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July 31, 2017





We all want “our” home. Some want it so badly that they find a way to design and build their dream. Even fewer hire a designer to create a unique reflection of who they are. This very special Home Page focuses on a real life scenario where a homeowner and a designer joined forces to build a place to live in New Haven. Both will be in studio to relay their story, but it’s your job to review the photo’s below to go where radio can’t: image and space.

Designer Colin Caplan met editor and journalist Nina Lentini on one of his “Pixxa & Pints” bike tours. Both are gregarious. Both love pizza and architecture. Caplan trained to be an architect at Tulane, writes books about New Haven and beyond organizing tours has been an employee of numerous local architects, Both Colin and Nina talk to strangers. The rest is recent history.

Nina and her significant other Richard Norman had a tiny lot in New Haven, and Caplan created a very clear shape and an allusive skin, evoking many client fantasies as well a fantastic interior space and large window corner opening up to the backyard. Through humor and commitment, a dream was built.

According to Caplan:

“The client, empty nesters from the suburbs, wanted to build a small house on a tiny lot. The lot was a garbage strewn property in a transitional inner city neighborhood, once the site of a multifamily apartment house. They wanted a design that stood out from others on the street, made of early 20th century multifamily frame housing and apartments. At first they suggested a modular designed unit, but it was determined to be too constrictive. Art Deco style was indicated early on as a favorite. Clients also liked the idea of escaping the facade design on the rear of their house. As we developed their program for a two bedroom, on bathroom 700sf house I considered the context of neighboring designs and scale, sunlight, rain & snow, spacial balance & materials. Project needed zoning relief on the rear and passed its hearing. During construction changes were made to value engineer certain systems and fixtures. Original exterior skin on facade was to be stucco, but was changed to a fiberboard composite sheathing.”

Cost was a factor: and bidding got it to around $200K  – the winning bidder knew Nina in High School. A two year process created a tangible piece of love in the new world of empty-nesters. The openness of the interior and the graphic pattern of the exterior make for humor, surprise, memory and connection to the owner’s lives: as well as the window wall bonding house to the land, inside and out.

Even in a post Housing Bubble, House Happens

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