Proving once again that small, modest projects are fertile ground for creativity and design innovation, the Casey Key Guest House was inspired by the client’s love of the local landscape and by the shape of the abundant wind-blown oaks in the area.

Because the site is located in a flood zone on a barrier island along Sarasota Bay and features a grove of mature live oaks, the owners requested that the small waterside guesthouse be placed among the trees and stipulated that the existing trees and vegetation be preserved.

So the team set the house on a special steel piling foundation system that avoids root disturbance, and situated and organized it so as to provide some privacy from a neighboring property to the north.

Merit Award

Category Custom home, less than 3,500 square feet
Entrant/Architect TOTeMS Architecture, Sarasota, Fla.
Builder Michael K. Walker & Associates, Sarasota
Interior designer Studio Hive, Minneapolis
Landscape architect John Wheeler Landscape, Sarasota

The project consists of a small building with a bedroom, bath, living area, kitchenette, and loft. The space is highlighted by curved glulam beams that suggest the hull of a wooden boat, a nod to the surrounding aquatic locale. These members circle almost the entire home, blurring the distinction between the walls and the roof and creating soaring spaces inside. Standing-seam metal roofing and cypress shiplap siding create a durable shell.