This two-story penthouse design, overlooking Lakes Mendota and Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, expanded in scope beyond the exterior walls of the 32 unit condominium building. A proposal by the architect and client to surgically alter the massing of the building envelope to create substantial exterior space was agreed to by the developer, leading to the design of a penthouse as a house in the sky with three independent outdoor living spaces. Our carved incision is registered on the silhouette of the building in both profile and surface with the warm cedar liner standing in stark contrast to the building’s masonry and glass exterior.

In addition to accommodating interior living space, including a gallery, a two-story library within an elevator shaft, and a gourmet kitchen, the project includes terraces, planting beds, and a Zen garden sculpted and integrated into the plan. Continuity between inside and outside is achieved with full-height windows, large sliding doors, and a landscaped platform that becomes a built-in bench.  

Typology Single-Family Residential
size 5,000 SF
Location Madison, WI
Status Completed
Date 2003


Architect Wilkinson Blender Architecture
Consulting Architect Farjadi Architects
Contractor R.G. Harriman
Developer McGrath Associates
Structural Engineer Graef, Anhalt, Schloemer & Associates
Lighting Consultant Gary Campbell
Landscape Architect Ken Saiki Design
Photography Helene Binet


  • ALA Design Awards Program 2006: Superior Achievement and Professional Design Excellence