PROJECT OF THE YEAR: RESIDENTIAL
Owner: Phil & Terry Woodard
Masonry Contractor: Rick Mosely
General Contractor: Archer Custom Builders
Structural Engineer: Poe Engineering
House on the Bluff is a single-family house for a couple intending to take full advantage of a site by offering sweeping views of the Mississippi River. Making a transition from suburbia to downtown, the owners purchased a rather nondescript lot with one major advantage - a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River and Arkansas delta beyond. Because of a desire to maximize this view, the house is centered around a concept of movement from the street, across the site, to a dramatic ending.
Masonry plays a key role in this implication of movement. Guiding one's path from the street is an 11 ft tall stone masonry wall leading past an entry garden and pool, and into the vertical circulation zone of the house. Once inside, the stone wall grows to 40 ft high and becomes the anchoring system for the house, serving both as structure and art.
Care was taken to consider every connection to the wall, so as to treat it with as much respect as the art which hangs upon it. Openings were kept to a minimum, and the shell of the house wraps over the top, creating a soaring vertical space above the stairs and glass catwalk. Moving through and past the wall, one ultimately reaches the western facade, where the river is revealed through an immense glass facade and double-height space leading onto an elevated outdoor terrace.
The masonry wall, reinforced by 12 in. concrete masonry units, is wrapped in natural stone extracted from the New Madrid Fault Line in St. Louis - the same fault line upon which the home sits in Memphis, Tenn. Rock-faced concrete masonry units were used on the patio facing the river bluff to render a sense of substance and texture at the home's base, and to emphasize a contrast between the house's natural and man-made elements.