House full of holes by David Hovey

Beams with holes

A few years ago architect/builder David Hovey designed and built this house for himself and his family in Winnetka, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Like most of Hovey’s buildings the house is constructed of relatively simple materials, including perforated steel I-beams, and all its parts are designed to be pre-fabricated and then shipped in. The house took only two days to assemble. It’s airy and welcoming, minimalist without being forbidding, and really well decorated. It takes a lot of skill to use this much red and yellow without producing a mustard-and-ketchup colour scheme – how many architects, let alone builder/architects, are this good at interior design as well? All this house needs is an indoor swing; you could hang one just about anywhere. Via AD (article worth reading). Photos by Jon Miller and Hedrich Blessing. More on Hovey at mocoloco and here.

It would neither have to be so luxurious, large, nor use so much glass. The permutations and possibilities are endless and could be made to fit Canadian climates and needs.

It is always interesting to see what architects build for themselves. I tend to trust them more when they actually live in the buildings they design. Many, many do not.

House by and for architect David Hovey

“I’ve spent my career thinking about how to design buildings economically and efficiently,” [Hovey] says. “I want to create systems that go together simply, in a way that leads to rapid construction. By reducing the elapsed time between design and occupancy, I can save a lot of administrative costs. And I want to put everything together using standard products and familiar technologies, which saves even more.”

Vancouver could use builder architects like Hovey, people with a good eye and an interest in simple materials affordably assembled.

House by and for architect David Hovey

House by and for architect David Hovey

House by and for architect David Hovey

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4 Responses to “House full of holes by David Hovey”

  1. john hopper Says:

    I’m not a huge fan of exposed industrial beams, but I really like this. I love the way that the beams have become an integral part of the interior rather than being used as a gritty industrial prop as seen in so many of those warehouse conversions of the last couple of decades. The colour scheme works really well with the wood tones.

  2. Mark Erickson Says:

    I had the privilege of fabricating the steel on this project years ago under a former employer. This included the main structure (beams/columns), the upper/lower decks, the cantilever deck (that was a fun one) and also having a hand in building the stairs. I must admit, at the time of fabrication, that I was quite unsure of Mr. Hovey’s vision of the completed project. After seeing the home upon completion everything made sense. This is a work of art and I feel blessed to have been a part of it!

  3. LB Says:

    Thanks for that story! You’re lucky. I would love to have seen the before and after and I agree it’s a work of art. I actually like industrial beams, but at the construction stage I think I’d have balked at the circular cutouts as too busy, too dominating, and too meccano. But I love them here, probably because of the airiness and all the repetition, and the fact that they’re mostly yellow and match the blond wood. I think it’s a brilliant house. How long did you work on it?

  4. Mark Erickson Says:

    Wow, I wish I could give you a definite answer on the time I invested in this project but that had to have been well over 10 years ago. I’m guessing about a month to 6 weeks or so. Also, I worked for the shop that fabricated the steel, not the erectors. By the time I got to go to the jobsite (for the first time) the house was pretty much finished. At a later time I did get to go out to install the steel mesh under the glass panels located in the cantilever deck. I met Mr. Hovey and his wife that day…. awesome people! Working on jobs like this are what influenced me to get into detailing steel/design work.

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