Stewart Bennett, owner of Ampersand Construction, describes it best: “This house was designed to exhibit artwork, but it is a piece of art in and of itself.” The Bird Key beauty was built for form and function, using unconventional materials requiring minimum maintenance and unusual methods demanding exact execution.
From a design standpoint, the stone and glass monolith is considered modern architecture, a specialty of DSDG Architects. However, it is a custom design, asserts architect Mark Sultana, “Every house we do is one of a kind. Others may have similar finishes, but we’ll never do exactly the same thing twice.” Because his clients did not want the cold and stark look often associated with modern architecture, Sultana dressed up the home with features like coral stone and Dizal wood-look aluminum siding, dubbing the result “warm modern.”
From a building standpoint, Bennett explains the challenge presented by modern architecture. “Modern is a beast within itself. There is less interior detail, but it is that much harder to build because everything must line up perfectly – you can’t hide anything with trim!”
Bennett illustrates the challenge that the building process posed, offering the trimless doors as an example, “The finished floors have to be installed first, even before the drywall. Then comes the framing, then the baseboard, and finally the drywall. The baseboard is inset, it’s actually flush with the wall. On top of that, this design called for an abundance of floor-to-ceiling glass. The math had to be spot on, the installation perfect. I’m not going to lie, it gave me some gray hairs!” he chuckles.
The need for clean lines, minimal maintenance, and durable finishes is understandable — the home was designed for a large family. “They had been looking for something to accommodate their family, but there was nothing ready-built available where they wanted to live, which was on the water,” explains Sultana.
They finally found a canal-front corner lot on which they could build a big enough house, once they tore down the original 2,215-square-foot ranch house built in 1968. In its place, Sultana designed a 7,300-square-foot home on the .42-acre pie-shaped lot. Almost every room has a water view. With all of the bedrooms on the second floor, the owners left the ground floor windows uncovered.
Intimately involved in choosing their own furnishings, DSDG Architects’ interior designer April Balliette provided the owners with selection assistance on the finishes, cabinets, light fixtures, and tile, “Things you can’t walk out of the house with!” concludes Balliette.
*Feature cover image: This house was designed to exhibit artwork, but it is a piece of art in and of itself. The Bird Key beauty was built for form and function, using unconventional materials requiring minimum maintenance and unusual methods demanding exact execution.
The rooftop deck is accessed by a stairway with concrete treads crafted by BeNNettles Concrete Design. “We had to crane the steel stringers over the house. That was nerve-wracking!” exclaims Bennett. Rising through the first floor to the roof above, the raw concrete structural columns were poured on site in special-order forms. After sanding them by hand, they were wrapped to protect them during the building process. “They looked like ancient Egyptian artifacts!” laughs Bennett.
Sultana notes the pie-shaped lot dictated the pool shape. The pool’s steps act like stadium seating and, like the pool deck, remain cool to the touch all day, according to Bennett. Denser than regular concrete and incredibly durable, the shell terrazzo-topped white concrete was custom-mixed on site and honed to expose the ancient shell used as aggregate. Rainwater runs off the energy efficient Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing into internal drains which feed into the landscaping.
Written by Ginny Peterson
Photography by Ryan Gamma
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