The doors to three contemporary houses designed by local architect Lori Bork Newcomer were wide open on Saturday, May 30. Their owners were generous participants in a tour of homes put on by a group of design savvy and urbane Atlantans.
Tours like these appeal to voyeuristic needs. We get to see how other people live. In this case, we also get to see how people can possibly survive without ornate molding, generous amounts of trim, separate dining rooms, white columns and formal entryways.
The event, a satellite tour, was part of the larger MA Architecture Tour and International Design Expo. With the theme of “Design is Human,” the goal of MA is to promote contemporary design in the Atlanta area and beyond. Satellite tours were held in several southern cities, including Athens and Asheville, NC.
Lori Bork Newcomer spent time at each residence visiting with guests and discussing her creative process. June Ball, an artist taking the tour, said she liked “to keep up with Lori’s work.”
One of the “modern” homes on tour stood out in its more traditional setting of McNutt’s Creek subdivision, yet it also fit in nicely with neighboring houses because of careful planning on the part of Bork and the homeowners (as well as intensive review regarding neighborhood code). When asked if conservative neighbors had issues with their home, one of the owners happily said, “Actually, we have gotten a lot of compliments.” He went on to praise Bork’s efforts to adapt the house to the area. “Lori did a great job of putting together a portfolio explaining how our house would relate to the neighborhood.”
Homes in McNutt’s Creek are typically sited parallel to the street. This presented a problem because the east-west positioning would not work with the solar panels the homeowners anticipate adding in the future. Bork solved the problem by designing a house that consists of two intersecting rectangles. One of the rectangles echoes the orientation of neighboring homes, while the other rectangle on a north-south axis allows for maximum light and the future panels.
The other homes on tour are located in Pulaski Heights, an area becoming known for Bork’s work and one that seems to be more accepting of deviations from the norm.
The Ebell-Bierema residence features two of Bork’s trademarks: ample light and myriad views to the outside. Clerestory windows throughout the space admit light while protecting the privacy of the owners. Multiple balconies allow for an indoor-outdoor experience and capitalize on the interesting site; one special view is of the beautiful and rusted old Standard Oil Company buildings.
A defining feature of the home is the bridge that provides entry from the street. Much of the square footage is on a lower level, allowing the home to be a generous size and still sit gracefully next to adjacent smaller homes. Composing the lower level around the parking garage brings in even more light.
The Stroud home is the most modest of the three and may be the warmest in feel. It references a traditional farmhouse, the industrial metal clad buildings seen throughout the neighborhood, and the area’s surrounding mill cottages. Bork’s signature natural lighting allows all of the custom millwork to shine, including a large kitchen island. Created from spalted beech wood by Landus Bennett, a local artisan who did extensive work on the restoration of the Georgia Theatre, the island is the real center of the home; this became clear at the end of the day, as friends and visitors ultimately gathered there to unwind.
MA! signs were posted at each home on the tour. The MA stands for modern architecture. While I admire the homes and Bork’s work, I wonder if CA! might have been more appropriate. The spaces seem contemporary and easy to live in, but with their numerous planes and varied materials, not always rigidly modern.
‘Design is Human’ week continues in Atlanta through Sunday. For more information, go to ma-designishuman.com. More homes by Bork Design will be on view on the Athens Modern Homes Tour on Saturday, Sept. 12. Visit aidsathens.org for details.