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Studio Dwell’s Mark Peters Creates a Visual Stunner in Bucktown

GLASS WORKS: In Bucktown, an expanded townhouse becomes a clean-lined triumph of light and shadow

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Gallery-like space in Bucktown townhouse
A catwalk leads to a gallery-like space; engineered-hardwood floors with an ebony finish contrast crisply with the white walls. The large photo is by Shirin Neshat. See more photos in the gallery below.


Restraint in abundance. Translate that into Latin and you’ve got the makings of a corporate crest for Studio Dwell. You’ll never see a home by that architectural firm decked out with eyebrow windows and crenelated turrets. “A lot of architects try to get too many elements into their projects,” says Mark Peters, the firm’s founder. “We try to distill things down for a more elegant result.”

The homeowners were already ardent admirers of the Studio Dwell aesthetic when they got the opportunity to purchase the empty lot next door to their oh-so-ordinary developer townhouse in Bucktown. The gut renovation that followed was the very model of restraint—starting with the building’s footprint. The double lot would have easily justified a house two or three times the size of this 5,500-square-foot residence, but, says the wife, “it’s just the two of us. We didn’t need to take up all the space.”

Delighted with his expansive urban canvas, Peters reworked the existing layout and added an extension to create an L-shaped structure; the street façade hides an interior courtyard, terrace, and lawn. He then raised the roof and blew out the interior of the old house to create a clean-lined minimalist dream, delicately anchored at its core by a glass-walled staircase below two skylights. “The stairwell allows daylight to penetrate all the way through the house,” Peters says. “And all the rooms spin off it. Shared light is a big theme of ours.”

Peters says he visualized the residence as a rock formation with bands of color cutting across its face. But rather than quartz and shale, horizontal layers of shadow and light make up the bands. The result is visually startling both inside and out, something that delights Peters. “I want people to react to our buildings on an emotional level,” he says. “I don’t ever want someone to drive by and just say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s nice.’”


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