Part 2 – Wolf Residence, Milwaukee

Part 2 – Wolf Residence, Milwaukee (PDF)

  • John Brown


    This is the completed concept design for the Wolf residence.

  • Steve

    I like the long views from front to back, both from the entry and the kitchen patio door. And the kitchen is very roomy, though a little too big to my eye (the work triangle must be close to 35′), but perhaps that’s an accessibility feature.

    I also wonder how a mature couple that is downsizing from a much larger home would feel about entering the living/dining area through the kitchen. We see alot of condos like this (e.g. the WWWTH exercise 2 wks ago), and it’s also a common loft feature. For this couple I imagine something a little less casual, but maybe a live-in kitchen is exactly right for them. How do you get a feel for how formal/casual a client lives in advance of design?

    Thanks, John!

  • James Scott

    Interesting twist this week. How many of us picture ourselves and/or our companions in a wheelchair as we age? Are the Wolfs looking to the assistance of their daughter as well? If so how does that affect future accommodations?

    I did not have time to submit this week, but my thoughts were always with the functionality of the washrooms. Accessibility and usefulness of the shower, toilet and sink had my attention throughout the day. I think Terri’s first plan and Steve’s plan addressed that quite well. Though the door of the master bath in Terri’s plan may be a bit of an obstacle.

    Overall though I would say John’s plan offers the best option. Lots of maneuverability and all of the facilities are easily accessible.

    Exciting stuff, I’m always so impressed by everyone’s efforts.

  • BradW

    John – I like the kitchen/living/dining area but I wonder if there is enough space to locate both the living and dining at the back? Also, based on the demo plan I thought you would retain the center hall but that surprised me as you usually attempt to minimize hall space.

    Steve – I really liked your rethink of the condo posted late last night. The master at the front is interesting.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I like how you considered privacy to the bedroom with the millwork. Nice touch.

  • Terri

    I like the extra bath entry being opposite that laundry cupboard, though it doesn’t incorporate the 5ft diameter movement. The access to the master bath from the same entry as the “roll-in” closet is nicely done (much less “clunky” than my first plan!). Of course I do like that dining table beside the windows. I think there’s room since the furniture can easily be shuffled aside for a crowd.

    Steve, Your late posting yesterday is very intriguing, putting all the main living area at the back. It seems that the kitchen is a little small though, possibly no larger than what the unit originally offered. Good thinking outside the box, though!

  • Paul C


    I echo Brad and Terri’s assessments with respect to your plan from yesterday. Very nice plan, crisp, clean, refined, very nice. I especially like how the living space is much better defined/proportional. Depending on one’s inclination and/or maybe a desire for more kitchen prep area, one could move the dining to the center (formally the study) and extend the kitchen along the entire sidewall. (hope you don’t mind but I took a stab at it here)

  • Doug Roberts

    John — I like the way you combined the master closet with the master bath to create loads of wheelchair maneuvering room for both spaces. I also like the way you used millwork to create privacy for the entry to the master bedroom. My only concern is that you do not appear to have maintained a 60″ radius there, so it may be difficult for a wheelchair to make that left turn into the master bedroom. Pushing the master bedroom door an extra foot or so to the east might solve that problem, and there appears to be enough room to do so without causing the door to extend beyond the end of the wall that it opens against.

    Steve — I really like your plan — the view as you enter the living space from the centre hall would be quite spectacular with that wide expanse of windows. I also like Paul’s suggested modification to your plan, except that it completely eliminates any study/den area and results in the guest bedroom being excessively large. Maybe a small study/den area could be squeezed into the space between the kitchen and the guest bathroom.

  • BradW


    John – I agree with Jim – the millwork in front of the master bedroom door is a nice detail. I also like your master bath layout. The kitchen seems to have a very large work triangle.

    I tweaked my design from yesterday – The guest bathroom no longer permits wheelchair access but this results in a larger guest bedroom. The master has been changed to incorporate pocket doors instead of swing doors and the dresser and headboard have been adapted form John’s design. The laundry is a compromise – a stacked unit would be difficult to use from a wheelchair but it can be located in the more private space of the master suite (alternatively, there still is room in the storage area beside the water heater).

    One thing we often overlook in these designs is storage. I think PaulC made this point a few months ago in some of his designs. Where does one store things like a vacuum, brooms, other cleaning suppiles, ironing board, etc…

  • Paul C


    Alternatively, maybe relocate the laundry over towards the guest bath and place a compact study, behind sliding glass panels, where the laundry presently exists. The internal study could share the millwork will the living.

  • Terri

    There isn’t a 5ft turning diameter in this new kitchen, Paul.
    I’m just saying… ;)

  • BradW

    Regarding Steve’s plan, while an interesting alternative, does not entirely satisfy the brief. The courtyard at the front, the study, accessibility, closet space in the master are all compromised here.

  • Paul C

    Opps, sorry that was a quick copy and paste. I think there is likely enough space adjusting things to provide the 1.5m circle.

  • Steve

    Brad, could you say more? Admittedly, I provided for the functions of a study without a separate room, but Paul’s suggestion (above) would provide even that. The kitchen looks tight, but it’s 5′ between counters (like John’s plan). In what way does my plan (posted late yesterday) compromise accessibility and closets? BTW, I thrive on critique! :)

  • BradW


    1. no public living space access/view of the courtyard – in the brief one of the most liked aspects of the house was the front garden
    2. no study – in order to resolve the small kitchen the study was eliminated in favour of a dining space – not only is accessibility a factor in the kitchen but also size – the client complained about the current small kitchen and ranked the kitchen as the second most important room – note that the study was ranked more important than the dining room – the PaulC fix must be modified to incorporate a smaller island or, more likely, no island
    3. closet space in master – the closet in the master is an approx. 10′ linear run – compared to other plans this is on the small side – also it appears dimensionally narrow as it is shown in line with the master bathroom vanity
    4. other issues
    a. the plumbing behind the guest bath vanity will need special attention to accommodate the pocket door framing
    b. the guest bath tiolet is a considerable distance from its original location – plumbing changes may be difficult
    c. the hallway from the guest bedroom thru to the kitchen appears dimensionally narrow
    d. the guest bath is small
    e. you cannot get from the kitchen directly outside – the nearest exit is in the study/dining room
    f. the kitchen is a long way from the front door when bringing groceries home
    g. minimal towel hanging space in the master bath
    h. no door shown on the master bath

    I really like the living room and the client did rank that as most important – and that is a compromise John made in his design.

    Remember you asked…

  • BradW


    Here is a small revision of my plan for this house – a side by side laundry is located in the two part master closet.

  • Doug Roberts

    Wow Brad, that is quite a list! I will only address one of your many concerns.

    I don’t think you can criticize Steve’s plan for not satisfying the front garden element of the design brief. All the design brief said was that the clients really liked both the front garden and the rear raised balcony overlooking the park. The design brief did not specify that they wanted to be able to view/access the front garden from the living space. What would be wrong with presenting an option to the clients that would allow them to enjoy the front garden from their master bedroom? In fact, as designers, we probably wouldn’t be doing our job very well if we didn’t present an option like Steve’s to the clients, as his option was the only one of the bunch this time (including John’s) that dared to be different. Maybe the clients would turn up their noses, but maybe they would say “Wow, we never thought of doing that, but now that you have opened our eyes to the possibility, here is our chequebook!”

  • Louis Pereira


    Good points Doug,

    I thought all the design options had a lot of merit, especially the private areas, but i did decide to look an alternative layout for the Main Living spaces which is a variation of what many of you have come up with.

    Personally, i like the visual connection directly to the back garden the moment you enter the house. For this reason i decided to leave the hallway. However, rather than it simply being a circulation route, I did add some functionality by adding Laundry with access to the Uitiliy and Storage off the hallway. The opposite side of this could be more cabinetry – i.e. Pantry / Storage / Appliance Garage (see Precedent 1)

    I also looked at the functionality of the kitchen from the accessibility perspertive so i suggested a dropped counter at the kitchen island so someone in a wheelchair can help with food preparation – similar to the appliance garage area.

    I also liked PaulC’s solution to open up the corner of the Office area. He showed a column where the 2 pockets would meet but in fact this area is free of any structure so you could essentially have the corner doors meet with no support there. I did something similar on one of my recent projects (see precedent 2)

  • Louis Pereira


    Oops…a couple of more points.

    I proposed sliding doors to the Pantry rather than swing door for less hindrance of circulation and better accessibility. Also, i noticed a lot of rectangular dining tables in the proposed plans. Wouldn’t a circular dining table provide less obstruction?

    (better graphic quality img attached)

  • BradW

    Doug, I agree with presenting some options to a client. But, too many options can lead to indecision and confusion on the part of the client and alot of extra work and delays for the architect. I think you put your best foot forward, listen to the client, provide some revisions and go from there. Now, as to the front garden, I acknowledge the design brief in this regard, indeed like architecture itself, is subject to interpretation. I believe I stated that I personally liked Steve’s option – whether it fits the client’s need is another matter.

  • Paul C


    This plan is a variant of Steve’s and likely the last one for me for this exercise. I (as per usual maybe?) wanted to try something else for the kitchen. Having the fireplace in the kitchen might be rather neat. Who knows maybe it could actually be used to cook/bake!!! The hallway glass panel over the study, could be rigged such that when it is left open it hides the hot water tank utility door.

    I admit having the access into the laundry via the bathroom is a little strange(maybe even wwwth material) however having it there does help to maintain the “art” wall in the corridor. Thank you Brad W for the reminder about storage. It is easy sometimes to get carried away with the “fun” and forget about the important. You’ll note additional storage in this plan here and there.

    Not sure if I will be able to post over the next few days so to my fellow countrymen and women and their families…all the best to you and yours over this upcoming Thanksgiving Weekend. We all have very much to be thankful for here in Canada and elsewhere for that matter. Cheers everyone.

  • Louis Pereira


    Nice Paul! Fireplace in the Kitchen is a GREAT idea. Reminded me of one of Fu-Tung Cheng’s projects…

  • Louis Pereira

    BradW – i count 15 submissions/variations of plans to date for this Design Project. I agree i wouldn’t likely present that many options to a client. BUT this is an open forum and I would expect any ‘client’ paritcipating in such an exercise to welcome as many solutions as possible.

  • Louis Pereira


    Re: Corner Pocket Doors

    Just rec’d an email letter from The Sliding Door Co. featuring this…

  • BradW

    Right Louis and in this open forum the client has five or more architects working for them! In your practice is that a reality? Not likely. You present your vision to your colleagues in the office (if any) and revise. You present to the client and revise. If the client wishes to proceed then further revisions to deal with the realities of budget, building codes, materials, etc.. Or am I wrong?

    Furthermore, when have I suggested that this anything other than an open forum? I was asked specifically by Steve to provide additional feedback on his design which I did. I am more than happy to entertain any comments from Steve or anyone else on the forum regarding that feedback. I am more than happy to have my work reviewed with something other than “Nice plan”. But no where in that response do I suggest additional options or contributions from anyone are not welcome. Louis, you are seriously out of line suggesting that I do not respect this forum. Clarification and/or apology is required on your behalf.

  • John Brown

    Brad and Louis,

    One of the problems with this kind of written communication is that it is easy to misinterpret a comment or remark. After having had the pleasure of working alongside both Brad and Louis, I am sure that no slight was intended in either direction. Right?

    You both make massive contributions to slow home on a weekly basis and I very much appreciate the fact that both of you (as with everyone else on the site) respect and embrace the philosophy of openness and respectful criticism on which this site is based.

  • BradW

    John – I still cannot believe those comments from Louis…maybe I have misinterpreted them but…

  • Steve

    Thanks, Brad, for your keen eye – your critique was exactly what I was hoping for. Some of your points were conscious decisions on my part (ie. placement of the kitchen and primary bedroom) – this may not be what the client expected, but I think it still meets the brief, as given. Other points are very well taken, particularly around the bathroom issues. Thank you!

    As mentioned earlier, I like several features of many of the other submissions. Several of them work better than my own. For this design exercise, though, I thought I’d learn more by trying something different. Where my concept doesn’t fully meet the client’s stated wishes (e.g. separate study), I’d have to persuade them that it simply meets their needs differently … and brings more light and openness to the overall living area, which is what I think the more typical room arrangement compromises.

    So, thanks for the great feedback. My work can only improve with informed critique, and I appreciate yours!

  • BradW

    Steve – Thanks…I have on many of the design exercises gone in a different direction for precisely the reasons you cite. It creates discussion on the forum – something I would say you succeeded in doing very well this week.

  • max

    What software is being used to edit the downloaded plans?

  • Terri

    Hi Max, Most of us open the jpg file using the Paint program but some use a more sophisticated (or possibly versatile)program. Could someone else provide the program name?

    I hate to wade into this forum at this point but I’m compelled. I hope I don’t make things worse, by saying I agree with John. I believe both of you, Louis and Brad, are basically on the same page. The problem is this medium–it is devoid of intonation, body language, timing and so on. I’m guessing that Louis was in a hurry when he made the comment in question. When he reads this later, he’ll feel bad that he offended you, Brad. Afterall, you were the first to draw our attention to Steve’s plan here today–obviously you embrace the open forum concept.

    Anyway, thanks, everyone! It’s been a lively and interesting and informative discussion, as always.

  • Doug Roberts

    Hi Max

    I believe that most slow homers use either MS Paint (for Windows) or Paintbrush (for Mac), both of which are available as a free download.

  • Louis Pereira

    Wow…what just happened here?

    There was, without question, and unequivocally, no slight intended…to anyone. I am profoundly regretful.

    “My words must therfore be few. I can say no more.” – Chief Joseph