Blending Art and Design

The story of how this home came into existence is not new — the client on several occasions over many years came close to pulling the trigger on a total rebuild, choosing instead to endure a few rounds of remodeling. Then one day the owners were ready to break ground on their dream home.

For Fleischman Garcia Architecture in Tampa, Fla., the relationship with the clients began in 1984 and continued until two years ago when the existing home on the property was torn down to make room for the Wright-inspired masterpiece that sits in its place. The owners wanted a one-story home that maximizes ocean views on one side and canal views on the other. Fitting the home onto a pie-shaped lot was challenging, but Sol Fleischman Jr., AIA, was prepared.

“There are only two rooms in the house that don’t have a bay view; the study in the front which has a view of the landscaped courtyard, and one of the guest bedrooms in the front. All the other rooms have water views. It was a priority to have as many rooms with views as possible, but in a one-story house that’s always a challenge,” Fleischman says.

Hybrid style

The owners’ appreciation for Frank Lloyd Wright’s work lent itself nicely to a home in Tampa, Fla., with deep overhangs to shade windows, for example, where the late afternoon sun can be brutal and overhangs help keep it cool inside.

“The style of this home is a hybrid of prairie, Craftsman and some rustic California with horizontal lines, deep overhangs, a low hip roof, stacked stone, iron work and more,” Fleischman explains. “It also has a contemporary influence with stainless steel cable railings, which are used to maximize the views of the water from the house; it’s minimal and doesn’t interfere with the views or conflict with the architecture.”

A main feature of the home is the clients’ art collection, so Fleischman and his team designed plenty of places throughout the home to display it in style. “We created art niches wherever we could. We used concealed lighting to highlight it, which makes the kitchen a gallery of its own,” he says.

The extensive Western art collection is dominated by several large bronze sculptures displayed in the large gallery designed into the front of the home (above). As one enters the house and looks right, the gallery room resides where traditionally a formal living room would be. Gallery-style adjustable ceiling lighting in the main gallery and throughout the house highlights the art.

Design/build magic

Once the builder was brought onto the project, the design/build process worked its magic, Fleischman says. The builder, Tim Stroyne, president/owner of Monogram Builders, Clearwater, Fla., provided input on materials and buildability in a collaborative effort which included the owner. “[The owner] wanted to be involved with every decision; he wanted to be part of the solution. I’ve worked with plenty of clients, and this one was as involved as any other we’ve worked with,” Fleischman adds.

Stroyne was brought in during the design development phase when the schematic was completed but far from working drawings. “Most architects prefer the owner bring the builder in early for cost control, material advice and input on design details. They’ll pick our minds during the design phase. It’s my belief that ultimately it’s an architect’s job to educate the client on real costs, not the lowest costs.”

On-the-fly redesign was not necessary on this job, Stroyne says, because everyone knew the challenges going in, including how his team would pull off many details. “But it doesn’t mean it was easy,” he says.

Details included elements such as no casings around doors. “Those details might look simplistic in approach, but they are far from it. Those interior doors must be hung in three stages, and it’s complicated. We self-perform all our framing and rough-in and painting. Our guys are put to the test,” Stroyne says.

The door jambs are on the same plane as the wall with a half-inch space between the jamb and the drywall, Stroyne explains. “That required so much accuracy, we had our trim carpenters install the drywall. We took it upon ourselves to install the right material.”

A detail that didn’t require as much accuracy but adds a wonderful effect is the wood ceiling over the back patio (see cover photo). “If we didn’t do anything with the ceiling over the back patio, we would have had lots of white out there,” Fleischman says. “So to create warmth and a homey effect I designed this wood ceiling with furniture-grade wood stained and varnished to a high luster. It’s gorgeous and it warms up the outdoors making it a true outdoor living room.

“The outdoor ceiling ties into the master bedroom ceiling which is adjacent to the terrace. The master bedroom has glass French doors through which you can see the terrace and its ceiling. The master bedroom ceiling is stained ash.

The living room features a hanging wood grid that helps carry the wood feeling throughout the home,” he says.

A metal roof was chosen for this home to add something distinctive that also will not blow off in a hurricane and is compatible with prairie-style architecture. It’s in a custom color to match the aluminum framing. Stone is used through the home to warm up the house. “We warm it up on the outside with a contrast with the smooth stucco. Stone adds color and texture, especially at night when the landscape lighting shoots up the stone and illuminates the roof overhangs,” Fleischman says.

The drama at night created by the lighting is an important part of the design, Fleischman notes. “I coordinated my work with the landscape designer’s to make the house sing.”

The most challenging aspect of this home was designing to V-zone requirements which call for withstanding the full brunt of hurricanes from of the west. “One requirement is standing up to 120-mph wind, and another is putting the house on pilings like a commercial building. All glass is laminated impact glass, so in the event of a hurricane they do not need to cover windows with plywood.”

Designer’s favorites

Fleischman has designed hundreds of residential projects in his career but this home is one of his favorites. It’s one of a few homes he has designed he would enjoy living in, he says. “This is a home that is comfortable, livable, has large rooms for gatherings and small rooms for cozy living. It’s a good size.”

His favorite part of the house is the foyer which ascends almost two stories, includes clerestory light filtering down from above, plenty of stone, coved lighting illuminating the upper walls, a wonderful dish chandelier, detail and views into three other rooms.

Fleischman Garcia Architecture Planning Interior Design
Tampa, Fla.

Monogram Builders
Clearwater, Fla.

Project name: Culbreath Isles Residence
Project location: Tampa, Fla.
Square footage: 5,560
Total project cost (not land): $4 million

Roofing: Englert Metal Roofing
Stone: Eldorado Stone
Doors: WeatherSheild
Insulation: Icynene
Skylights: Solatube

Motorized shades: Lutron
Fireplaces: Isokern
Tile: Walker Zanger, Sonoma Tileworks, Sintesi, Ceramic Solutions, FAP Ceramiche, Vitrium Tile
Flooring: Walker Zanger, BR-111, Ann Sacks, Ceramic Solutions

Sinks: Elkay
Faucets: Dornbracht
Range, Oven, Drawers: Wolf
Refrigerator, Wine storage: Sub-Zero
Dishwasher: Miele

Home control: Crestron
Lighting control: Lutron
Structured wiring,Security: GE
Theater projector: Pioneer
Media server, Touchpanels: Crestron