Category: Residential
Location: Covington, KY 41011
Size: 4800 sq. ft.
Masonry Used:Endicott "Dark Ironspot" Solid Norman Brick. Quantity = 41 cubes totaling approx. 12,000 bricks
Submitted by: Michael McInturf Architects

Project Description

Sited along a steep hillside in Kentucky, overlooking downtown Cincinnati and the Ohio River valley, this 4800 SF modern residence is formally subdivided in “wings” of space focusing on critical site views and organized by the public, private, and utilitarian functions of the owners. Throughout the residence, brick is utilized as a durable, culturally-specific material linking the contemporary residence to the rich history of masonry use within the industrial and residential architecture of the region and historic city below.

The front facade employs brick as an emblem of security, rising up and wrapping the front wing of the house. Aside from projecting a formal terminus to the entry drive, this wall performs as an expressive surface, responding to the environmental forces acting upon the structure in the windblown hillside condition. Where window openings occur, the bricks rotate in a tapered pattern, evoking the visual of turbulence on a fluid surface. The façade turns at the hill edge to block the wind, eventually rotating the bricks 90 degrees and delaminating from the façade. This forms a wind screen for the exterior deck at the master bedroom and in addition the rippling brick screen filters the sun as it sets to the west, casting dynamic shadows on the exterior spaces.

The Norman Iron Spot brick chosen provides a unique visual suited the modern design. The metallic glaze applied to the Ebony base color enhances the surface dynamism, creating variable tones of earthy reds, dark grays, and flashes of silver that undulate depending on the season, time of day and the rotation of the bricks in the composition.

Due to the challenge of the hillside site as well as cost constraints, robotic assembly of the brick walls was not feasible. A series of lightweight wood guide templates were constructed in-house by the architects, referencing geometry output directly from their digital model. The templates were designed in manageable lengths to accommodate the ergonomic constraints of a single mason standing on scaffolding, enabling a precise translation from digital to physical.

Consistent with modernist desires, brick walls and walkways flow seamlessly throughout the residence establishing a visual dialogue connecting the interior environment to the natural site.

At the kitchen patio facade, the exterior wall folds out to form a brick walkway, then transforms into the base for a built-in grill. This design approach not only provides a seamless transition from the exterior patio seating to the interior spaces, but blurs the boundaries between wall, floor, and object into a comprehensive architectural surface.

Project Participants

Architect / Designer's Name: Michael McInturf
Company: Michael McInturf Architects
Phone: (513) 639-2351

Structural Engineer' s Name: Shayne Manning
Company: THP Limited, Inc.
Phone: (513) 241-3222

General Contractor's Name: Patrick Gilles
Company: Turnbull-Wahlert Construction, Inc.
Phone: (513) 731-7300

Masonry Contractor's Name: Doug Waggoner
Company: Kestner/Waggoner Restoration Group Inc.
Phone: (859) 331-1002

Masonry Supplier's Name: Adam Marlman
Company: Division 4 Inc.
Phone: (513) 396-7625

Landscape Architect's Name: Michael McInturf
Company: Michael McInturf Architects
Phone: (513) 639-2351