Sunday, February 10, 2013

28 in 28 #10: From the Ground Up

February is Book Month on A Daily Dose of Architecture. The "28 in 28" series features a different book every day of the month.

From the Ground Up: Innovative Green Homes edited by Peggy Tully
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012
Hardcover, 160 pages

In 2008 the Syracuse University School of Architecture held the From the Ground Up design competition, asking participants to "provide a new model for formerly vital, urban residential neighborhoods throughout the United States through the creation of sustainable, affordable housing." Seven finalists were chosen from the more than 50 entries, and three of them were built—the R-House designed by ARO and Della Valle Bernheimer, COOKFOX's Live/Work/Home, and the TED House designed by Onion Flats. This book primarily serves to present the three houses as completed and now occupied, while also sharing the other four finalists, getting input on the process from then dean Mark Robbins and hearing some big-picture thoughts from Michael Sorkin and architectural historian Susan Henderson.

The title is part of the handsomely made New City Books series from Syracuse SOA and Princeton Architectural Press. Each title examines conditions in Syracuse and other cities, seeing how architecture responds to urban areas and can improve them through landscapes, infill, green building, and other means. The bulk of From the Ground Up may be three houses totaling less than 4,000 square feet, but they are part of this larger goal, both in terms of infilling a disinvested part of Syracuse and in the creation of houses that use less energy and offer smaller footprints than the average (oversized) American house. The book is thorough and tracks each project from the competition drawings to snapshots of the house's owners, a fairly uncommon documentation for some uncommon houses.