Simply Modern 

A Brighton Road duplex proves less is more

A Brighton Road duplex proves less is more

The 3700 block of Brighton Road is a land of multi-family living. But one duplex stands out from the crowd. The dwellings bear the signature style of architect Price Harrison—modern, but classically so. Like the pioneer modernists of the 20th century—in particular, the Viennese Adolf Loos—Harrison relies on large plates of glass adeptly placed in unadorned planes for architectural effect.

Harrison's house is the front unit of two the architect designed for the very deep and narrow site. "Joe Rowland found the lot, which had a very ordinary '60s brick duplex on it," he says. "Joe wanted to build two new units, because he felt the cost of the land didn't justify a single family home. He asked me to design both, with his at the rear and mine out front."

The placement of the two houses on the site maintains the traditional setbacks of the neighborhood. To minimize sound creep and maximize privacy, Harrison inserted the wall shared by the two dwellings between the garages. The form of his own residence is a modified U surrounding an internal courtyard.

The palette of materials for Harrison's house is kept to a minimum: an exterior of concrete stucco with bronze fascia on the cantilevered roof, mahogany windows and ash floors. The effect, however, is not spartan simplicity but luxurious austerity because of the self-evident quality of the finishes.

"I wanted to capitalize on the small scale of my house—2,100 square feet—by using very high- grade materials," Harrison explains. "The windows account for nearly 10 percent of the overall cost."

The interior is clearly organized and fully used—no formal, special event rooms. Living, dining and kitchen functions share one long rectangular space flooded with natural light and views of the neighborhood's lush canopy of trees.

Walls and furnishings are various shades of white, with accents of black and wood for warmth. Seating is of leather, tables of glass and bird's-eye maple. Recesses flanking the floating ceiling conceal drapery hardware. Shelves in the living area display Stacy Davis Harrison's collection of art glass.

The kitchen features Greek marble counters and white painted cabinets with mahogany inserts.

The master suite includes a closet wall behind the bed, and a bath of white tile and marble. The guest bedroom doubles as TV viewing space, the front bedroom as Harrison's home office.

"I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible," Harrison explains. "Stacy is a cardiologist in Vanderbilt's transplant program, which is a high-stress job. When she comes home, she needs tranquility."

In going for smaller and higher caliber, Harrison is bucking the McMansion trend. Or maybe he's catching the wave of a countercurrent. The house is to appear in the book Small Dwellings, Large Lives by Jim Gauer, which will be published in September by Monacelli Press.

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