Michelle Kaufmann

March 29, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Posted in designers | 2 Comments
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Michelle Kaufmann, AIA, LEED® AP, Designer, Architect, Advocate says that good design embodies, inspires and nurtures that way of thinking and living. (She is the architect for The Smart Home.)

I am back from spring break and I think I need a break from my break! My family spent some time in Chicago and one of the things we did was go to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

The exhibit I was most looking forward to was the The Smart Home: Green + Wired that reopened in March. This exhibit was originally only going to be there one year and then they were going to sell the house but because the market crashed they decided to hold onto the exhibit a little bit longer.

The home was designed by Michelle Kaufmann Designs and built by All American Homes. During its 75th Anniversary year, the Museum of Science and Industry has created this functioning, three-story modular and sustainable green home in its own backyard to showcase the ways, big and small, that people can make eco-friendly living a part of their lives.

Sloan was very excited to be picked as the guide’s helper and answered many of his questions and made sure all the lights and doors were turned off and closed as the group went through the exhibit.

This is the first time that a museum has built a fully functioning exhibit home of this kind on its grounds. In addition to that designation, after a comprehensive review of the home’s plans, materials and design in relation to the City of Chicago’s Chicago Green Homes Program, the Smart Home has also been named “Chicago’s greenest home.”

The home is really amazing and I wish we were allowed to spend a bit more time in the house. I really liked the recycled glass countertops and the recycled wine glass tiles in the bathroom. A really cool thing about the tour is the booklet you get with all the resources that were used in the house. You know me it’s all about the resources! (Resource Friday!!)

The home really incorporates “smart” technologies, with a focus on energy efficiency. A home-automation system automates heat, lighting and window coverings to reduce energy consumption. The motorized skylight in the ceiling opens when detectors sense a cool breeze (saving air conditioning) and digital electronics in the plants send voicemail when they need water. When the doorbell rings, a touchscreen reveals a wireless video feed from the front entry. What Sloan liked the best was the energy monitoring system that tracks electricity and water usage on a real-time basis, we learned the home actually makes more energy then it needs and uses the excess energy for the rest of the museum.

The interior architecture is inviting, sophisticated and family-friendly. The house is great with the use of natural light and the open spaces.
The interior includes unique furniture and accessories, including a couch covered in fabric made from recycled t-shirts, an ash wood dining table made with wood from a fallen tree, an organic mohair rug with a backing made from recycled coffee bean bags, whimsical chandeliers that recycle old colored light bulbs and mid-century dining chairs found in a resale shop.

My favorite room was the office space that just so happened to be designed for an interior designer! It was great sharing this experience with my daughter who hopes to be an architect when she grows up (I hope I can work with her!) it got her excited about green architecture and it really showed her that women can do amazing things!



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  1. So glad you’re back…missed you! WOW…this house is amazing! This is a great post…one of your best! The fact that Sloan got to participate as the guide’s helper is just perfect. I can absolutely picture her in that role!

    Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip to Chicago!

  2. We had a busy week in Chicago that’s for sure! The house was fantastic, you would of loved it Liz! And yes Sloan thought she was a superstar guide in training!

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