Modern Marsh House in South Carolina

Modern Marsh House in South Carolina

By Jaime Gillin
In South Carolina's Lowcountry, a contemporary house soars amid the oaks and alligators.

The property was a standout. Edged by marsh and pond, ringed by tall oaks, in a 5,000-acre nature preserve halfway between Savannah and Charleston, it looked almost prehistoric—"you’d half expect a brontosaurus to walk past," says architect James Choate, of the Atlanta firm Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects. The client, a real estate executive, wanted a home that would honor the views. Choate responded with a remarkably transparent 2,900-square-foot structure that’s "more loft than house," as he puts it. There’s a single bedroom, tucked away in a mezzanine cantilevered over the kitchen; the rest of the building is an open-plan room, with 20-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal 270- degree views of the surrounding flora and fauna—including storks, deer, ibis, and even the odd alligator. Choate selected materials that need no maintenance and that would patina gracefully over time, including weathered fieldstone, clear-grained cedar, and copper. "They’re traditional materials, as old as construction itself," Choate observes. "But nothing else about the house is traditional. To put a contemporary house in the Lowcountry is a real shocker."

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