Architect Jody Beck, who runs Tampa-based Traction Architecture with her husband Ross-Alan Tisdale, gives us the backstory on Seagrape House.
The house is meant to be a weekend retreat for my parents and extended family. Some family members, including us, live in Tampa, about an hour's drive from the house, and others are scattered along the east coast in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. On any given weekend, somebody is usually in town for a visit.
We thought of the house as an anchor in the shifting landscape and also saw it as an anchor for the family. We envisioned it as a place that could be enjoyed for generations, one that would last much longer than the typical coastal home. This is why we chose such solid, high-performing materials. The structure and shell are constructed entirely of poured-in-place concrete to withstand a potential hurricane. I was inspired by the idea of a bunker on the beach.
Virtually every member of my family is a doctor or scientist of some sort. Before this project, they didn't know a whole lot about design and architecture. I saw the house as an opportunity to connect them to their surroundings. I tried to incorporate small gestures that would inspire them. For example, there are built-in desks in each guest room to accommodate quiet space for working. The desks all have what we called "St. Jerome boxes," small windows that frame views of the sea while sitting.
The process of designing, building and now inhabiting the home has been exciting for all of us. Before we started this project, my family could never have visualized a house like this. So far they love it, and they keep telling me that they miss it if a week goes by without staying there.
My husband Ross and I met in Los Angeles at Sci-Arc and moved back to Tampa (where I grew up) about seven years ago. We called our firm Traction Architecture, because we met on Traction Street—the school is located in a former freight depot on the corner of 3rd and Traction in downtown LA."