Cabin 717'-0"

Just 25 miles from their Iowa City home, this weekend cabin sits on a peninsula of Lake Mac Bride surrounded by a state park in an area originally developed in a post World War II era as a colony of fishing enthusiasts.

Allowable construction on the narrow 60 feet wide lot was defined by two frontal setbacks. An original, grandfathered frontal setback allowed construction on the existing cabin footprint while the current more stringent setback defined all new construction. Added to these already tight constraints were topography limits, side setbacks, DNR requirements for site disturbance and a new flood elevation of 717’-0”, hence the name Cabin 717’-0”, resulting in a small buildable footprint. To meet programmatic requirements the building footprint was maximized and design was organized vertically. Overhangs within the floor plans capture floor area on upper floors without violating the maximum footprint allowed on the ground. Exterior Cantilevered spaces and large roof overhangs provide summer shade on south facing lake facade, welcoming the sun in winter while maximizing views.

Lake view dominates the planning. Topography required a physical “bridge” from front parking to the entry and provides a visual bridge to the lake. Lower and Main floors, designed as open public places and Main Bedroom suite on the second floor explode to the picturesque lake horizon with floor to ceiling glass. Variations of cubical forms frame views and define spaces. Window arrangement along south facade displaces the location of venting window units to boost cross ventilation, referencing the movement of waves. High but limited window penetrations on sides bring in ventilation and natural light while maintaining privacy from adjacent neighbors.

Cedar, corrugated metal and concrete comprise a simple exterior palette and reference rural Iowa. Interior wood ceilings, an extension of exterior soffits, bring visual warmth and help offset the acoustics and starkness of concrete, glass and drywall. Glass railing system inside and outside performs without obstructing views.

Lake Macbride is the cause and effect for this house. The peacefulness of lake attracted owners to the site, Lake’s topography informed the footprint of the house, Lake’s beauty and views drove the planning and Lakes orientation sculpted the building.

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