Design

May 9, 2019

Design Insights: Romence House

The owner was able to secure a serene vacant lot in an established neighborhood in the City of Grand Rapids, which backs on to a beautiful wooded parcel to the north. The goal of the project was first and foremost to design a home that met contextual needs from the street-side, but took full advantage of the unique natural setting in the rear.  MMA saw the opportunity for horizontal extension of the residence to quiet the home and ground it into its surroundings, and in so doing maximize rear courtyard space for a homeowner who has long term permaculture aspirations.  A detached garage was used to take full advantage of side-setback requirements. Additionally, the garage completes the open courtyard and creates an open moment of outdoor reception to the secluded outdoor space.  The L-shaped plan form created a simple diagram for living–a public arm of space that includes the mudroom, kitchen, dining, and living room, then a private arm of space with office, bedrooms and bathrooms. To accentuate the difference in use and experience, a 12 ft high wood ceiling space covers the public area, allowing ample clerestory light, while a lower ceiling provides intimacy, punctuated by skylights, in the […]
April 12, 2019

Design Insights: Westshore Community College Safety Training Center

In response to the growing need for public safety training, WSCC developed a vision for a multi-dimensional regional training center for public safety programs, including law enforcement and related fields, generating interest throughout central west Michigan.  The College identified an available existing 15-year old building on seven acres in Freesoil, Michigan that could be adapted and reused as an education and training facility to serve both the College and other communities on a regional basis. The adapted building includes classrooms, offices, reception area, conference space, computer labs, simulation labs, forensics lab, 911 training space, open training area, locker rooms and shower facilities, student commons, indoor firing range, and related spaces within the two-story, 21,000 SF facility. As an education facility, the development of new student-occupied space on two levels for WSCC use included:   Architectural upgrades throughout the existing building Fire Protection for the south portion of the main level Elevator to connect both levels Simulation labs New corridor passageways Observation spaces for groups The inclusion of an indoor firing range required particular design focus on two things:  quick evacuation of smoke and acoustic separation to diminish interruption of normal operations in surrounding spaces.  Within the limited floor-to-floor dimension, an […]
January 31, 2019

Design Insights: Riverglass House

The family intelligently acquired a piece of property whose natural attributes eclipsed its suburban surroundings. The lot lines create a compressed, modest street presence and then expand in a gesture to the unique pointed setting on the Thornapple River, with a 200 degree water view. The concept of a long, welcoming landscape to a house that re-dramatizes the opening to a river view was foundational for the design process. Thinking about the house as a threshold to the river experience was an organizational tool for the project. A three story central core is a quotation of the outdoors—a large interior void around which all the individual uses of the house are organized. The core welcomes, but also negotiates egress between offset levels on either side. A large semi-public living room with high ceilings and prominent river views couple with the Master suite above to comprise the southern half of the house. Family function is supported to north: an expansive casual living, dining, and kitchen area on the main level, and children’s bedrooms and play area on the second level. At the highest point of the house, the third level provides multi-directional views and is reserved for focused work, reflection, wellness, […]
January 8, 2019

Design Insights: Eastown Veterinary Clinic

Eastown Veterinary Clinic is located in the vibrant business district of Eastown in Grand Rapids. Eight years ago, the owner renovated a vacant former bank building on a tight but prominent site. The community welcomed the veterinarian, and the practice quickly flourished and outgrew the existing space.  In addition to needing more exam rooms and treatment space, the veterinarians felt that separating the dog and cat entrances would provide a more stress-free visit for their small clients. Yet, like many urban lots, the building was bordered by streets on three sides and a shared parking lot in the rear. Utility easements criss-crossed the site, and the trio of streets meant three “front yards”, which have greater setback requirements than a typical side yard. Working with experienced animal care facility designer and engineer Design Learned Inc., the Mathison | Mathison team maximized square footage by proposing a two-story addition meeting all required setbacks and easements.  MMA worked closely and efficiently with the City of Grand Rapids and civil engineers from Comprehensive Engineering  to help secure an amendment to an existing Special Use Permit for the new addition. The veterinarian had previously done a nice renovation to the aging bank building, removing […]
October 25, 2018

Deer Haven House Wins AIA Award

MMA accepts an AIA Grand Rapids residential design award for Deer Haven House.

Each year the AIA recognizes excellence in design from its architectural members. Mathison I Mathison Architects is humbled to accept a residential design award from AIA Grand Rapids for their Deer Haven House project.

October 17, 2018

The Lake Residence: Design Insights

This new family home is located on a beautiful wooded lot that slopes down in two directions to wide, sunset views over the lake.

The family wanted a primary living space on the main or street level that still felt connected to the lake. While decks are a simple solution to adding main-level exterior space on lake-front homes, they often feel like an after-thought, creating a damp shadowy space below, and block daylight to the lower level. This large patio is over lower level living space, so it feels integral to the home and still allows for unhindered light and views at the lower level. The kitchen, sitting, and dining room open directly to the patio with a wide lift-slide door. A gracious stair leads straight to the lakefront below, creating an easy pathway for guests from the entry down and out to the lake.