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A Serene Escape in the Midst of Campus Madness

An amazing new Ann Arbor home grows out of a hillside overlooking Nichols Arboretum, resulting in an incredible view for the homeowners. However, while the lot and its view are beautiful, construction comes with many challenges.

Location, Location, Location

Small lot, big dreams. And…not only is the lot small, it’s also on a very steep hill with a large house above it. To make matters worse, access for construction vehicles and large deliveries is restricted by the tight lot and a very narrow street. Not an easy footprint to build a house on. So why even try?

The reason is due to the breathtaking view of the arboretum, just off the University of Michigan campus. The lot is also at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac on a dead-end street—an oasis amidst the frenzy of campus life and a busy college town.

Design Process

The design of the home was a long process. The homeowners had a vision, and our challenge was to take their vision and come up with something that would be feasible given the restraints dictated by the lot. With the owners working closely in tandem with the architect (Hopkins Burns Design Studio) and Meadowlark, their vision became a reality, with construction concluding in late 2014.
house on a hill

Hillside Construction

Building on a hillside brings its own challenges. First and foremost, before any construction could be completed, the site had to be stabilized. An existing home, perched on the hill above, hung over the construction site. In order to keep that house from sliding down the hill, twenty-foot-high vertical steel shorings had to be pounded into the hill for stabilization. From then on, a combination of concrete, steel, and LVL (laminated veneer lumber) was utilized to build a framework that would withstand all that life and nature brings.




The result is a stunning home in a one-of-a-kind setting – and only a few minutes walk from campus!

By Susan Christian

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