spaces.
One of the challenges this project posed was conveying the client’s desire for contemporary design and materials in a stoutly historic neighborhood. According to founding partner and design director Tom Proebstle, "A core design philosophy for us is to build smaller so that money saved can be reallocated towards finer material finishes," both inside and out. This can be a contentious topic with clients, but an important discussion to have because new modern homes in neighborhoods like this are usually subject to public review by the local neighborhood association. "Making it clear to the neighborhood association that adequate dollars are being spent on quality exterior materials is critical in gaining acceptance," says Tom.
Exterior stonework anchors the home to the ground, then extends inside. Through the use of generous glazing, nearly every room extends back out to a landscape adorned with massive existing trees, allowing diffuse light to permeate throughout the home.
Sustainability attributes include carefully placed glazing resulting in minimal use of electric lighting. According to the client “…the lights are never turned on.” Locally quarried Kansas stone reduced bulk shipping, and two geothermal wells provide year-round air comfort.
When it comes to residential projects such as this one, “it is a real privilege to be invited into the family dialogue to help create a built story, unique to each client,” says founding partner and chief architect, Mike Kress.
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