Lessons Learned 2

Written by: Norman Ward, FAIA

Moving from the Bluestem’s hilltop into the city. This aerial shows a “green zone” where two 1930 neighborhoods merged. As you can see, this block is wider than the other blocks; leaving a slot of land, three blocks long. The Moretti’s purchased a 60’ x 300’ lot within this green zone. Two courtyards are inserted within the house. They serve as “light wells”. The Studio is placed within the garden and is connected to the main house with a “glass bridge”. The long porch faces south.



The sunlight portals are similar to Bluestem. In this case, the sunlight is cast on the white fiberglass panels and the sunlight is constantly in motion within these courtyards. This is one of the original sketches about “Courtyards as Containers of Daylight”, I presented to the owners. This sketch preceded the floor plan development. The white fiberglass panels also serve for privacy from the neighboring houses. The light wells fill the interiors with ambient sunlight.


This image shows the studio placed in the garden. The depth of the porch roof prevents direct sunlight from touching the window wall, even in winter when the sun’s arc of movement is lowest. This is one of the original sketches about “the studio placed in the garden”, I presented to the owners. This sketch preceded the floor plan development as well. The living areas and kitchen are visually connected to the garden. This is the idea of an urban garden, contained and private. This is the glass bridge connection to the studio in the garden. The street elevation gives an appearance of solid. Once past the green entry gate, the courtyards open to the sky and the living areas open to a private garden filled with sunlight.


The Huynh house is within a gated community with Design Guidelines and Covenants. Drawings are required to be approved by an Architectural Review Committee. This sketch was presented to the owner before the floor plan development. Similar to the Moretti’s glass bridge idea, there is a “glass box” on the east for morning light to enter the interiors and one on the west to receive evening light. An entry courtyard wall bisects both glass boxes.


This floor plan shows an arrangement of the 2 bedroom pavilions connected to the living area pavilion by the two glass boxes and the porch connecting the garage pavilion to the living area pavilion. This interior image shows the courtyard entry wall engaging the “east glass box” in the distance. The wooden steps on the left led to the Reading Alcove. This image shows the courtyard wall extending into the glass box. Similar to Bluestem expressing masonry and stucco thicknesses, the thickness of the wood rain screen is expressed. This is the outside of the glass box. You can see the courtyard wall inside. This image shows the Reading Room. The reading room is a glass box elevated to be in the tree canopy.


I began to study how sunlight releases colors in glass. This was a study called Chambers.


Three years later, renovations of a house titled 22 Billets opened the interiors to be filled with daylight. Colored glass billets installed in the entry porch wall are seen as musical notations on an implied stave. Daylight releases colors into the interior as the sun moves across the entry porch. This sketch was made for 22 Billets.


So, Light Chambers is leading to a new project called Embrace. The idea is “A Container of Color Plates”. Opaque and transparent interior walls are embraced within a stone veneer enclosure. The roof canopy appears to float above the stone veneer container as if the house is an open-air pavilion set on land along the water’s edge.