Capturing Views

Dominick Tringali Architects, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is known for its details and highly crafted custom homes. And its work on the Ott Residence is no exception. Built on one of the largest lakes in Michigan — Lake St. Clair — soil and water issues presented challenges but didn’t prevent Paul Samartino, Associate AIA, lead designer, from creating views of the lake in every room in the home.

“The site and views were the real inspiration. The views are endless; the lot offered 180-degree panoramic views of water. [Naturally, the homeowners] wanted to maximize the views of the lake,” Samartino says.

When guests walk through the front door, they are greeted with an impressive staircase that Samartino calls a reverse staircase with views of the lake. “The main reason for that type of stair in this house is because when you walk in the front door you get a direct, unobstructed view out the back of the house and see the horizon of the lake beyond. The stair sweeps behind you, over the front door. So it really offers a dynamic view vs. a bridge that goes across,” Samartino says. Views of the lake are also available on the second story of the staircase.

A nautical theme is subtly carried throughout the home with design details and homeowner touches. “The ceiling in the parlor area was inspired by a nautical theme where you get that round, compass feeling. It was a fun element that worked well in that space,” he says. The windows in this room were also designed with a nautical theme and to match the ceiling.

The home’s pub space was influenced by a hull of a boat. “We barreled the ceiling with teak that is reminiscent of a boat. The homeowner added a nautical antique lighting fixture from a boat,” Samartino says.

The pub offers a very strong view of the lake that is also captured from the dining room. “[The dining room] is directly in front of the house and doesn’t have a view of the lake, but we actually captured it if you look through the pub and see the lake that way. That being the only room without a direct view of the lake, we still achieved it by looking through [the pub],” he says.

The garage has room for five cars but doesn’t overtake the design of the home. “The garage is set up where there is a three-car garage attached to the house and then we did a porte cochere which leads you to the motor court.

Then there is a detached two-car garage but it’s all connected with the roof. Vehicles will not be sitting in front of the house,” Samartino says.

The amount of required garage space presented a challenge for the team as the local codes restricted its size. To overcome that challenge, Samartino labeled one of the garages as a workshop.

Other challenges in the design of this house were the soil and water issues at the site. “We had a high water table so the home has 6-ft.-wide spread footings around the entire home and under the garages because the soil was so unstable. We have three sump pumps in the house — interior, exterior and backup,” Samartino adds. “Extra reinforced concrete slab flooring was also used to prevent uplift from the water pressure in the soil.”

Samartino’s favorite parts of the house include the pub, master bath and family room because of the views and details within the spaces. And knowing what he knows now, he says he wouldn’t change a thing about the process of creating the house. “I go out to the house and it works. There isn’t anything that I look at and think is a mistake,” he says. “The site was challenging but had a lot of rewards. Sometimes if you don’t have the right client or the site doesn’t have the right views, it doesn’t work. But this house has it all.”

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Residential new construction: 90 percent
Residential remodeling:
10 percent

Roofing: CertainTeed
Siding: Azek
WindowsL Weather Shield
Garage doors: Clopay

Cabinets: Wood Mode
Sinks: Blanco
Faucets: Grohe
Range: Wolf
Refrigerators: Sub-Zero
Dishwashers: Bosch

Tubs, toilets, sinks: Kohler
Faucets: Grohe

A nice touch: Creating custom windows

Dominick Tringali Architects had a specific design in mind for the parlor room windows. To accomplish this vision, they worked with Weather Shield Windows and Doors.

“[The process] usually starts by working with our dealers and then the dealers come to us. Or [designers and builders] can call our Architectural Hotline and we can work directly with them,” says Jeff Kibler, corporate accounts marketing manager, Weather Shield Windows and Doors.

Weather Shield strives to assist architects and designers with achieving their window designs; however, there are some limitations to keep in mind. “There’s always going to be limitations to what can be manufactured whether it’s glass or some other material. So if someone wants a curtain of glass, we will need to tell them from an engineering standpoint what makes sense; where reinforcements need to be; and make sure the product is certified for the opening,” Kibler says.

One consideration Kibler says architects must consider is the thermal and structural requirements of the windows, as well as the handling capabilities on the jobsite. “If it’s a large piece, you want to make sure it can be handled on the jobsite,” he says.

Weather Shield has a history of working with architects and designers including historically accurate windows for historical projects, or unique trim. “If it’s something like adding details to a product that is standard, it’s not a problem. We’ve mimicked moulding from other parts of a house,” Kibler says.

If architects want to do something unique but aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for, Weather Shield can assist with this, too. “Our team sees a variety of things. We have libraries of what we’ve done in the past. Chances are we’ve done something like it or we can give different options,” he says.

Turnaround time for custom windows varies by the project. “If they are looking for quotes and shop times, it will take a week or longer,” says Kibler. “If we have to get quotes for glass from third parties, it will take longer.”

For more information on custom windows from Weather Shield visit or call the Architectural Hotline at 800-538-8836.