salmela architect, duluth, minn.

Surprising as it may seem, the requirements that gave rise to the Yingst Retreat were rather conventional: lots of light, room for guests, a view of the lake. “The program was pretty normal,” says architect David D. Salmela, FAIA. The result, however, is an intriguing compound that combines elements of dwelling, environmental sculpture, and installation art.

A deliberately direct driveway plunges to an entry court populated by four obscure, coal-black boxes: three garages and a workshop. The workshop steps out of line with its partners, opening a narrow passage to an inner courtyard and the house.

The house brackets its barlike length between end walls of white masonry that Salmela likens to “white swans on black water.” An exposed structure of laminated columns marches the length of the building, which steps downhill toward the lake. Terracelike levels define spaces both indoors and outdoors, where sculptural elements—a freestanding chimney, a sauna, and a pavilion one judge dubbed “the Mystery Critter”—draw one out into the landscape.

Our judges were taken with the project’s “moody, lyrical” quality, calling the scheme “abstract yet functional.” As one noted, the insertion of built forms into the natural environment “integrates play and discovery on the site.”

Project Credits
principal in charge / project architect: David D.Salmela, FAIA, SALMELA Architect,
general contractor: James Anderson, James Anderson Builders, Maple City, Mich.
landscape architect: Shane Coen, ASLA, Coen+Partners, Minneapolis
project size: 3,661 square feet
site size: 10 acres
construction cost: $429 per square foot
photography: Peter Bastianelli-Kerze, except where noted

Product Details
bathroom and kitchen cabinets: Architectural Elements of Michigan; bathroom and kitchen fittings: Dornbracht Americas; bathroom fixtures: Neptune, TOTO USA; cooktop, oven/range: Wolf Appliance; dishwasher: ASKO North America; doors, windows: Loewen; exterior siding: Richlite Co. (Skatelite); flooring (carpet): InterfaceFLOR; flooring (ceramic tile/stone/concrete): Evergreen Slate Co.; framing: PorterCorp (PorterSIPs), Timberweld; garage doors: Clopay Building Products Co.; hardware: Häfele America Co.; hvac equipment: GeoFurnace Heating & Cooling; kitchen fixtures: Julien; lighting fixtures: Cooper Lighting (Halo), Crescent/Stonco, Moooi; paints/stains/wall finishes: BioShield Paint Co.; refrigerator: The Liebherr Group; stove: NIPPA Sauna Stoves; skylights/roof windows: VELUX-America

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