Dragonette Townhouse

210 Ruskin Place

Trelles Cabarrocas Architects

Dragonette Townhouse

Project Description

This fee-simple townhouse is designed to provide two income sources for the owners who would live in the two story loft unit above the shop. The ground floor houses the gallery/café, originally known as Studio 210. Off of the alley and above the garage is positioned a studio rental unit. This studio was booked by the day, week or month by a steady stream of guests making incursions into the high-demand world of the vigorously growing new beach town. It would be this rental unit’s income which would give the pioneers the staying power needed to keep the gallery/café in operation long enough to establish it as a well known meeting place in the town. With the rental unit, the owners would also develop a guest list over time that would be instrumental in the development of the business plan for the launching of the Pensione, a new bed and breakfast at Rosemary Beach.

The townhouse and the Pensione would both be built by Mark Dragonette. That is, Dragonette played a central role in the construction process including the production of all wooden formworks for the cast-in-place concrete; he directed and managed all pouring and finishing of the concrete, CMU and plaster work. He worked with local shops for all of the metal work and with local carpenters for all of the timber framing at the balcony, doors and windows. He and his wife and partner Penny would go on to finish and equip the loft space to suit the commercial dimension of the building, opting for painted block and exposed concrete interior finishes. The cinder-brick chimney houses wood-burning stoves at all three floors.

The volume is a simple rectangular prism measuring 22 x 50 feet and 32 feet tall. It has one party wall. The balcony, garage and studio as well as the roof garden penthouse are forms applied to the central volume and each is distinct in its construction. This is not only a reflection of the complex and diverse program of the house, it is also a working strategy that allows for further consideration with respect to the construction phasing of each of the parts. The site fronts Ruskin Square where the generous café entrance is to be found. It also fronts an alley which crosses the square, and finally another service drive sits at the rear. The alley is the location of the second public entrance to the house, where a small covered stoop gives way to the rear of the shop, the studio and the residential unit above. The private garages are accessed from the service drive.

The house is introduced to the Ruskin Square site in the manner of the urban houses of the French Quarter in New Orleans: immediately upon the street or square and with a ground floor shop. Those houses too are often equipped with balconies and porticos added over time. This house fulfills the intention of the master plan for the square which is programmed for mixed use buildings developed to make the most of a living and working environment, with the hope that the rich arts and crafts culture of the Panhandle would find a home here in the new beach town.


Project Specifications

Trelles Cabarrocas Architects
Building Name:
Dragonette Townhouse
Preferred Name:
Dragonette Townhouse, Studio 210, 210 Ruskin
210 Ruskin Place
Code Type:
Type III – Residential and Workshop
Building Type:
Mixed Use


Trelles Cabarrocas Architects

Trelles Cabarrocas Architects


"By architecture I mean not only the visible image of the city and the sum of its different architectures, but architecture as construction, the construction of the city over time. I believe that this point of view, objectively speaking, constitutes the most comprehensive way of analyzing the city; it addresses the ultimate and definitive fact in the life of the collective, the creation of the environment in which it lives."
–Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, 1982

Luis and Jorge Trelles, along with Mari Tere Cabarrocas Trelles, Jorge’s wife, started Trelles Cabarrocas Architects in 1986 after graduating from Cornell University. Focusing on urban design and architecture, their work encompasses private residences, gardens, schools, and civic and commercial buildings. The firm has completed built works throughout Southern Florida and the Florida Panhandle. Recent works include the Fine House, a private residence on Elbow Lake in Coral Gables; Ca’ Rosa, the new residence of Jorge and Mari Trelles in Coconut Grove Florida; and Nya Ngyangu, a house and garden at Smuggler’s Cove in Key Biscayne, Florida. Currently in the works are a private residence, a church, and a campus plan along with inner city development projects for metropolitan Miami. In addition to their practice, Luis and Jorge Trelles have taught architecture design studios, drawing, building construction and building systems courses at the University of Miami, were visiting critics at Cornell University and most recently acted as visiting professors at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture


  • Cenicacelaya, Javier, editor. Trelles Cabarrocas Architects. Bilbao, Spain:
         ACAM Ediciones, 2008.

  • Trelles, Luis, compiler. Casas Internacional: Trelles Cabarrocas
    Buenos Aires, Argentina: Kliczkowski, 2008.

  • "The Pension." New Urban Living, Nov/Dec 2004.

Archive Inventory

Seaside Archives, University of Notre Dame
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Exterior Views