Houses of METAL

Here’s a pair of show-stopper houses up in Evanston, at 1216 and 1220 Main Street.

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On the right: MetalHOUSE(1), developed by architect Andrew J. Spitz as his own house in 1985.

On the left: MetalHOUSE(2), a recently-constructed successor.

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The original house, clad in anodized aluminum, features a live/work studio on the lower floor.

Cool and stylish are the watchwords here. Little details reinforce the whole, such as the gravel sideyard separating the two houses, or the harmonizing house number sign.

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I certainly cannot claim to understand or even necessarily agree with the architectural philosophy behind such buildings (nor the erratic nonstandard punctuation, spelling and capitalization that architects are so in love with.) There’s definitely an impractical side to constructing things with lots of weird angles and random corners, and my first thought on seeing any such building is, does the roof leak?

But it’s a seductive vision. These houses are totally cool to look at and, I’d wager, equally cool to live in. According to the houses’ site, they incorporate numerous green design features, including passive solar heating and plenty of natural light. The interior photos show a series of absolutely lovely spaces. And at 25 years old, MetalHouse1 is looking great.

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It’s hard not to wish for Spitz’s vision to consume the entire block. How awesome would it be to drive past an entire row of these confections? It would rock hard. It would be righteous. Possibly even… METAL. \m/

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5 thoughts on “Houses of METAL

  1. Just curious, any thoughts on how these metal homes hold up against hail? I would think after every major storm, these homes would be dented, scuffed, scratched..any idea? By the way, really enjoy your blog

  2. Oh Metal House Number One! Used to drive past this place all the time in high school. I had a driver's ed instructor that lived in Evanston and made us drive past this home once to point out that the only window he could see from the street was above the garage. "I don't know what scary ass vampires live there.' Fun memories.

  3. Yes, these "funny angle" houses are a bit more difficult to build than a "conventional" house. But they work well because Andy is very involved with the construction side of things. He's the opposite of the kind of architect who draws some pretty shapes and expects someone else to figure out how to build it and make it not leak. Andy is careful to bring those shapes/angles together in ways that can be built and very importantly flashed to seal them up.Regarding hail – the older of the two houses (on the right/west) has been there for a while and obviously isn't any worse for wear. The standing seam metal finish is backed up on something like plywood or OSB, so there isn't space behind where something like hail could create a dent.Metal siding/roofing like this is a fantastic "green" solution. It can be made with recycled content, it is 100% recyclable, and most importantly, it can be "install and forget" for literally decades. It's possible to cut into it and/or patch it, so future modifications can be made without having to rip it off and toss it in landfill. Once you put some money/energy into installing it properly, it may not need to be touched for 50 to 100 years.I worked for Andy for a summer when I was in school, as a disclaimer. (Andy's office was in the basement of the original house at that time.. and, no, the basement wasn't nearly as exciting at the rest of the house, sadly.) Sorry if this sounds like an ad for Andy or these particular houses. Nonetheless, the above are my unvarnished professional opinions as an architect.

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