Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Chapter 2: Adirondack Cottage on the Lake Site Planning

View of New Adirondack Cottage on the Lake
Doing a site analysis and the subsequent site specific design that an architect can bring to a project is showcased in this design. The client had lake side property, with a gutted 1950s ranch home on it, and wanted to create a contemporary Adirondack style cottage where they could enjoy the lake year round, and into their retirement.

BEFORE: View from Street Side
BEFORE: View from Lake Side
The existing house on the property was very small and in a state of incomplete interior renovation. It was located very close (only 3') from the NE side property line and the rooms didn't take advantage of the lake views as one would hope. It had a front-loading 2 car garage about the same size as the house. It was determined early on that the engineering to change what was there into what the clients wanted was going to cost more than building new. It was the location, on the side of a peaceful lake, that was the important thing, so we set out to create a new design that took advantage of that.

Site Plan for Adirondack Cottage on the Lake
The town planning and zoning boards were happy to see our proposal to center the new home on the width of the property. With special permissions from The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Zoning Board of Appeals, we kept the construction footprint a bit closer to the back-lake side than was standard, so that an established tree in the front yard could stay. The clients wanted to keep an attached garage, and one of the "Aha" moments came when I suggested rotating the garage entry to the side, instead of having the doors face the front, so the house could look more traditional by "hiding" the garage. For other posts about how architects deal with the unsightliness and impossibly large massing of a garage near the house, click HERE and HERE.

Lake Side with Door to Recreation Room below Living Room
The grade slopes down from the street to the lake with enough vertical change that a the Recreation Room in the cellar can have nice windows and a door out the back, and the cars can drive into the attached garage from the front. This large change in elevation can make the living levels - which are at the level of the street- feel an unfortunate separation from the lake because they are at a a much higher elevation.

The new design works to mitigate this separateness with some re-grading with retaining walls to create a usable level area at the base of a large deck accessed off the Dining and Living Rooms. The choice of a "One and a Half Story" cottage style, in which the second floor is located within the roof space and dormers provide the window space, also serves to minimize the height of the structure. This type of massing also provides for a greater square footage on the ground level, and less upstairs, which works perfectly for the client's wish for a ground-level Master Bedroom Suite. The new Living Room, open to the Entry, Kitchen,  and Dining is to be a soaring high space with a balcony above and many, many windows toward the lake view.

There are always trade-offs, and unfortunately one large tree that was close to the back wall of the former structure did have to be removed . But amazingly, the sewage treatment system (aka septic leach field area) was able to fit outside of the 100' wet lands buffer established around the lake, and this new system will be a major improvement in terms of the health of the lake.

View from Street

Click here to see the previous post about this project:

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