This waterfront lot in Sarasota, Fla., might seem like a dream site—near the water, with incredible sunsets—but it also comes with substantial constraints. These include strict FEMA requirements for a ground-floor level raised 6 feet above grade and designed to building code specifications to withstand 160 mph wind loads. Local firm DSDG Architects also had to solve a geometry problem posed by its client, which involved turning the house toward preferred views and away from neighbors.
The narrow lot runs northeast to southwest, with the Intracoastal Waterway at the site’s southern edge. The client’s desired view was directly south, leading DSDG principal Mark Sultana to create two volumes: the main living spaces, which are rotated to face due south, and a separate service wing that follows the lot line. On the first floor, a great room combines kitchen, dining, and sitting rooms and opens to an expansive outdoor patio and a pool overlooking the water. On the floor above, two bedrooms and the master bath share the same views and another outdoor terrace.
Much of the home’s openness comes from the use of floor-to-ceiling glazing, especially the large operable sliding glass doors that open out onto the patios. The WinDor doors are all 4 feet wide, but the units are 12 feet tall on the first floor and 10 feet tall on the second—a scale that stretched the manufacturer to new limits. “I pushed them to give me bigger sizes,” Sultana says. These large units, combined with 11/16-inch-thick impact-resistant insulated glazing, give each operable leaf a weight of 490 pounds but they slide open and shut easily, he says.
But while the rooms look light and airy, the home’s structure is a sturdy combination of concrete and concrete block construction, covered with sand-finished stucco. A durable terrazzo floor on the ground level is enhanced with an aggregate featuring mother of pearl, clear, and blue glass—a detail that helps distinguish the house—and warmer-toned wood is used in the bedrooms. “A lot of modern home interiors are cold,” Sultana says. “They’re great for hanging art, but they’re not places to put your feet up.” In Casa Pocatello, creature comforts work in a modern setting, while still providing protection from the whims of Mother Nature outside.