Contemporary Kansas Home with Wood Slatted Exterior Screen

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By Olivia Martin
Architect Dan Rockhill tackled a tight budget and a steep slope to build a modern Midwest haven.

Contemporary architecture in Lawrence, Kansas, is an anomaly. "On one of my earlier projects, I got the middle finger from passersby while constructing a flat roof," says architect Dan Rockhill. As a result, Rockhill eagerly accepted a rare request for a modern home from a local family, even though they had just $214,000 to spend on design and construction.

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Photo by: Dan Rockhill

Photo by: Dan Rockhill

Photo by: Dan Rockhill

Photo by: Dan Rockhill

Rockhill’s first move was to remedy the site’s two drawbacks—a steep slope and street noise—in one swoop by placing the bulk of the 1,500-square-foot home on the second level and tucking an additional bedroom, bathroom, and carport underneath. But, his biggest flourish was a slatted exterior screen of Cumaru wood that shields the inexpensive metal siding. Although the South American hardwood was a splurge, Rockhill felt its visual impact and overall durability was worth it: "On smaller projects you are lucky to be able to make two big gestures, so you’d better make them good," he says.