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Decker firm’s Oak Ridge House wins AIA’s top custom home design award

03 oak ridge timothy hursley_4CBy TED CARTER

You won’t mistake Jackson architect Roy Decker’s home for the Little House on the Prairie. But you’d be correct if you saw the Jackson house as the finest example of one/two family custom housing in the nation for 2016.

The 3,750-square-foot Oak Ridge House in Fondren, designed by Roy and Anne Marie Decker and their firm Duvall Decker Architects, won the 2016 National Housing Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award will be formally presented at the AIA’s national convention in Philadelphia on May 20.

05 oak ridge timothy hursley_4CThe AIA Housing Awards program is a national peer-reviewed competition the association established to recognize the best in housing and promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life. The AIA selected 10 projects in three categories, with the Oak Ridge House being selected for the category of One/Two Family Custom Housing.

The jury, consisting of highly regarded professionals from around the country, called the project an “understated, well designed home,” and remarked on the designers’ use of the natural materials slate and pecan.

Only a handful of Mississippi architectural projects have won the AIA award in the past 20 years, the most recent being Albert and Associates of Hattiesburg in 2010 for the restoration of Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis home in Biloxi. Other winners include the late Samuel “Sambo” Mockee for the Cook House in Oxford in 1994 and Walter Chatham’s restoration of the Delta and Pineland Co.’s guest house in Scott in 1997 and Picayune’s Pinecote Pavilion by Fay Jones and Associates in 1990.

02 oak ridge timothy hursley_4CDecker and his family have lived in the Oak Ridge House since its completion four years ago. “It fits very well” in its post-World War II neighborhood near James Street off Old Canton Road, where a mix of modern and traditional homes line a street lush with mature oaks, evergreen trees and flowering plants, Decker said.

The Oak Ridge House is a composition of intertwined volumes, shapes and spaces, Decker said, citing the home’s friendly and welcoming spaces.

For Decker, the Oak Ridge House was an experiment “to build a good modern home” and one shaped to “draw the outdoors in, lure the family out, and provide an environmentally rich palette of spaces to accommodate the process of habitation.”

The design, Decker said, puts an emphasis on connections between the inside and outside, with large windows in front and even larger ones in back. “When you open the blinds it feels like you’re standing in a courtyard,” he said, and noted the openness allows someone to sit in the living room and see the backyard trees along a ridge from the base to the sky. Seeing sunsets from the living room is a special treat as well, he said.

Exterior walls are made of slate shingles and the roof of standing seam zinc metal. “It is very energy efficient,” Decker said, adding the water heater runs on solar energy.

The slate shingles for the outside walls cost more than traditional brick but the labor involved is less expensive, according to Decker.

The design took into account the shifting clays of the region by putting the house’s foundation on underground pilings situated above the expansive clay, according to Decker.

Decker and his firm are applying some of the same design elements to a pair of projects it has under way, including 32 affordable housing units in Greenville that the Greater Greenville Housing and Revitalization Association will build. “We are using particularly the energy saving strategies and construction economy strategies” used in the Oak Ridge House design, Decker said.

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About Ted Carter

One comment

  1. This is a gorgeous house – so proud that it’s in our state.

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