Designer Proactively Petitions Richmond Heights for Modern Infill

mademan, a design and craft workshop run by Nick Adams out of The Grove neighborhood posted a petition on Tuesday that caught our eye. The petition, “Richmond Heights Building Department, Let Us Build Modern!” asks for people to show support for a modern residential infill design proposed for a small residential lot on a traditional Richmond Heights parcel adjacent to the 1930s bungalows one might expect. The petition is a proactive measure meant to bring support to the city. Too often, opposition to infill by one loud voice can kill a project. Arriving with 200+ supporters in hand, letting a municipality know up front that there’s wide support for modern architecture is smart planning. Please take a moment and consider signing the petition below.

On Tuesday, the following was posted on the madmen website:

The rubicz’ are a cool young couple, transplanted here from their roots on the west coast. both followed seats in the st louis symphony orchestra to call st louis home.

Through my friends at blubrick construction we were introduced and began work to design a new home on a thin, steep, empty lot in richmond heights, a suburb just outside the city limit of st louis. the couple loves modern design but also loves the character of the neighborhood. The challenge with this project will be to blend the two… and also to get their bldg dept on board! we’ve actually started an online poll to generate support of the project in addition to the physical flyers we’ll be asking Richmond Heights residents to sign (if they like it). you can too:

Sign the Richmond Heights Building Department, Let Us Build Modern! petition.

What do you think? Is this cool? Will this work in Richmond Heights? PLEASE COMMENT!

About mademan for : Our only goal is to produce great stuff for great people. At the core is quality. We believe the relationship between the idea and the execution is what makes the difference between great and everything else. We design from the detailed perspective of the fabricator and build with the overall understanding of the architect. It makes possible the complete coordination of ideas. In this way, we don’t just produce better projects, we produce better experiences.

About Alex Ihnen

Alex is the owner and editor of He earned a B.A. in Journalism and Masters in Public Affairs at Indiana University and has studied in Adelaide, Australia and Perugia, Italy. Alex can be found on Twitter @alexihnen and reached at
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  • Jen

    I know this is old news but we live just a couple of houses down and we are thrilled by this structure and the acceptance that led to its construction. When the land was first purchased, we were a little confused and curious on what the new owners could do with the plot, which was narrow and way too small for the kind of houses that surrounded it. I am glad they found an interesting and aesthetic solution to the problem. Welcome to the neighborhood :)

  • Architectural Elements

    Kudos to Nick on the design and to the owners for doing something new.

    Love how commenters diss on the garage, but don’t bother to ask first if it was plausible. It isn’t, so drop it.
    Permeable pavers would be an option for the drive.

  • Adam

    on aesthetics, i don’t really think an owner should be beholden to their neighbors for permission. and with the exception of the front-facing garage and driveway i think the design is fantastic. however, given the slope of the lot a rear-entry connected garage isn’t practical, and i feel like the owners are entitled to one if they want it. the garage door in the design is small enough that it doesn’t jump out at you. My biggest complaint would be that the driveway is too wide, but i guess it needs to be that wide to accommodate 2 cars. let’s not forget this is Richmond Heights. it’s not going to be a walking community anytime in the near future.

    • Adam

      oh, and there’s no alley. case closed.

  • John Warren

    Front facing garages are fine as long as they aren’t at grade. Multiple examples of this exist in Old Town Clayton. I like the modern infill.

    • John Hussung

      Can you expand on this point?

  • moe

    This is suppose to be an improvement? I’m all for green, I’m all for infill…but this is the best they could come up with? Part of the joy of urban living is getting along and working with your neighbors. Did they even seek their input?
    We have a modern in-fill home in the TGS neighborhood where they placedsliding glass doors facing the street with a ‘front yard that was suppose to be natural-like forest. Fast forward 10 years…it is the eye sore of the neighborhood to many with an overgrown yard.
    But we also have many green infill homes as well….where they took the time to examine the neighborhood and blend in.
    I’m sure there are certain places in RH where this design might work, like around Concordia or onward towards WU into Clayton, but in this location….a big flop.

    • Davin Rubicz

      Owner here, I suppose it is inevitable that any unusual design will create differing opinions. So far the vast majority of feedback we have received from the neighbors (we have been going door to door showing the design) and online has been positive but it is good to hear about modern projects that have not aged well because it is something we are very concerned about. We certainly don’t plan on putting any kind of forest in our front yard. Mademan design put a lot of thought into examining the nearby homes to find elevations and exterior materials that would strike a suitable balance.

      • PRS1

        Moe’s upset it’s not wrapped in vinyl siding. Don’t mind Moe.

        • moe

          that’s cute PR. full of crap, but cute. As Davin mentions, they’ve been going to the neighbors seeking input which is a good thing. If the neighbors approve, then that’s good. My opinion doesn’t matter. But I still think it doesn’t fit. Your opinion doesn’t matter either pr…as long as the neighbors are good with it. We did the same thing when we added on to ours simply because even though we live in the house, we aren’t the ones that have to look at it.
          But many developers come in and plop stuff down with no concern as to how it blends in with the surrounding community. Some do it just for the shock value, others do it because they don’t care. And yes, sometimes, many times, it destroys the value of a neighborhood rather than build it.

          • PRS1

            just busting your chops

      • Adam

        Welcome to St. Louis, Davin!

      • Presbyterian

        Great house. Thank you!

      • moe

        A few follow-up questions if you will Davin….why are there few windows facing the street? I can understand the sides, but the face?
        Also, why no deck in the front? have you considered extending the front wrap around 3 or 4 feet to help blend in with the neighbors that do have front decks? It looks like from the start, you intend to enter and leave either through side door or garage with little socialization out front, same with back if it’s all 6-footed fenced in.
        And finally, are you going to be having skylights and/or roof deck?

  • dempster holland

    I thought garages facing the street were an absolute no-no in the new
    urbanist bible.

    • Architectural Elements

      If there’s no back alley, where do you propose to put the garage?

      • dempster holland

        Like many people do, park on the street. But I was only making
        the point that the building appears to conflict with one of the
        main tenets of the new urbanism. I would note that I have driven
        through Dogtown recently, just east of Richmond Heights, and
        many of the new townhouses there, do have garages in front
        So who knows–maybe variety is the spice of life

  • Devin R

    It’s way better looking than the siding add-ons next door.

    • tpekren

      I beg to differ about the siding add-ons next door, the add on faces the alley and doesn’t destroy the original street facing design and character of that house..
      I think the Dempster brings up a very good point. I think it would look a lot better and fit the surrounding context if you get rid of the front facing garage and driveway. Understand the reason, it utilitizes or fits well with existing ground elevations. At the same time, you don’t have to make that cold walk in the morning to the back alley garage. As former St Louis resident now a West Coastie I can see the plus or practical side. But still, admit that your living in St. Louis and get rid of the front facing garage and driveway.

      • Davin Rubicz

        Unfortunately, there is no back alley so this is the only garage option.

      • Alex Ihnen

        More could/should be done to have the garage level blend in. There are examples of this all over University City, and other areas without alleys. Some homes have a driveway and garage in back, but what a waste of real estate. As far as “New Urbanism”, you’re right, and it’s one of those absolutes that make that brand of development problematic. In New Town, garages are in back and disconnected from the home, but by maybe three feet in some cases – all in the most auto-dependent location one can imagine. Anyway, examples of garages:

        • moe

          Agree that there are many options for parking underground. However one needs to take into account multi-car families. Also in the top picture, one is too easily blocked in or if just dropping stuff off, unloaded out the back and then squeezing between the car/wall can be difficult. The bottom pic speaks more of practicality and would address the questions I asked of the owner above which I will repeat here (cut/paste):
          “why are there few windows facing the street? I can understand the sides, but the face?
          Also, why no deck in the front? have you considered extending the front wrap around 3 or 4 feet to help blend in with the neighbors that do have front decks? It looks like from the start, you intend to enter and leave either through side door or garage with little socialization out front, same with back if it’s all 6-footed fenced in.”
          So if the owner would incorporate what I asked about and had it look more like your bottom picture, I think many would be more accepting.