Solon House Restoration and Remodel

Champaign, Illinois


The Solon House is one of the last remaining examples of Italianate-style homes in the center of Champaign, virtually unchanged since its construction in 1865. The house was built by William C. Barrett for Abel Harwood, local merchant and landowner. In 1907 it was purchased by Francis Solon and Abbie Gunning. Their last surviving child lived in the home until 1995.  


In 1998 the City of Champaign approved Solon House for landmark designation.  The designation protected the property from demolition but could not protect the unoccupied house from the deterioration of time and weather.  Finally, in 2005 the family donated the property to the Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA).  Over the following decade PACA cleaned, repaired, and stabilized the property as they studied various options for the future of the home.  


In 2018 local businessman Christopher Knight purchased the property from PACA with the intention of keeping it as a single-family residence.  Although the exterior shell was stabilized, the interior required major renovation to repair floors, walls, and ceilings; install electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems; as well as inserting contemporary kitchen and bathroom facilities into the living spaces.  These new elements were conceptualized as “rooms within rooms,” distinguished from the original building fabric by contrasting finishes, details, and scales.  



Commissioned Project: 2018

Completed: 2021

Design Associates: David Emmons, Claire Gaspin, Andrea Melgarejo de Berry, Haas Design Works


118 West Florida Addition and Remodel

Urbana, Illinois


This project expanded a mid-century "prairie style" house on a tight corner site.  For this project, the original courtyard, converted in the 1970s into an enclosed atrium, was remodeled into a multi-use space that includes the entrance, sitting area, art studio, and stairway. A short flight of stairs connect this ground floor to the original house, a longer flight connects to the addition above the garage.


The new addition was designed to create a unique library/study for a university scholar. It expands upon the original house imagery and craft sensibility. The addition's overall form is generated from the diagonal stairway space that connects it to the main floor landing. The diagonal space ends with a skylight looking into the branching of neighborhood trees.


Commissioned Project: 2018

Completed: 2020

Design Associates: David Emmons, Claire Gaspin, Haas Design Works


House at County Roads 3400N & 500E

Fisher, Illinois





Commissioned Project: 2018-Current

Design Associate: Andrea Melgarejo de Berry


208 West Pennsylvania Addition and Remodel

Urbana, Illinois


This project expanded a 1927 mail-order house that included a 1988 kitchen addition.  For this project, the original addition was remodeled into a bathroom, music room, pantry, and washer/dryer closet.  A new kitchen and deck were constructed alongside the original addition.


The new addition was designed to seamlessly integrate with the 1988 addition.  Details were appropriated and adjusted to create a light-filled cooking center overlooking the backyard garden.  


Commissioned Project: 2017

Design Associate: Haas Design Works

Completed: 2018


[Robinson]Knight Residence, Phase One: Renovation

Urbana, Illinois


In 1974, Jack Sherman Baker, FAIA, designed this striking residence for Gertrude “GiGi” Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois.  The house features three unique units – a studio apartment and guest bedroom on the ground floor, and a large, light filled dwelling unit on the second floor.  Unfortunately, years of neglect have taken their toll on the exterior envelope and grounds.


The objective of this phase was to revitalize the exterior with new cladding, resolve structural problems, and restore and upgrade interior finishes and details.  These new elements are introduced with sensitivity for the existing design, maintaining and enhancing the concepts powerfully executed in the original design.


Commissioned Project: 2015

Renovation Completed: 2018

Design Associate: David Emmons


  • Heritage Award,  Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA) of Champaign County, 2017

  • News Feature, “Well De⎼er, Preserved.”  The News-Gazette, Champaign, March 9, 2017

  • News Feature: "Eccentric 1970s house designed by longtime U of I professor sold'" Crains Chicago Business, August 16, 2021

[Robinson]Knight Residence, Phase Two: Additions

Urbana, Illinois


The objective of this second phase is to add three unique elements to the originl composition: a reflecting pool in the entrance courtyard, a lap pool along the western edge, and a rooftop terrace and pavilion.  These new elements are introduced with sensitivity for the existing design, maintaining and enhancing the spatial and proportional concepts powerfully executed in the original residence.


Commissioned Project: 2015-17

Design Associate: David Emmons


Polygon Sculpture Studio

Hague, New York


The owners of a steep lakefront property wanted a small studio for making sculpture and accommodating guests. The form reflects these two functions. 


The studio is at the highest point of the property, along an access road that forms the western boundary.  It is at the pinnacle of the site, with tree-filtered views of Lake George, 130 steps above the water’s edge.  On the ground floor is a vertical light-filled space and service zone tucked under the loft.  The guest loft above forms its own gabled volume and pronounced deck.  The result is a series of very distinct yet interconnected spaces.


The exterior cladding references Adirondack rural vernacular and helps emphasize the spatial conception. Galvanized steel siding wraps the gables and north end.  Vertical planks of local red cedar cover the polygonal east and west sides.  The cedar is reintroduced on the interior to create a warm and aromatic environment.  


Commissioned Project: 2012

Completed: 2013

Design Associates: Workus Studio


  • Web, Dezeen design magazine, 2013
  • Merit Award for Architectural Design, AIA Central Illinois Chapter, 2014
  • Publication, WOODPLANET, April 2014
  • Publication, 150 Best Tiny Home Ideas, Harper Design, 2016
  • Web, METROPOLIS Magazine Gabled Roofs Experience a Revival Across North America, 2021 

Townsville Flats

Townsville, Queensland, Australia


The plan amplifies the stunning front and laterals views to the water, as well as rear views back to Castle Hill.  Neighboring buildings are masked from the dwelling units by angling sidewalls, allowing centrally located spaces views of the waterfront.  The structure throughout is white precast concrete.


The aesthetic is generated by maximizing and expressing the use of devices that make the building energy efficient.  Front and rear decks on all dwelling units are conceived of as virtual rooms with operable hardwood shuttering on the front and rear planes of the building, allowing maximum operable flexibility of open and closed positions.  Folding glass walls behind the shutters allow decks to be fully integrated with the adjacent living spaces.


The Penthouse features a series of interconnected small pavilions, divided by courtyards, all connected to a breezeway that runs the length of the building.  Pavilion roofs with integrated photovoltaic solar collectors are torqued to the north to maximize solar exposure.  A system of gutters and roofs channel water to storage containers located on the penthouse and entrance floor.


Commissioned Project: 2010-14

Design Associates: Workus Studio


GableAgain House

Champaign, Illinois


A well-proportioned 1957 gabled house was constructed on the north edge of a small park. While the southern view of maturing park trees visible through the glazed gable end is delightful, an owner of dubious taste in the 1970s constructed a curiously awful Mansard carbuncle-of-an-addition to its west. 


The new owner wanted to renovate the original gable house, and replace the addition. The solution was to create another gabled space, which expanded the park view. The original gabled space was updated to 21st century standards and became a spacious Kitchen; the new gabled space became a Living Area. A third gable faces the street and contains a garage and workshop. A courtyard completes the plan composition, creating a central oculus to bring light and transparency deep into the square plan. 


Commissioned Project: 2011-12

Design Associates: Workus Studio


"Rex" Retreat Cabin

Oakwood, Illinois


The site for "Rex" is an abandoned strip mine, transformed into a series of ponds, islands, and forest groves. 


The 800SF four-season open plan "cabin" takes full advantage of the picturesque water views. The ground floor features living, sleeping, washing and cooking spaces with framed views and multiple access points to the outdoor terraces.  Above is a small retreat loft with views in three directions.


The enclosure is shaped to react to its specific environment.  A series of stepped and landscaped terraces connect water to the living levels above.  Deep west eaves shade the strong afternoon sun.  The long narrow section is developed to maximize views and cross ventilation.  The natural, weathered exterior surfaces create a quiet backdrop for the activities of life.


Commissioned Project: 2010

Design Associates: Workus Studio


"Oasis" Library & Guest House

Champaign, Illinois


Oasis is located at the southernmost corner of a large wooded residential property that abuts fields of corn and soybean.  It is separated from the principal residence by Saline Creek, which flows northeast to southwest across the site.


The linear composition begins as an entry at the north edge of the creek.  An open-air pavilion marks the north end of the covered footbridge that spans the creek. The south end of the footbridge leads to a large deck, carefully shaped to avoid removing the existing trees.  


The book-lined interior spaces are shaped to create flexible areas for study, sleep, meetings, etc. These spaces are arranged linearly on a single level, perched on concrete piers above the flood plane.


Commissioned Project: 2009-11


"Serendip" House

Champaign, Illinois


This economical 3300 SF residence is shaped and sited to deflect northerly winter winds and open to the expansive view to the south. This side features a deep overhang to shade the interior in the summer. but absorb south light in the winter. Rooms are located in an east-west linear sequence to allow cross ventilation throughout and to create a series of internal zones adaptable to guests or family use. The central feature is a 17-foot high living room overlooked by two offices for the faculty clients and a bridge on the second floor. Oak is used throughout the first floor public spaces and stairs, bouncing warm light on to the surrounding walls and ceilings. The walls are painted in semi-gloss white, light and medium gray, allowing the color mood of the interior to change with the atmospheric conditions outside.


The result is a light-filled sanctuary, a refuge for both family life and professional work.


Commissioned Project: 1997

Completed: 1998

Associate Architect: Guy Hampel


A House for Robeson Meadows

Champaign, Illinois


The house is imbedded into the landscape of a typical suburban subdivision to suggest a sustainable alternative to the developers’ standard box.  The existing earth berm, used to shield the residential site from a busy road along the southern edge, was extended into the site, merging with the house form and transforming the garage form into an earthen mound.  Within the limited area of a small suburban site, landscape and architecture are integrated into a single geometric composition. 


Research Project: 1994


  • Merit Award, AIA Central Illinois Chapter, 1997.
  • Exhibition, Public Forum on Unbuilt Architecture and the Future of Design, Boston Society of Architects, 1998.


Prospect and Refuge 


Prospect and Refuge is a visual study of an isolated dwelling in a vast and sublime landscape.  It illustrates a residential site construction composed of both the landscape and the architecture on a vast plain.  The title of this drawing refers to Jay Appleton’s research into the perception of places of opportunity and safety in the landscape.   In "The Poetry of Habitat," he suggests, "… the greatest satisfaction is to be had from the panorama - that wide, sweeping prospect which takes in a vision of a great tract of territory allowing the most comprehensive scope to the eye."


Research Project:  1992


  • Winner, American Society of Architectural Perspectivists, 1993

​​Significant Structures | Urbana house's new owner, architect take designer's modernism to new heights

​​"Victor" Meditation Hut featured in calm down. recreational architecture

​​"Victor" Meditation Hut featured in Modern Butterfly Roofs on DWELL.com

Spaces of Serenity featured at AIA'19. 

From Olympians to Blind Pigs, lecture at Vallès School of Architecture, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Spain, September 25, 2018


Jeffery Poss Architect, PLLC

Jeffery S. Poss, FAIA, Principal



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