Project Description2008 RADA
Custom / More Than 3,500 Square Feet / Grand
When Randy Brown, FAIA, bought a 10-acre property and old house in the farm country of Omaha, Neb., he intended it to be a laboratory for experiments in how to design something so connected to the land that it looks both natural and manmade, and in how to create defined spaces open to the larger whole. The additions were built in phases and by hand—his own and those of his students', who for the last four summers have come from universities across the Midwest to work with Brown.
Those ideas took shape as canted walls, a polycarbonate catwalk, mezzanines, and stairs that seem to fly. “We did have a basic set of construction drawings to get permits, but as soon as we started building, we pretty much threw the plans out,” Brown says. The material palette—hot-rolled rusted steel, concrete floors, and thousands of 1x2 poplar slats from The Home Depot—ties the project to the neighboring barns and abandoned farm implements. Also included are green roofs, high-efficiency heat pumps, and plumbing and wiring for future solar panels and a geothermal system.
One judge likened the multifaceted project to a Rubik's Cube: “They took all these cubes—architecture, landscape, sustainability—and aligned them perfectly. Its integration into the landscape is brilliant.”