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Best Green Houses:

Ferrous House

Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Spring Prairie, Wisconsin

As Isn't: An efficient modernization transforms a small suburban home beyond ticky-tacky recognition.

By David Sokol
January 2012
Photo © Doug Edmunds
...To design Ferrous House, Schmaling and co-principal Brian Johnsen took the opposite approach of their predecessor...

While they may be socially isolated, environmentally untenable, and economically irresponsible, most Americans live in suburbs, and even prefer them. The owners of Ferrous House count among this majority: This husband and wife live in Spring Prairie, Wisconsin, about 45 minutes’ drive from downtown Milwaukee, in a subdivision that lines a nature preserve. Yet when it came time to renovate their darkly lit 1,300-square-foot house, the couple defied convention.

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They rejected a McMansion scheme and the architect who supplied it. “The proposed design was, programmatically, aesthetically, and fiscally speaking, a total disaster, so the owner pulled the plug and looked for a new architect,” says Sebastian Schmaling of Johnsen Schmaling, the firm selected for round two...

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