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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
May 2011
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: Rural Elegance in a Wisconsin Home

Architectural Firm of the Month: Wheeler Kearns

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone Garden Walkway Southern CAWelcome to the May issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If you have a project you would like to share with us, please contact us and tell us about it. If chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter, which goes out to architects and building industry professionals across the country. Click here to find out more about us, or visit us on our Facebook Fan Page.

Architectural Firm of the Month: Wheeler Kearns

Wheeler Kearns is a small architectural firm located in Chicago, IL that numbers eleven employees, all architects. Each acts in the capacity of project architect for individual jobs, overseeing the job from schematic design through final construction. During a project's development, all contribute in various capacities along with the client, consultants, and the construction team. This is at the heart of the firm's "studio" philosophy.

Our office is devoted to a critical pursuit and practice of architecture. We believe in the search for spaces which define a full, rich, and dignified way of life. 


Relying on the participatory atmosphere of a studio, our process involves clients, engineers, consultants, and contractors in the development of structures which respond to desire, function and budget. After devoting our efforts to finding the "emotional center" of a project early on, we collaborate to develop solutions that reinforce it. Simple, direct solutions are held in high esteem.

Our work ranges in scale and type; from the design of a door lever to a theater arts center for a college; from an elementary school to an indoor ice rink; from a children's museum to a painter's studio. Our work includes residences of various scales, programs, budgets for all walks of life. We remain committed to the optimistic pursuit of architecture in the design of buildings, interiors, landscapes, furniture, and urban design to ensure the realization of unified projects, regardless of their magnitude. 

For more information visit: 

Topic of the Month: Rural Elegance in a Wisconsin Home 

Wheeler Kearns Sun Room Madison WIPhotograph by William Kildow

A barn-style structure and an English garden make perhaps an unlikely combination, but it is one that has been created harmoniously for a private residence in Madison, Wisconsin. The result is a house in the country that has been designed to reflect the life and history of the area while providing an elegant, comfortable and spacious home in a bucolic setting.


Architect Tom Bader of Wheeler Kearns in Chicago, IL was the Project Manager and describes his inspiration for the design. "The owners, who were originally from Chicago and were moving to Madison, were intrigued by some of the simpler farm buildings around the area, in particular big barns and simple farm houses. So the design is really meant to recall some of those simple rural structures. Sometimes a barn is entered on an upper level as well as a lower level with the rolling terrain. The house does a similar thing, where there is an upper level where you enter. Here you approach through a garden which echoes the barn yard or farm yard you might find on a farm, but this is more of a controlled English garden. There is a lower level that exits with a longer view across the rolling landscape. This house was really inspired by some of those simple rural buildings." The house also has a stone wall surrounding it, much like the rambling stone walls that surround many farms in the area.


Along with its rustic influence in the design, the house has many elements that make it a uniquely designed modern home. Bader explains, "The interior is very simple and contemporary. The main living space on the main level is essentially one big room with a series of framed separations. There is a large frame around the living room fireplace that repeats as an open frame between the dining room and kitchen, and then another frame that captures cabinetry on the opposite side of the kitchen. So it's essentially one big room that is spatially defined with a series of spaces within the larger space."


"The owners were looking for a fairly simple interior, but they do have a lot of antiques that were passed down in their family, so we had to keep the interior simple enough that the antiques would not be competing against other things."  


"It is a cost-saving strategy when you don't do a lot of different rooms and walls and doors and all that, you obviously have less construction involved. The project did have an adequate budget to do some nice things, so we tried to concentrate our efforts towards those things, one of which was the stone flooring that we ended up using."


Bader chose to use Glacier Blue® Devonian Stone in the interior in the sun room, in many of the entrances, and on the walkway out in the garden under the pergola. "We used Devonian Stone was because it had consistent character but also we could get it in the interior thicknesses but also the exterior thicknesses. The intent was to use the same material from inside to outside. We had the walkways approaching the front door and then we had a sun room, a room that in the summer could be opened up like a screened porch and in the winter closed down. So we used the same stone there as well as in some of the entranceways of the house."


On the exterior, shades of gray with accents in red set the building apart from its landscape. "That's a standing seam metal roof, it's actually just a painted metal, we ended up using aluminum in this case. It's again recalling that kind of farmhouse aesthetic that was often used back a hundred years ago, but a more modern interpretation of a metal roof."


"The house doesn't sit on as much land as it looks like at first. There was actually a fairly tight restriction on the amount of square footage you could have, so by burying some of the square footage in the ground the way we did, and by taking advantage of the slope of the hill, we were able to get a little more usable square footage than they would otherwise have. But that also presented some challenges for us, to make sure we didn't have water problems because during a heavy rain there is a lot of water coming down this hill which is quite large. We had to be very careful about diverting all of the rainwater runoff around the house. Those were some of the major challenges. Other than that, it was a fairly simple house, and we tried to keep it simple on purpose to control the costs. Overall it was a nice project to work on. The owners are very happy."


Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit:

Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:

Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture
CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:

The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.



Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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