The Luxury Home

By Carol Tisch Photography by Matt McCourtney April 1, 2012

Warm, modern and luxurious, the new residence overlooks a natural hardwood swamp and coexists with Sarasota’s climate using principles of Florida Cracker architecture.Open House

A new dream home in Sarasota Polo Club has become the highest-rated LEED Platinum residence in the world. We asked builder Josh Wynne how that happened.

This architecture looks contemporary. What’s “Cracker” about it?

The clients wanted a design that would be at home in Florida—a house that could be open to the outdoors a big part of the year. The house is built in two sections separated by a dog trot—the same architectural feature original to Florida Cracker houses from the 1820s.

OK, what’s a dog trot?

Cracker architecture took the concept from old Native American chickee huts and improved on it. Basically, you have two separate structures under one roof with a breezeway going through the middle to grab breezes—it’s the earliest form of air conditioning. The dog trot in this house separates the primary living wing and a guest wing. It helps cool the house and lets the owners zone off power in the guest wing when it isn’t in use. 

What makes this house the homeowners’ dream home? 

They’re outdoor lovers. The house is situated on an improved hardwood swamp; the client and I worked with Sarasota County Environmental Services so we could remove invasive species and create a nice little wetland in the back yard. There are water birds, deer, hogs—it looks like a park. The husband plays on the Sarasota polo team, and the home is one of a group owned by members of the team. Their horses are kept in a stable on the property.

Hearty local cypress withstands humidity indoors and out and is a unifying design element in every room from master bath, above, to guest bedroom, below. Sustainable concrete reappears as countertops, bathroom floor insets and bedroom floor.How did you visually connect the house and setting?

The house is just over 3,000 square feet, and it’s long and shallow—only one room in depth. The entry door is centered on the peninsula at the pool, so when you walk into the great room you look straight through to the hardwood swamp outside. In the back of the house, there are 24 feet of accordion doors that open to the outside, so whether you’re standing outside the front door, inside the great room, or on the patio, you feel like you’re standing in the same space.

Why do the outdoor and indoor living spaces seem to commingle so seamlessly?

The materials are the same inside and out. The timber frame that goes all the way through the house to the outside porch and awnings is all local cypress. The flooring in the living room, foyer, front deck and the rear pool deck is all FSC-Certified tropical hardwood. And the wood is all inlaid into polished concrete, which is the flooring for the rest of the house. The interior trim is also cypress because it’s so durable. We used hearty materials because the client really did want to have the house open, and we wanted to make sure the materials could survive. All the interior walls are American clay that naturally absorbs moisture and won’t grow mold.

Why do you call this home Power Haus? Did the clients want a LEED Platinum home from the get-go?

We designed the home to exceed every standard in green construction while maintaining the clients’ requirements for aesthetics and new technology. The entire home is wired through the Elan Home Management System.  They wanted an energy-efficient home, but they never imagined it would be the highest-scoring Platinum in the world, and quite honestly, neither did I.

Gourmet kitchen appliances are set against eco-friendly cabinetry crafted by Real Woods of Sarasota using 10 different species of rough-cut scrap wood.The Home Team

Architecture and contractor

Josh Wynne>Josh Wynne Construction

Interior design

Kurt Lucas>JKL Designs, Inc.

Mechanical design and energy calculations

Dennis Stroer>Calcs Plus

Green Rater/certification

Drew Smith>Two Trails, Inc.

Landscape and hardscape design

Michael Gilkey>Michael A. Gilkey, Inc.

(941) 924-0132

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