herbert lewis kruse blunck architecture, des moines

This simple but elegant guesthouse gazes across a pool to the owner's eco-conscious house, designed in the 1970s by Ray D. Crites, FAIA, a well-known Iowa architect. The main house is about 120 feet long, and its orderly, rigorous design was the starting point for Kirk V. Blunck, FAIA.

Borrowing its organizing principle of a single circulation spine, Blunck created a long, linear gallery connecting the house to the guesthouse. The cedar shake-clad hallway serves as both a privacy wall for the pool deck and a showplace for the client's art collection. But the guesthouse itself looks farther afield for its identity—to Iowa's rural corncribs. “There are still a fair amount of geometrically simple corncribs in the Midwest,” Blunck says. “I've stopped so many times to photograph them.”

Essentially, the guesthouse is a cube within a cube—a glass box overlaid with a cedar scrim for shade. The jury applauded the use of an old rural material on a modern box. “I want to see this house 30 or 40 years from now,” said one judge. “[This is a situation where] modernism could deteriorate and be beautiful.”

principal in charge: Kirk V. Blunck, FAIA, Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture
project architect: Matt Niebuhr, AIA
project size: 2,900 square feet
site size: 2.35 acres
construction cost: Projected $200 per square foot
renderings: Courtesy Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture