Fire Lane Retreat by Wheeler Kearns Architects


Lake Michigan Retreat by Wheeler Kearns Architects

WKA creates another great Lake Michigan residence with water views.
This one is a little less urban.

wka_fire-lane_08 wka_fire-lane_09 wka_fire-lane_06 wka_fire-lane_07

Michigan Beachtowns

Just about all of Michigan geography can be illustrated on the open palm of the right hand, especially if you picture that hand wearing a fat snow mitten.  (The Upper Peninsula floats off the tips of the fingers.) There’s a good illustration of this over at, which you might expect to represent Long Island or Texas or Southern California or Florida instead of southwest Michigan.

The eastern shore of south Lake Michigan arcs 200 miles north through a series of seven beach towns on a line that runs from the base of the wrist through the main joint of the little finger.  Except for the nuclear power plant, each mile looks like it might be great for a summer frolic. Which is where Fire Lane Retreat by Wheeler Kearns Architects comes into our story.

Somewhere along those 200 miles north from Indiana lies a year-round retreat for a Chicago family of six.  And a guest house.  And a pool.  And almost enough technology to take you right off the grid. Not to mention a high degrees of fit and finish. Not styled like a cottage, nor like an ultra-luxe city home dropped into a lakeside setting, Fire Lane displays WKA’s contemporary twist and wood tones that make it almost blend into the background against the trees and grasses and dunes. A true getaway place.



Fire Lane Retreat by Wheeler Kearns Architects
Mapped By

© Microsoft Bing
Bing Maps catches Fire Lane Retreat under construction in 2009.

Map Gallery:

Property Location

Southwest Michigan, USA




Fire Lane Retreat by Wheeler Kearns Architects

From the architect:

Designed as a year-round retreat for a Chicago family of six, the residence bridges a valley between two dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan in Michigan. Siting of the structure was determined in large part by constraints as set forth by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality with its intent of protecting the dunes and construction amongst them. The family’s desire was for a building which would immerse them in the landscape with expansive views of both the lake and land while inside and out. The exterior materials consisting of ipe, copper, weathering and stainless steel were selected for their longevity and low maintenance characteristics as well as their beauty. The interior is similarly durable and low maintenance with its use of pine siding; ipe, basalt and cork flooring; basalt countertops and translucent glass shower enclosures. The interior is conditioned with a geo and solar thermal heating and cooling system. Provisions have been made to accommodate a future wind turbine for power generation. The living and dining rooms are on the first floor with bedrooms and a family room on the second. A separate guest quarter is provided above the garage to the north. The boardwalk which connects the two extends south to the screen porch and beach path beyond.

Photography by Christopher Barrett