4 Ways Modern: A Look At Four Stunning Modern Homes

It’s always rewarding to see how different artists approach their subject. In this case, the artists are architects, and each has designed a striking modern structure – either new or a renovation of an existing home.

All four of these homes were entered in the 2013 Marvin Architect’s Challenge, an annual contest sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors. Now in its fifth year, the challenge attracted a record number of entries this year.

A panel of noted judges will select the contest winners, to be announced in late August. In the meantime, you’re invited to vote for your own favorite entries. The top vote-getter will receive a special award. To vote, visit the Architect’s Challenge Showdown. 


Architect: Steve Jensen, Litchfield, Minn. www.stevejensenarchitect.com

Zephyr8 is a vacation/retirement home of about 800 square feet. The owner wanted a compact and efficient home with rich interior and exterior spaces, and privacy. The house is partially prefabricated using structural insulated panels. The annual energy consumption is the equivalent of two cords of wood.

I believe we owe a spiritual/psychic debt for the things we don’t use,” said architect Steve Jensen.

“Small dwellings of efficient spaces have the physical advantage of using fewer materials, and consequently those materials can be richer and of higher quality.The spaces that are of use to us daily become filled with meaning and purpose, which I think contribute to a fine life.

“The idea of Zephyr is as a prototype for rural conservation development,” Jensen said. “A fundamental problem of land use and rural residences is that many people desire to live close to nature, but in the process of building the nature is somehow lost. Zephyr is made to sit lightly on the natural terrain and situated to protect the surrounding natural elements, and maximize the owner’s privacy and autonomy.”  


Architect: Graham Pohl, Pohl Rosa Pohl, Lexington, Ky. www.pohlrosapohl.com

This residential remodel/addition to a 1929 Tudor Revival home honors the old, yet brings the house up to modern standards.

An extremely leaky, inefficient house was transformed into a tight, cutting-edge home with geothermal heating and cooling, spray foam insulation and high efficiency Marvin windows. The aesthetic is both familiar and fresh, with unusual integration of indoor and outdoor spaces and stunning details. The overall effect is comforting and inspirational.

The existing house was a playful blend of sweeping rooflines, generous window openings and elegant proportions. The quality of the house inspired respect for the existing forms, spaces and details, but also set a precedent for whimsy. The light-filled interior spaces suggested the possibility of re-creating the house in a way that nurtures a 21st-century lifestyle.


Architect: Lars Peterssen, Peterssen/Keller Architecture, Minneapolis www.pkarch.com

This is a renovation and addition to the VMS Kaufmann House, a 1936 International Style lake home and a designated Minneapolis landmark. The architect worked closely with the client and the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Council to expand the home in a manner that respects its historic character while meeting the needs of a growing family. An additional master suite, expanded living spaces and storage were massed and detailed to maintain the façade’s iconic ribbon windows.

“It was a tremendous challenge to balance the needs of the family with local preservation guidelines,” said architect Lars Peterssen. “The design team’s solution provides space for the family to grow while maintaining a harmonious composition between new and old. It is the opinion of the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Council that the renovation will ensure the protection of this landmark structure for future generations.

“The owners feel that the addition and remodel has improved their quality of life,” Peterssen added. “They say their home is ‘a huge box of light’ and that the space is ‘as good as the south of France.’ ”

A new mechanical system and high-efficiency windows have reduced energy consumption throughout the home.


Architect: David Kennedy, PPK Architects, Glen Ellyn, Ill. www.ppks.com

This modern residential design expressing form and materials is located on a heavily wooded sand dune adjacent to Lake Michigan. A 2,400-square-foot open-floor plan takes advantage of views to the surrounding natural landscape. Use of materials such as standing seam metal roofing, cement fiber siding, painted steel and wood accompany the Marvin aluminum clad wood windows and doors. Geometric punched openings bring the outside in.