When homeowners want space, amenities, offices, guest rooms, and services quarters, one could build a palace. But this lakefront site begged for something less conventional.

Practicing immense restraint, and basing the design on a modern subtlety, architect Peter Gluck mined the bluff’s steep forty-two-foot eastern face to bury the bulk of the multilevel structure, making it appear as if it is “cascading” toward the shore.

At the front of the house, to the west, only a two-story glass pavilion rises above the precipice. But at the terraced back, generous living spaces on four levels command vistas of Lake Michigan. Not a trace remains of the colossal dig, boulder revetment, and backfill that temporarily left the grounds looking as if an inland tsunami had struck.

Melding landscape with architecture, Hoerr Schaudt rewrote topographic history to create the illusion of virgin terrain through which architectural planes and volumes had emerged like natural outcrops of crystalline bedrock. He channeled fluid landforms and vegetation around and over the building’s angular tectonic shifts to fuse interiors with rooftop terraces, ramps, stairs, and, ultimately, the shore.

The owners also wished to blaze a stylistic trail away from the tonsorial boxwoods and manicured lawns of suburbs like theirs. Our team began by winding a 450-foot driveway through naturalistic plantings that create privacy, soften boundary lines, and fuel suspense.

On the open landscape that descends beyond the entry, Hoerr Schaudt massed bayberry, rugosa roses, Sargent juniper, dune grass, and other flora tough enough to survive winters on the lake. We also craned in more than a dozen large trees over the top of the house to add a crucial layer of visual unfolding.

ASLA Illinois President's Award 2016

ASLA Illinois Honor Award 2013