Ravine Bluff

Winnetka, IL
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Ravine Bluff is a private residence in Winnetka, IL, standing on a 60-foot bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

Design

Ravine Bluff was designed with ease of construction in mind; the structural frame was prefabricated in three weeks, and it took just two days to erect with a large crane. The span of the house is 35 feet, the maximum length of an object that a flatbed truck can legally carry on an interstate. The stair, with its exceptionally long 20-foot cantilever, was also made off site. It was installed after the frame was built and before the flooring was in place. The most labor-intensive component, requiring a full two weeks to attach, was the curtain wall that wraps the entire 8,500-square-foot structure.

The satin-sheen exterior aluminum panels shield private areas of the home and are fabricated by a company that manufactures such panels for buses. The exterior soffit is made using a material commonly employed for buried piping, which does not stain, and has a lovely neutral color and finish.

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Ravine Bluff was designed with ease of construction in mind; the structural frame was prefabricated in three weeks, and it took just two days to erect with a large crane. The span of the house is 35 feet, the maximum length of an object that a flatbed truck can legally carry on an interstate. The stair, with its exceptionally long 20-foot cantilever, was also made off site. It was installed after the frame was built and before the flooring was in place. The most labor-intensive component, requiring a full two weeks to attach, was the curtain wall that wraps the entire 8,500-square-foot structure.

The satin-sheen exterior aluminum panels shield private areas of the home and are fabricated by a company that manufactures such panels for buses. The exterior soffit is made using a material commonly employed for buried piping, which does not stain, and has a lovely neutral color and finish.

Upon approach, the home looks nearly transparent, with glimpses of the lake visible through it. Though appearing two stories, there is a third story tucked below the terraced slope leading down to the lake. The cantilevered stair is visible from outside, as is the bright-yellow steel frame of the house with punched I-beams spanning the width.

Inside, all rooms offer views of Lake Michigan to the east. The plan on the first floor is completely open: spaces melt into one another with only the suggestion of separation implied by built-in shelving or cabinets and floating walls.

Construction

Ravine Bluff took only six months to design and build. This timeframe was accomplished by using unconventional materials and building methods, achieving economies that reduced the cost of custom design and construction by half and the time for design and construction by as much as two-thirds.

Residences

Completed: 1996

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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL




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