looney ricks kiss, memphis, tenn.

When the editors of Better Homes & Gardens asked architect J. Carson Looney to design the ultimate house for the new century, he thought he'd be bound by tradition. "But the editors surprised me," Looney recalls. "They said, 'We don't want a typical front-porch house. We want you to push the envelope and design a truly modern, livable home.'''

Looney complied enthusiastically with an elegant design for a 3,000-square-foot residence in Chapel Hill, N.C. Our judges admired the design's "great floor plan" and "nonmainstream elements--like clipped eaves and metal roofs."

"This is a house that really balances function and beauty, neighborhood presence and family privacy," Looney notes. The principal rooms have "eyes on the street" to establish a connection to the neighborhood, but the generous courtyard offers a private and protected family space.

"We've had people come up to the house and say, 'I just love its contemporary lines,' followed five minutes later by couples who say, 'It's one of the best traditional houses we've seen,''' Looney laughs. "That in a nutshell is what this project was all about."

project architects: J. Carson Looney, FAIA, principal in charge, and Rob Carlton, Project Architect, Looney Ricks Kiss
developer: Bryan Properties, Chapel Hill
general contractor: Mark W. Kirby & Brian Dixon, Dixon/Kirby & Co., Cary, N.C.
landscape architect: Southern Landscape Professionals, Willow Springs, N.C.
interior designer: Joseph Boehm, Better Homes & Gardens, Des Moines, Iowa
project size: 3,000 square feet
site size: .35 acres
construction cost: $239 per square foot
sales price: $718,000
photographer: Geoffrey Gross Photography