herbert lewis kruse blunck architecture, des moines, iowa

Architect Paul Mankins relished having carte blanche to renovate his twin brother's newly purchased home. The house enjoys a spectacular hilltop vista of San Francisco's skyline, but four decades of unfortunate remodels made it difficult to get past the bad taste to the great view. Hidden by haphazard changes were remnants of an original design by noted Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Aaron Greene. Mankins says, "A lot of the solution was mainly getting rid of the bad stuff to get back to a more stylistic version of Greene's underlying order of strict 4-foot grids."

Two basic organizing boxes—one encased in brick and the other in yellow stucco—flank a glass entry zone. Mankins opened up the 44-foot-long interior along the rear of the building to create one continuous living area overlooking the view. Aluminum ceiling panels and pale area rugs atop the monolithic slate floor define zones within the large space. He also reoriented the stair and recessed upper kitchen cabinets into the walls to expose views from every corner. The jury felt the design strongly addressed renovation issues, saying, "It's an update different from, but in the spirit of, the original," and that the architect, "carried that idea all the way through—didn't miss a thing."

principal in charge: Paul Mankins, FAIA, Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture
project architect: Matt Rodenkamp, AIA, Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture
general contractor: Stroub Construction, Sausalito, Calif.
interior designer and landscape architect: Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture
project size: 2,800 square feet
construction cost: $300 per square foot
photographer: Assassi Productions