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by Lisa Ashmore
On a marsh off Georgia's Skidaway River, overlooking a grassy estuary, is a remarkable house. The lower level resembles a loft, where light filters through high-ceilinged rooms, and an aluminum-framed storefront makes up most of the back. At night the house glows like a stage within the frame of its cantilevered terraces.
The house, designed by Savannah College of Art and Design architecture professor Tim Woods, was not initially welcomed into its 30-year-old, neotraditional, gated community. The story of the house's design, construction, and eventual acceptance reveals how covenants and architectural review boards can influence the stylistic choices of architects and their clients.
"Moon River House," as Woods named it, is a lithe, fine-boned exemplar of 21st century modernism. In contrast, its neighbors are conservative, mostly neocolonial, reflecting styles that were well established a century or two ago.
Woods says getting his design approved was a battle in a community that doesn't care for modern. Homeowner Scott Lauretti is more phlegmatic and likens the two-year journey through design, review, and completion to a series of skirmishes.
Meet the Neighbors
"The Landings on Skidaway Island," sited on a barrier island about 12 miles (19 kilometers) southeast of Savannah, is something of a granddaddy of the gated community concept. In the 1960s, the Union Camp Paper Company decided to forego the island's pulpwood harvest and pursue residential possibilities. In 1986, the planned community won the award for excellence (large-scale residential) from the Urban Land Institute ). Today, houses often sell for more than $1 million. >>>