Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to document his journey to design 30 projects by the age of 30 (May 2020). His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Initial Design Ideas for a High End Residence

Initial Design Ideas for a High End Residence

With several projects underway, I devoted a night to develop some initial design ideas and a sketch for project 17x30, the high end single family residence in Buffalo, NY. For this particular house, the goal is to provide adequate amounts of space that are separated into private areas and gathering areas. This led to the idea of building one level of the house into the ground and partially revealing a portion of the second floor. Here’s an overview of the design concept for project 17x30.

Primary Materials

To start the conceptual design phase of the project, I brainstormed several materials that were relative to the existing fabric of the neighborhood surrounding the site. This led to three materials that were considered and eventually narrowed down to two; concrete, wood, and steel. Using concrete as load bearing walls and as the primary aesthetic of the façade relates to the grain elevators across the Buffalo River.

As I considered the other two material options, I was stuck between the relationships of wood to the existing housing fabric of the neighborhood and steel, which is a historic part of the city of Buffalo. After debating these two materials for some time, I decided to move forward with steel as the other primary structure and aesthetic of the house because of its direct relationship to the history of the city. I also had trouble coming up with a strong reason for pursuing wood as the second material because the existing housing stock uses wood mostly due to its economic value.

Designing in Section

After about a half hour of pinning a hundred different precedent projects on Pinterest, I took a look at the project site on Google Earth and decided to design the project in section. To start, I drew Ohio Street to the west of the site and once I reached the project area, I decided to make the basement an inhabitable space by placing a courtyard that’s submerged to the same level as the basement.

This basement level of the house would be used for private functions such as the bedrooms, bathroom, library, and family room. The courtyard would have stairs that lead to the front entrance and would be designed as a private outdoor area for the family to relax. As I continued sketching the section line towards Louisiana Street to the east, I realized the difference in building types on the site.

To the west of the site, there are businesses, new residences, and public functions, whereas east of the site are all residences. For this reason, I decided to slope the roof of the house with the high point on the west and the low point on the east. The roof will be a green roof that is supported by the concrete and steel structure. This will create a connection between the house and grassy site as well as the views from the existing houses across Louisiana Street to the east towards the natural aesthetic of the waterway.

The first floor of the house will be the gathering spaces which will include a living room, dining room, and kitchen.

Next Steps

As I create more time in my schedule to work on this project, I’ll continue developing the conceptual design through sketches and eventually bring it into Revit for a schematic layout and design development. I’m excited to have found the concept of the high end single family residence and I’m looking forward to seeing how it’ll work within the site. Stay tuned for more!


Starting the Revit Model of the High End Residence

Starting the Revit Model of the High End Residence

My First Online Design Shop

My First Online Design Shop