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The BeNHAM HouSe The Modern Gulf Front Work of Art

at Kiva Dunes

The Sea rch Almost ten years ago, Carey and Doug Benham of Atlanta decided it was time to find the ideal waterfront location to build a beach vacation home. They were free to go anywhere. They spent a year searching up and down the Gulf Coast and elsewhere. Carey Benham remembers the decisive moment, “When we first saw the beach at Kiva Dunes in Gulf Shores, Alabama, we were mesmerized by the white sands and high dunes.” The couple hired one of America’s foremost architects with an international following, Keith Summerour of Summerour Architects & Associates in Atlanta. They knew he would create their dream escape from city life where they could relax, enjoy leisurely walks along the shore with their two dogs, and entertain friends.

A Gr e at Place T o L i ve & P lay Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines recognize Kiva Dunes Golf Course as one of the top 75 golf resorts in America. The 7,092-yard championship course meanders through the spectacular beauty of native sand dunes, lakes and wildlife areas. Kiva Dunes Golf Course has been donated to the North American Land Trust, which guarantees that it will remain open space in perpetuity. The Benhams chose their lot at the highest point in Kiva Dunes– 25 feet above sea level with an unparalleled view of the Gulf. When the architect first saw the site, it took him back to his own childhood. Keith Summerour’s family lived in Jacksonville, Alabama. His father was a wildlife artist and Summerour spent his childhood outdoors. He remembers, “When I was a youngster my family vacationed in Gulf Shores and we toured local sites. The one that always stayed in my memory was Fort Morgan, not too far from where the Benham’s beach home is now. That fortress, built in 1819, contained an arched brick tunnel covered in sand. When I saw the Benham lot, I was taken by the massive dune the home would embrace. My idea of the tunnel through the dune allowed the house entrance and car parking to be on the north side of the dune and the house and gulf view to be on the south side.”


C arved In T h e D un es The builder, Joe Noah of Noah and Associates, had to move that dune, weighing hundreds of tons, construct an intricate fifty-foot brick tunnel, put the sand dune back over it and re-plant native vegetation. “It’s a modern house with extraordinary features and building it presented unusual challenges,” Noah says. Summerour designed the Benham residence to be built into the land; unique to that spot. His architecture gives permanence and warmth to the home’s state-of-the-art, modern construction. Summerour engineered a narrow, winding drive into the vegetation to shield the site from the street. Carey Benham describes how it feels to approach the home, invisible behind the surrounding dunes. “When I’m driving and get close, I can feel all stress leaving me.” Curving down the path to the house, you drive into a circular auto court encased in native scrub oaks. The minute you set foot on the property, you are nestled in the curve of the sand dune out of which it is carved. The arched brick entry to the tunnel projects from the sand in front of you.

A Passage way Of L ight When you open the tunnel door, you enter a magical arched brick passageway beneath the sand, illuminated by soft pinpoints of light that guide you toward the crescendo of natural light coming off the Gulf and shining through the home’s majestic glass front at the tunnel’s end. In the architect’s own words, “The tunnel is a very tactile space that gives you the feeling, “Am I in yet?” You ascend a concrete stairway, past two, eight-foot high zinc sliding doors etched with abstract modernist patterns. These doors partition off guest and main living areas and dramatically mark the end of your journey to reach the heart of the home. You are now face to face with an indescribably breathtaking view of the gulf. A 54foot fresh water lap pool shimmers at your feet on the veranda. A private boardwalk leads directly to the beach and the shoreline.

Ope n & F l u id I ntimac y Gulf breezes float through the house. Warm white colors and earth tones wash across interior spaces and echo the glorious natural light. Pastel furnishings pick up sunrise and sunset hues. The open floor plan enhances a fluid sense of intimacy. The intent of the house is to be read as one space. Large openings on the north and east façade reinforce the stair landing and create points of pause within the circulation. The building’s services (baths, storage, etc.) are located along the north side of the building to provide separation from the street and allow maximum views of the Gulf. High clerestory windows lend light and ventilation to the interior and preserve privacy. The pavilion-like south façade has minimal enclosure comprised almost entirely of windows. The 5500 square foot poured-in-place concrete residence meets the highest energy efficiency standards. The foundation and sub foundation sit on concrete pilings, driven thirty feet down into the sand. Inside the home, scored concrete floors are glazed in a white epoxy finish.

C ontin u o u s H a r m on y The metallic element, zinc, traditionally thought of as a corrosion resistant coating for other metals, becomes a unifying design theme throughout the residence; from the zinc roof shingles to the first floor vent- less gas floating fireplace. You move effortlessly among three levels in a restful cocoon of serenity and sensual luxury that includes guest spaces, luxuriously appointed baths, a master suite, recreation space, study/office, third floor porch with wrap-around views, and indoor/outdoor fireplaces. All of the home’s design elements are functional, user-friendly and durable. Carey Benham detailed everything in the interior with an artist’s eye, from the customdesigned area rugs, to the ancient Jerusalem stone behind the kitchen island, to the custom furnishings. She chose significant artworks as vibrant focal points. Murano glass and Poulsen light fixtures became vessels for artfully positioned points of light.

From Dre am T o M ast er piec e Almost no one invests the energy, time and resources it took to accomplish what the Benhams did when they transformed their architectural dream into this timeless masterpiece of gulf front living that celebrates the natural beauty of the shore and holds you in its restorative calm. It took more than three years and the combined talents of a world-class architect and his team to mastermind the design and construction of this work of art built to the highest construction standards. You can scour every beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico and never find another home like this. But there’s no need. The Benhams and Keith Summerour have done it all for you.

7276 Kiva Way $2,995,000

Interested in the property? Send all inquiries to:

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Approximately. 4,880 sq. ft. 3 bedrooms/4.5 baths Gulf Front Lot approximately 2 acres Custom designed by Keith Summerour 54-foot fresh water lap pool 25 feet above sea level Private boardwalk directly to the beach

Tim McCrory 866.540.7100

866.540.7100 Trusted advisors. Gulf Shores real estate:

Benham House  

Carey and Doug Benham of Atlanta decided it was time to find the ideal waterfront location to build a beach vacation home. They were free to...