Reader's Choice: Lasting Impressions By Carolyn Weber and Christina B. Farnsworth

Name: Michigan Lake House

Location: Sawyer, Mich.

Year Built: 1954

Architect: Francis William Allegretti

Why it's relevant: Considering the site and natural context sets the tone and is the building block for a project.

St. Joe, Mich., architect John Allegretti always knew he'd end up in the family profession, and it all started with the vacation home he helped his architect father build.

In the early 1950s, Allegretti's parents purchased two adjoining lots in Sawyer, Mich., on a sand dune overlooking Lake Michigan. "We went every weekend and started landscaping," Allegretti says. "It was a naturalistic process of identifying the plants, birds, and wildlife, and planting trees in relation to the view."

[Photo: Courtesy John Allegretti]

His father designed the simple 30-by-40 stone cottage with post and beam construction and concrete floors, and with the help of family and friends built it in phases over three or four years. John was there every step of the way helping and taking it all in. "I was only nine years old, but it taught me everything I needed to know about architecture, construction, craftsmanship, and the environment," he says.

"Every time I go back it's like getting in touch with my beginnings," he says of the little cottage that inspired his career path. "Architecture and building was completely natural for me, there's no way I could have be-come a stockbroker," he laughs.

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