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22 Dec 2019

New Usonian House


We’re excited to report that New Usonian House is preparing to break ground in the southeast corner of Hendricks County in spring of 2020!

Our clients for this exciting project contacted us in mid-2018.  Specifically, they were ready to begin taking action on their plan to design and build a one-story, Usonian-inspired residence.  Without a doubt, creating an environment to age-in-place was a big priority; something low-maintenance, high-performance, light-filled, and one with the surrounding site.  And most certainly, low-maintenance living was a big priority for this retirement dwelling.  They hoped to subdivide their 15-acre property and build on the side pasture (5-7 acres).

Owners had been doing their homework.  For example, over the past few years, they have vacationed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Samuel Eppstein Residence and other intimately-scaled modern homes.  These experiences helped inspire and shape their vision for how they would like to live into retirement before ever contacting HAUS.

Having resided in a 19th-century brick Italianate farmhouse for several years, they were ready for something different to accommodate their future; something one-story, and universally-designed.


Inspired by the beautiful views to the north-northeast treeline, our clients have aptly named the property, “Sunset Ridge”.  In fact, we have designed and oriented the house to capitalize on these excellent views.  And interestingly, this view angle also aligns with the primary jet flight-path over this site, which is just a few miles southwest of the Indianapolis International Airport.

New Usonian House

Project Info:

Clients:  Private Owners (retirement, universally-designed dwelling)
Architecture:  HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles with Client
Interior Design:  HAUS with Client
Photography/Renderings:  HAUS (except where noted otherwise)

Usonian Vision – Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Vision (excerpt from Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation)

Responding to the financial crisis of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression that gripped the United States and the rest of the world, Wright began working on affordable housing, which developed into the Usonian house. Wright’s Usonians were a simplified approach to residential construction that reflected both economic realities and changing social trends. In the Usonian houses, Wright was offering a simplified, but beautiful environment for living that Americans could both afford and enjoy. Wright would continue to design Usonian houses for the rest of career, with variations reflecting the diverse client budgets.

“Hey, that sounds familiar!  Our clients also all have various budgets!”, says HAUS

Relevant Links:

Here are some relevant links about Usonian Architecture:

CURBED:  Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house becomes architect’s home in Lake Forest

DWELL:  A Renovated Usonian Gem Shows Off Modern Organic Architecture

ARCHITECT MAGAZINE:  Usonian House at Florida Southern College



The Design Process – New Usonian House:

With our clients, we began the design process in the middle of 2018.  By the end of the year, we had established a firm design direction and overall project scope.  However, before continuing forward to develop more detailed design development, our clients wanted to pause and take care of a few due-diligence items.

First, the property needed to be subdivided.  This wasn’t totally straightforward, as there were a few tricky zoning hurdles to clear involving street-side landscaping, sidewalks, and drainage.  Also, we needed to confirm that new well and septic service was workable, and determine how we were handling utilities.  While all of this was happening, our client worked to also get their existing property ready for sale.

After exploring a few different organizational concepts, we settled on the plan layout below.  Public and private areas are segregated in plan.  Subsequently, the 3D architectural solution followed suit, utilizing a combination of flat and shed roofs to reinforce the inherent hierarchies established in the diagram.

T-shaped Plan Organizes and Segregates Public + Private Areas - New Usonian House - Mooresville, IN - HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles, Architect - Christopher Short, AIA
T-shaped plan segregates public and private areas of the home and orients to solar – New Usonian House – Mooresville, Indiana (Schematic Design – November 2019)

Future Accommodations

For this project, we are planning for a future ground-mounted solar array to serve the home.  Also, we are currently scoping for use of ICF-insulated concrete forms for the basement and foundation walls.

Next Steps

We re-engaged the design in fall 2019.  Currently, build team is pricing-out the basic construction documents to make sure we’re in-budget for the scopes identified.  For the most part, we are holding on final design refinements until we cross that bridge.


Spring 2020 Update


We are sorry to report that construction of this particular design will not be moving forward as planned due to budget concerns.  Instead, our client has decided to change course and build something more common on the site.  They ultimately decided that they would rather retire earlier than work longer to pay for this particular vision.  Most certainly this is very disappointing, and a circumstance that the “HAUS process” was specifically designed to prevent.

Question:  If that’s the case, then how did this happen?

Budget + Design Scopes Management

Early in the Schematic Design process, our client did share their budget range goals.  They said they could possibly go a bit over these goals, but prefer not to do that.  During that process, HAUS advised that the current design was most likely over that range.  We suggested that we either make the project smaller, simplify the design, increase the budget, or a little of each.  HAUS also advised that WERK | Building Modern be the construction manager to help facilitate the design + budgeting process in anticipation of likely challenges ahead.  The HAUS + WERK design-build process ensures the closest communication possible between client-design-budgeting-budget pricing-construction and helps avoid inefficiencies.

Our client was very happy with the design as-is, and was not interested in cutting any scopes or area.  They expressed reservation about HAUS’ suggested cost-sf allowances (too high), and instead elected to work with another builder based on a referral.  This decision was largely based on Owner dialogue with that party about building for a lower cost-sf.  However, HAUS advised client that that this suggested lower cost-sf allowance was for a much different kind of project.  HAUS also advised that construction costs should not have radical variations between parties for clear, apples-to-apples scopes of work (among quality, reputable operations).

Pressing Forward

We were still excited about the project, and it was a pleasure working with this client.  Even if WERK was not gong to be the builder, we had high hopes for what the vision could become.  And if we had to pick a builder to work with other than WERK, this builder was on the list.

So instead of making the project smaller, simpler, or agreeing to increase the budget allowance, we proceeded forward with the design to complete budget-pricing documents.  Along the way, we actually increased the overall size and added more energy-efficiency enhancements to the details of the project.  And since an outside builder was pricing the project, we completed these preliminary documents to a higher level of detail than if WERK were negotiating with client.

The pricing process took longer than anticipated, and we don’t recall getting any design or scope questions along the way.  Our drawings were a pretty good start, but still, it’s unusual to not have an ongoing dialogue and understanding between architect and builder during the pricing process.  Also, our client was the intermediary between architect and builder, which was odd.  And we learned that client had never shared their budget goals with builder.  It wasn’t surprising that the pricing came-in high, but was surprising how high.  In the end, we were not able to find a workable scope-budget balance, unfortunately.  Our client paid us to design a project that they will not be building.

On the bright side, our client’s modified design does appear to have maintained most of the plan layout concepts.  See the construction process here.  Owner worked with RLS Building Corporation on the modified plan and implementation.


Due to our refined design + construction process, this scenario very rarely happens.  But now that it has popped-up, we need understand the why, and work to eliminate it from happening in the future.

We need to be sure to follow an architect-led process.

If there is a budget concern, we need to raise the red-flag higher and louder.

There has to be good communication between client, architect and builder.


If anyone has any questions or feedback on the above, please feel free to contribute dialogue in the comments section below or contact us!

04 Nov 2015

Urban Mid Rise Flat

This Urban Mid Rise Flat was a unique opportunity to design a fully custom unit responding to client lifestyle, panoramic views, and shell structure.

This project was featured in Wall Street Journal Article, “Luxury Homes Foyers Get Functional and Fabulous”.

Urban Mid Rise Flat

Project Info:

Interior Architecture/Design/Renderings/Photography:  HAUS | Architecture
Developer:  429 on the Park
Contractor:  Stenz Construction
Custom Millwork:  Myers Cabinets, Inc.
PreManufactured Cabinets:  ProBuild
Featured:  August 20, 2015 Wall Street Journal
Featured:  2012 AIA Home Tour

02 Sep 2015

Asian Modern

Having collaborated with us on their previous move from Carmel to Downtown Indy, this client reversed the trek and requested help enhancing a model home on northside – Asian Modern.

The goal was to bring certain modern features from downtown penthouse back to this new suburban home, including integration of pre-existing and new furniture + sophisticated lighting and design details.  Client travels + finds = Asian inspired living.

Asian Modern

Project Info:

Architecture:  HAUS | Architecture
Interior Design Collaboration:  Marika Designs
Builder:  Homes by John McKenzie
Photography:  Greg Murphey Studios, Inc.
Featured:  2007 Indianapolis Monthly Home of the Year

02 Nov 2015

Photography Studio

We are happy to have had the opportunity to design the Brand Photography Studio in Fishers.

The design solution supports current and future client photography needs while responding to its industrial technology park context.  Facility includes gallery, lobby/sales area, office space, changing areas, and large studio space incorporating north light.  Event lease space is available for special events.  Tilt-up precast concrete and wood-framed construction are combined for an aesthetic balancing the scale of surrounding industrial buildings with a richer, more intimately-scaled entry/gallery/office component. 




Photography Studio

Project Info:

Architecture/Interior Design:  HAUS | Architecture
Design Collaboration:  Christopher Short, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD&C + Clete Kunce, AIA
Landscape Architect:  nineBARK
Civil Engineer:  Roger Ward Engineering, Inc.
Structural Engineer:  Smith Roberts & Associates, Inc.
MEP Engineer:  CC Engineering
Construction Management:  Catalyst Construction Management, Inc.
Photography:  Brand Photo Design
Featured:  2010 AIA Indiana Merit Design Award
Featured:  2011 AIA Indianapolis Citation Design Award

02 Sep 2015

Industrial Modern Interior

Client was interested in industrial Modern Interior and downtown living affording low maintenance and enabling heavy travel schedule + work proximity downtown.

New entry wall element ties together entry, bedrooms, and living spaces featuring steel barn doors, new lighting, and dry bar area. New industrial design aesthetic is tied together with use of steel and concrete in custom design + furniture features.

Industrial Modern Interior

Project Info:

Interior Architecture/Furnishings:  HAUS | Architecture
Construction Management:  WERK | Building Modern
Lighting/Controls/Blinds:  Doherty Design Group, LLC.
Custom Steelwork/Furniture:  John Beck Steel
Photography:  Red Rocket + HAUS

14 Oct 2015

Shingle Style Lakehouse

Client decided to create Shingle Style Lakehouse by rebuilding family condo in Nantucket Bay, Indianapolis in the spirit of the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give”.

The Nantucket feel was captured with the right proportions and style utilizing the right materials – a great team effort.

Shingle Style Lakehouse

Project Info:

Architecture:  HAUS | Architecture
Interior Design Collaboration:  Evaline Karges Interiors
Landscape Architecture/Installation: A2 Design (Eric Anderson)
Kitchen Consultant:  Kitchens by Teipen, Inc.
Contractor:  Stenz Construction Corporation
Photography:  Greg Murphey Studios + Anthony Valainis for Indianapolis Monthly
Featured:  2009 Indianapolis Monthly Home of the Year

02 Aug 2015

Modern Interior Penthouse

Originally the Morris Plan Bank Building on East Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis, this Modern Interior Penthouse unit is the crowning jewel of the redevelopment that was completed in 2002.

Our client wanted to relocate from the suburbs to experience urban living. Although they had been living in a more traditional setting, they were open to exploring a more modern approach to design. Since this unit had the entire top building floor with which to work, the new design focused on enhancing and simplifying the existing structure in an open-plan layout. Open space was defined by ceiling treatments and a multi-functional millwork spine serving as Kitchen, Dining, Wet Bar, and Entertainment Center all in one swoop. Other details include neon lighting, steel and acrylic barn doors, and mosaic tile Master Spa.

We ended-up with a complete overhaul of their furnishings and furniture to fit the new space (except, we did incorporate Owner piano and artwork). A subtle Asian Modern theme was influenced by client travels/art for a fresh take on downtown living.

Modern Interior Penthouse

Project Info:

Architecture/Interior Design:  Christopher Short while with AXIS
Design Collaboration:  Amber Fette while with AXIS
Construction Management:  Hoosier Contracting, LLC
Photography:  Chris Bucher Photographs
Featured:  2003 AIA Indiana Citation Award for Interior Architecture
Featured:  2002 Monumental Affair Merit Award for Interior Design

02 Sep 2015

French Country Estate

Since we had worked with previous landowner on an ultra-modern dream home for this same site, the new buyer was not convinced that HAUS would be the right fit to design a French Country Estate.

As it turns-out, we and a great team were able to successfully negotiate a dignified design solution on a multi-tiered site.

French Country Estate

Project Info:

Architecture:  HAUS | Architecture
Design Collaboration:  Christopher Short, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD&C + Clete Kunce, AIA
Builder:  Tom Harris/Custom Woodworks, Inc.
Interior Design Collaboration:  A New Arrangement
Kitchen Designer:  de Giulio Kitchen Design
Lighting Consultant:  Doherty Design Group, LLC
Landscape Design + Installation:  Walton & Vetor, Inc.
Photography:  HAUS + Patrick Kestner

Here is a view of the modern design we completed with previous property Owner for same site location.

French Country Estate
French Country Estate Site (modern design for previous property owner)
12 Oct 2015

Treatment Center

Multi-use Treatment Center supports the mission of Lutheran Child & Family Services and families in need.

New replacement facility includes corporate office space, school classrooms, chapel, and secure dormitories for this important community organization.

Treatment Center

Project Info:

Architecture/Interior Design:  HAUS | Architecture
Design Collaboration:  Christopher Short, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD&C + Clete Kunce, AIA
Landscape Architect:  Rundell Ernstberger & Associates, Inc.
Civil Engineer:  EMH&T
Structural Engineer:  Smith Roberts & Associates, Inc.
MEP Engineer:  R.E. Dimond
Construction Management:  Duke Construction
Photography (exterior):  HAUS | Architecture + Studio 13
Photography (interior):  Jeffrey Jacobs Photography
Featured:  2011 AIA Indiana Honor Award
Featured:  2011 Monumental Affair Honor Award

01 Aug 2015

New Modern Farmhouse 2

He’s a little bit city, she’s a little bit country, … but the dogs rule the day. The concept for this new home in Crawfordsville balances traditional and modern for a twist on the New Modern Farmhouse 2.

The long-term plan for this development on family farmland involves a Phase 1 Barn (build it – live in it), then pursue the actual residence as Phase 2. Please check back for updates.

New Modern Farmhouse 2

Project Info:

Architecture/Renderings:  HAUS | Architecture