8 Striking Designs in Wisconsin

written by:
December 5, 2013
Perhaps best known for cheese, beer, and Bart Starr, Wisconsin has emerged in recent years as something of a laboratory for intelligent, modern architecture. Here are eight noteworthy Badger State living spaces from Dwell's archives.
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  A few years after moving into a stocky 1970s bi-level house 20 miles southeast of Milwaukee, JJ and Eric Edstrom decided it was time to renovate. New to the world of architecture and construction, the Edstroms turned to Johnsen Schmaling Architects. The couple provided the architects with a list of must-haves to accommodate their flexible-but-busy lifestyle, including a strong connection to their backyard. The result is a warm, modernist  update that embodies their core Midwestern values: simplicity, connection to nature, and strong family ties. Photo by Cameron Wittig.  Courtesy of: Cameron Wittig

    A few years after moving into a stocky 1970s bi-level house 20 miles southeast of Milwaukee, JJ and Eric Edstrom decided it was time to renovate. New to the world of architecture and construction, the Edstroms turned to Johnsen Schmaling Architects. The couple provided the architects with a list of must-haves to accommodate their flexible-but-busy lifestyle, including a strong connection to their backyard. The result is a warm, modernist update that embodies their core Midwestern values: simplicity, connection to nature, and strong family ties. Photo by Cameron Wittig.

    Courtesy of: Cameron Wittig

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  Architect David Salmela designed a bifurcated vacation cabin for Bruce Golob and Jean Freeman on Madeline Island, a few miles off the coast of Wisconsin. The pair made a trip there “by accident” one summer, Golob.says “As soon as we stepped off the ferry, we found ourselves in another world.” Photo by Chad Holder.  Photo by: Chad Holder

    Architect David Salmela designed a bifurcated vacation cabin for Bruce Golob and Jean Freeman on Madeline Island, a few miles off the coast of Wisconsin. The pair made a trip there “by accident” one summer, Golob.says “As soon as we stepped off the ferry, we found ourselves in another world.” Photo by Chad Holder.

    Photo by: Chad Holder

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  Roger Scommegna scored an unlikely hit with Three Thieves, a screw-top zinfandel with a bright red label and a retail price of $9.99. Its surprising success gave Scommegna an idea. If a good wine could be mass-marketed in an unassuming package at an affordable price, perhaps the same could be done with architecture. A narrow, 50-foot-wide lot that Scommegna purchased at Moose Lake, about 25 miles west of Milwaukee, would serve as the proving ground. Vetter Denk Architects of Milwaukee accepted the challenge and designed the three story Aperture House, which is positioned to capture views of the lake. Photo by J.J. Sulin.  Photo by: J.J. Sulin

    Roger Scommegna scored an unlikely hit with Three Thieves, a screw-top zinfandel with a bright red label and a retail price of $9.99. Its surprising success gave Scommegna an idea. If a good wine could be mass-marketed in an unassuming package at an affordable price, perhaps the same could be done with architecture. A narrow, 50-foot-wide lot that Scommegna purchased at Moose Lake, about 25 miles west of Milwaukee, would serve as the proving ground. Vetter Denk Architects of Milwaukee accepted the challenge and designed the three story Aperture House, which is positioned to capture views of the lake. Photo by J.J. Sulin.

    Photo by: J.J. Sulin

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  Donna Brogan and her husband, Bert Hodous, turned to St. Paul, Minnesota-based Alchemy Architects, which designed and built their 2,150-square-foot home in Blair, Wisconsin, for $360,000—a feat that included a geothermal heating system, a slatted sunlit porch, and a rustic modernism that's entirely homegrown.

    Donna Brogan and her husband, Bert Hodous, turned to St. Paul, Minnesota-based Alchemy Architects, which designed and built their 2,150-square-foot home in Blair, Wisconsin, for $360,000—a feat that included a geothermal heating system, a slatted sunlit porch, and a rustic modernism that's entirely homegrown.

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  Bill Weber, the proprietor of a furniture manufacturing and upholstering business, always wanted to build his own house. Making his dream come true, in the quiet farming village of Black Earth, Wisconsin, was a family affair. Bill acted as his own general contractor. His son and daughter-in-law, Jonas and Danika Weber—both young architectural designers—designed the home for free. Bill’s youngest son, Wyatt, a University of Minnesota student, pitched in as well. Family members, friends, neighbors and Bill himself put in untold hours of labor to complete the project, doing everything from hoisting timber beams to tiling the home’s floors. The Weber house underscores the fact that great design can be made affordable with planning, sacrifice, and some sweat equity.

    Bill Weber, the proprietor of a furniture manufacturing and upholstering business, always wanted to build his own house. Making his dream come true, in the quiet farming village of Black Earth, Wisconsin, was a family affair. Bill acted as his own general contractor. His son and daughter-in-law, Jonas and Danika Weber—both young architectural designers—designed the home for free. Bill’s youngest son, Wyatt, a University of Minnesota student, pitched in as well. Family members, friends, neighbors and Bill himself put in untold hours of labor to complete the project, doing everything from hoisting timber beams to tiling the home’s floors. The Weber house underscores the fact that great design can be made affordable with planning, sacrifice, and some sweat equity.

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  When architect Charlie Lazor was com­missioned to design an affordable, dura­ble summer retreat on Lake Superior’s historic Madeline Island, the clients envisioned a modern cabin that evoked a rustic simplicity; Lazor, creator of the panelized FlatPak house, developed a new modular 1,600-square-foot open-plan house  that includes a screened porch, traditional porcelain fixtures, and shed door latches. Mounted on tubular steel posts to minimize its ecological footprint (and the number of ferry crossings), the house stands out amongst the trees as a testament to both prefab’s tenacity against the elements and its environmental ethos. Photo by George Heinrich.  Photo by: George Heinrich

    When architect Charlie Lazor was com­missioned to design an affordable, dura­ble summer retreat on Lake Superior’s historic Madeline Island, the clients envisioned a modern cabin that evoked a rustic simplicity; Lazor, creator of the panelized FlatPak house, developed a new modular 1,600-square-foot open-plan house that includes a screened porch, traditional porcelain fixtures, and shed door latches. Mounted on tubular steel posts to minimize its ecological footprint (and the number of ferry crossings), the house stands out amongst the trees as a testament to both prefab’s tenacity against the elements and its environmental ethos. Photo by George Heinrich.

    Photo by: George Heinrich

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  Taking its cues from local barns and silos and the rolling Wisconsin terrain, the Field House, in Ellington, Wisconsin, is a kind of modern observatory for watching winter turn to spring and the great vault of the heavens. A silo ladder in the study leads to the roof deck. Photo by Tom Fowlks.  Photo by: Tom Fowlks

    Taking its cues from local barns and silos and the rolling Wisconsin terrain, the Field House, in Ellington, Wisconsin, is a kind of modern observatory for watching winter turn to spring and the great vault of the heavens. A silo ladder in the study leads to the roof deck. Photo by Tom Fowlks.

    Photo by: Tom Fowlks

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  Amanda Hollis and her husband, Jeremy, bought a 37-acre parcel in Muscoda, Wisconsin, in 2009 and turned to Johnsen Schmaling Architects to design a permanent structure to serve as a weekend getaway. Brian Johnsen examined the area’s topography and, stacked the cabin's components in an L-shape. The living hub is at the center, with ArchiSpec lift-slide glass doors to connect the space with the surrounding landscape. Photo by Narayan Mahon.

    Amanda Hollis and her husband, Jeremy, bought a 37-acre parcel in Muscoda, Wisconsin, in 2009 and turned to Johnsen Schmaling Architects to design a permanent structure to serve as a weekend getaway. Brian Johnsen examined the area’s topography and, stacked the cabin's components in an L-shape. The living hub is at the center, with ArchiSpec lift-slide glass doors to connect the space with the surrounding landscape. Photo by Narayan Mahon.

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