Sited on a steeply sloped hillside on Lake Martin, the Dugas Residence takes its form from two primary site conditions: aligning each of the primary spaces parallel to an adjacent stream, and positioning the screened porch high enough to enable a distant view to the lake. The resulting form rises from the hillside in a simple, but dramatic, expression of these design objectives.

Comprised of a center ridge and two converging valleys, the client’s property seemed to offer the smallest of buildable sites. However, the site’s most compelling features: a long view to the water possible only from a high vantage point and a bubbling stream in one of the two valleys, became the primary shaping conditions of the design.

Along the east side of the form, each primary space (Master Bedroom, Bath, Entry Foyer, Dining Porch, Living Room, and Screened Porch) are arrayed parallel to the stream and are enlivened by the sound of water falling down to the lake. The penultimate space, a vaulted screened porch, features a view to the lake in the distance.

The form of the home is expressed as a simple extruded gable, clad in red siding and supported by a heavy timber frame as is rises above the steep slope. Program elements that protrude from this form are clad in corrugated metal and exterior spaces that subtract are clad in clear finished cypress. Each space that overlooks the stream features elements designed for dwelling: window seats, open porches, and screened porches. The interior materials mirror the simplicity of the exterior and feature cypress millwork and  ceilings that rise and compress to articulate the spatial sequence.

Energy Analysis: Energy Vanguard

Interior Consultant: Annie Hinson

General Contractor:  John Stewart

Photographers: Danielle Willkens / Matt Hall


Originally designed in the early part of the 1950s, this residential project was both a renovation and an addition. The primary goal of this work, as stated by the owners, was to respect and improve the original structure. Our design objective, as architects approaching the work, was to reveal the logic of the existing house, to reinforce the existing visual language and at the same time to create a new series of spatial connections and sequences.

The current owners found the house in a neglected state and set for themselves the task to renovate and improve the property. The kitchen contained hand built cabinets thick with paint, the bathroom was small by contemporary standards, the master bedroom had no closets. The response to this condition was to deploy new cabinetry in the kitchen and bathroom, reconsider the connections between these rooms and the shared space of the living room, provide for new finishes throughout the house and finally provide an addition to the master bedroom. In such a small space, each wall is expected to perform multiple functions, a bathroom wall is a bookcase in the master bedroom and a new vanity in the master bathroom. Throughout all of this work, attention was given to bringing the residence up to contemporary code and energy compliance, all of which helped to provide this building with a second life.

Project Team: Rebecca O’Neal Dagg / Sarah Wahlgren / John Sydnor

Architect of Original House (1950): J.M. Womelsdorf

Civil Engineer: Parker Lewis P.E.

Energy Analysis: Alexander Bell, Energy Vanguard

General Contractor: John Stewart


This 4200 SF private residence located in Auburn, Alabama, expresses a connection to the regional vernacular, celebrates a woodland site, and integrates sustainable design strategies.

This residence is a response to three main goals set forth by the client:  a home that reflects their sense of responsibility and stewardship of the environment; a home that evokes the language of traditional southern vernacular buildings but expresses this connection in a contemporary way; and, a home that celebrates the natural features of a beautiful, wooded site located in the rural periphery of Auburn, Alabama.

The solution that evolved from these goals is a four bedroom, 4200 SF home that arrays the primary program areas over two levels (atop a garage and partial basement). The parti is based on a simple “L” configuration, framing a courtyard space on the uphill side and arranging the major program elements into two relatively slender wings, allowing for passive cross ventilation and choreographed views into the landscape. The living room is placed in the shelter of the two arms and celebrates the view into the woodland on the uphill side of the site. Simple exterior materials and iconic vernacular forms evoke a memory of rural farmhouses, but with a modern twist.

The green design aspects of the home rest on two strategies.  Narrow cross sections and generous windows allow for day lighting and passive cross ventilation.  Additionally, the building envelope and systems are designed to minimize the energy needed to cool and heat the home.  This residence is Energy Star certified, and is the first home to attain the highest level (Green Key) of the Home Builders Association of Alabama’s new sustainable building program.

Project Team: David Hinson, Christian Dagg, Rebecca O’Neal Dagg, Uel Bassett, Steven Ward, Gorham Bird

Structural Engineer: Joe Weatherford

Interior Consultant: Annie Hinson

General Contractor: John Stewart