No. 520 . 08 June 2011 
ArchitectureWeek

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Palladio Awards 2011

by ArchitectureWeek

Hurricanes were a primary concern for Michael G. Imber Architects when the firm designed a traditionally styled home for the new Beachtown development in Galveston, Texas.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the vacation-home development combines New Urbanist architecture and planning with systematic fortification against the fierce storms.

Meeting both of those objectives, the 4,000-square-foot (370-square-meter) Beachtown House by Imber's firm — a magazine show home — emulates the delicate carpenter-gothic style of surviving turn-of-the-20th-century Galveston homes while employing contemporary engineering for hurricane resistance.

The house's living spaces are located 23.5 feet (7.2 meters) above base flood elevation. Concrete piers and concrete-plank decking were used to create a solid base to resist storm surges, disguised with traditional plaster piers and a lighter wood shuttered infill that forms blow-out walls at street level.

Steel shear walls and shear bracing provide additional structural reinforcement, and mildew-resistant materials, such as concrete siding, were used in case of submersion in a flood.

The home's mettle was tested a mere fortnight after completion, when Hurricane Ike struck in October 2009. Although other parts of Galveston suffered catastrophic damage, the Beachtown House experienced only cosmetic damage, losing its lower-level blow-out panels and garage doors to the 15-foot (4.6-meter) storm surge.   >>>

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