Techbuilt homes are considered the best of the many prefab houses that were developed to help solve the post- WWII home shortage. Created by Boston area architect Carl Koch, a modernist who had studied under Gropius and Breuer, his design was a simple and inexpensive two-story bi-level house that could be built in a few days and added to when the family grew. Anitra and Jesse Gordons’ home, built in 1955, is one of the first built in Ann Arbor.
The Gordon house on Chalmers Drive sits on the crest of a gentle ridge nestled in an encircling forest setting. On one side, steps descend to a swimming pool, open to the sky; on the other, a thick growth of tall trees provides a sheltering canopy for a spacious screened-in porch. This is a perfect site for a Techbuilt house, whose modern design allowed for ample light, open interiors and a settled-in-the-earth feeling.
Techbuilt, the brainchild of architect Carl Koch, solved two problems for homebuilders—wasted space in the basement and unusable space in the attic. By sinking the foundation a half story in the ground, the basement became the first floor. The second floor then rises to the pitched roof, whose gentle incline creates the dual effect of a cathedral ceiling in the center of the room and attic eaves at the edges. Because the barn-like frame of the building carried the weight, it was easy to install the standardized pre-fabricated wall panels and windows. Once the foundation was poured, the shell of a Techbuilt house could be put up in two days.