Building for Change

The winners of the 2020 AIA Maine Design Awards

Every year, the Maine Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Maine) honors extraordinary work by Maine-based architectural firms. The projects chosen for AIA Maine’s annual Design Awards are a mix of commercial, single-family residential, renovations and adaptive reuse, and small projects (with budgets under $250,000). The sole judging criterion is design excellence. The work can be located anywhere in the world but must be designed after 2013 by a registered AIA Maine architect or a current Maine architecture student and cannot have been honored in years past. For the first time, this year AIA Maine asked that all submitters reveal how their project incorporates three out of ten measures based on the ethos of the Framework for Design Excellence, a tool developed by the AIA National to help transform the day-to-day practice of architects to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment. The ten measures include design for integration, for equitable communities, for ecology, for water, for economy, for energy, for wellness, for resources, for change, and for discovery. “It is important that AIA Maine helps make sure architecture evolves and meets the climate crisis,” says executive director Jeannette Schram.

The Design Awards program commences with the committee’s search for a jury of out-of-state peers suited to judge designs in light of Maine’s unique geography and history. This year the Wisconsin-based jury—led by Allen Washatko, a principal at the Kubala Washatko Architects (TKWA); David Black, principal at Flad Architects; Jim Shields, principal at HGA; John Vetter, principal at Vetter Architects; Nick Carnahan, principal at Galbraith Carnahan Architects (GCA); and Ursula Twombly, formerly a principal at Continuum Architects and Planners—deliberated over a total of 63 submissions before awarding 14 Maine architecture firms. “We received a lot of great feedback from the jury this year, and they were impressed by the strength of the projects coming out of our state,” reveals Schram.

Beyond just celebrating beautiful forms, these awards recognize designs that positively impact the environment, society as a whole, and the economy. Maine Home+Design is honored to present the winners of the 2020 AIA Maine Design Awards.


Parris Terraces, Portland
Kaplan Thompson Architects
Project Architect: Jesse Thompson, Kaplan Thompson Architects
Project Team: Adam Wallace, Ben Bailey
General Contractor: Hebert Construction
Consultant Team: Structural Integrity Consulting Engineers, Ransom Consulting
Photographer: Trent Bell

From the Jury: Parris Terraces is a striking project and was a favorite among the judges. Its simple and restrained forms are complemented by the subtle treatment of the siding and the careful arrangement of fenestration. We were equally impressed that such quality workforce housing could be delivered without subsidy.

Parris Terraces was designed to create compact but light-filled city apartments for people making up to 120 percent of median income, in a location that has been home to industrial and municipal uses for decades but where workforce housing is hard to come by. When the city of Portland created a competitive request for propsal asking for buildable housing, Kaplan Thompson Architects entered the competition and was selected to build workforce housing apartments with no state or federal subsidy. Sustainable features include air-sealing methods for the building envelope, wood framing, heat pumps, and an on-site stormwater filtering system.

The architects applied Passive House techniques, including detailed advanced air-sealing methods and a fully thermally broken building enclosure. With residents’ health in mind, twenty-four-hour fresh-air ventilation systems were installed with heat recovery, cold climate air-source heat pumps, and advanced air sealing to optimize a cost-effective system requiring no fossil fuels to heat or cool. The project has a predicted overall energy use of 50 percent of a typical apartment building, all without renewable energy systems. The entire building uses low-embodied-energy, carbon-sequestering materials. The wood-framed building has dense-packed cellulose insulation, and there is only one piece of structural steel in the whole project. The siding on the ground floor is Maine white cedar. The firm avoided high-embodied carbon products like spray foams, steel, concrete, and aluminum as much as possible. All interior materials are similarly low emitting and without toxins of concern.

Since the building was constructed on the site of a former parking lot near Back Cove, the site was labeled by the EPA as an “area of concern.” A system was designed to treat the stormwater from the building on-site through a stormwater rain garden. Water from the roof and graded parking lot is funneled through a series of weathering steel weirs, filled with a variety of soil types and planted with native plants, which receive all the storm water from the roof and lot so that it is treated prior to entering the public water stream.

The building brings 23 units to the market. They are designed to be as efficient as possible, many within a 430-square-foot footprint. Balconies provide access to the outdoors and a slightly enlarged footprint for the warmer months. Tall ceilings with windows that travel the height of the wall (along with lofts in the fourth-floor apartments) create a feeling of spaciousness. Half of the parking lot for the building tucks in beneath an overhang.

Wescustogo Hall & North Yarmouth Community Center, North Yarmouth
Barrett Made
Project Architect: 
Matthew Ahlberg, Barrett Made
General Contractor: Rob Barrett, Barrett Made
Engineers: Casco Bay Engineering (structural), Ripcord Engineering (mechanical & plumbing)
Photovoltaics/Sustainability: ReVision Energy
Photographer: Erin Little

From the Jury: One juror summed up our amazement about this project succinctly: “They took THAT and made a building out of it!” The fact that the building was the only net-positive project among the competition was also noteworthy and in keeping with the spirit of doing a lot with a little.

The design for the Wescustogo Hall and North Yarmouth Community Center called for a 20,000-square-foot net-positive community center for the town of North Yarmouth. The structure provides flexible civic, social, creative, and athletic space for the growing community.

The building consists of both a new and a renovated space; the latter was a dilapidated former school building unused since 2014. The design intent for both the exterior and interior of the building was to employ elements reflecting the historically rural context and scale of the site while including elements and finishes with a clean and minimalist feel that would appeal to the community’s younger families. The additions were sited to optimize solar orientation while allowing much of the parking to be concealed from the road-facing elevation. As a gesture to the community, the window sizes on the south-facing facade were chosen to allow passersby the opportunity to view the varied activities in the facility, enhancing visual community engagement.

The program elements consist of a multipurpose meeting space that can hold up to 300 occupants and be subdivided to accommodate a variety of uses (town hall meetings, voting, ballet classes, troop meetings, etc.). The adjacent lobby was conceived as a hub for informal gatherings, creating a separation of the gym and meeting areas for multiple simultaneous uses. The hallway was opened up via interior windows to allow parents and others to watch gym activity and can also double as a community gallery space. The backstage areas were retained for their functional value for small community theater performances, and the area beyond serves as a “community room” for group meetings and includes a public book share.

The building was designed to operate at net-positive efficiency via a large roof-mounted solar array. The energy generated by the array offsets all heating, cooling, and electrical loads the building requires while offsetting loads of other municipal buildings including the town hall and fire station. Additionally, the building envelope integrates high R-values and triple-glazed windows along with heat pump–based heating and cooling throughout.

The reuse of an existing dilapidated public school facility lowered the overall cost per square foot to $200. The building was mindfully sited to allow for future municipal development to easily tie into the existing infrastructure and share existing parking and site access. The design team worked closely with the local fire chief and other project stakeholders to ensure the facility can be used as an emergency shelter when needed (a resource that was not previously available to the community).

Sustainable practices and long-term energy modeling were key to the successful approval of this project, providing a valuable lesson on where to focus public outreach and presentation efforts. In a town where little to no municipal/commercial construction has occurred, leveraging the cost savings that the PV integration represented in terms of long-term dollars and cents was key to bolstering public support.

Lumber Products Office Building, Casco
Scott Simons Architects
Project Architect: Ryan Kanteres, Scott Simons Architects
Project Team: Scott Simons, Adam Wiles-Rosell
General Contractor: Zachau Construction
Structural Engineer: Chris Williams, Thornton Thomasetti
Photographer: Ryan Bent

From the Jury: This project was compelling in that it utilized the products of the company to showcase the potential of wood. The sequence of ascending the monumental wood stair to the light-filled central atrium is magical.

Scott Simons Architects was given the charge of designing the headquarters of a seventh-generation Maine lumber company with a longstanding commitment and responsibility to the natural resource economy of Maine. The ethos of the project was to create a modern workspace that supports collaboration while responding to the ecological and economic context. Using vernacular forms, the project incorporates transparency and meaningful outdoor spaces to bridge the connection between the adjacent timberlands and bustling lumber mill.

The structure is located on the edge of woodlands along Dexter Brook and was completed in 2018. The two-story 8,700-square-foot building was designed to accommodate up to 23 employees and highlight the connection between the expanses of timberlands and the adjacent retail lumberyard as well as the bustling white pine mill. The client’s family’s long history in Casco shaped the project and inspired the vernacular forms consistent with the industrial setting. The building incorporates transparency and meaningful outdoor spaces to develop a warm, welcoming, and flexible interior. Building materials were directly furnished by the client, who also acted as a partner to the contractor, allowing them to build for under $205 per square foot.

The unique site is meant to be present throughout the building, with a variety of quiet break and meeting spaces overlooking the backwoods and a large conference room overlooking mill activities. The building takes a conscientious approach to daylighting, using a band of clerestory windows to bring daylight deep into the core of the workspaces. The character of the building is developed around the use of locally sourced materials and clean modern detailing, aiming to be at once innovative yet familiar.

The team prioritized the use of local resources: the building highlights wood products from Hancock Lumber and other local Maine companies. The structure’s energy performance was also considered through the lens of local resources. Outperforming requirements, the first year’s utilities records bear out an energy use intensity (EUI) that surpasses baseline specifications by more than 25 percent. Inspired by the large drying kilns at the mill that are fueled with wood residuals from the milling process, the mechanical system was designed around the use of locally sourced wood pellets in an effort to keep connected to the local wood products economy. A measured approach to daylighting, biophilic design, and thermal comfort were fundamental to the design. All employees have access to operable windows and a variety of flexible options for formal, informal, and more focused working spaces.

The Aviary—Staff Housing for the Wavus Camp for Girls, Jefferson
44° North Architects
Project Architect: Tor Glendinning, 44° North Architects
Project Team: Tor Glendinning, Jennifer Wais
General Contractor: Bruce Laukka, Inc.
Engineers: Lincoln Haney (structural), Gartley & Dorsky Engineering & Surveying
Photographer: Carl Frank

From the Jury: In addition to the symphony of wood used on the project, the most interesting aspect was the framework for community that the project created. The spaces between and around the buildings are varied and delightful.

The Wavus Camp for Girls is a summer camp located on the west shore at the northern end of Damariscotta Lake. Founded in 1922, the campus incorporates several features that needed to remain undisturbed, including water access, open fields, outdoor chapels, nature trails, meeting and dining halls, bunkhouses, and staff accommodations. The site for the new staff housing was originally occupied by an assortment of five small cabins that housed up to four counselors in each cabin.

The owner approached 44° North Architects to design replacement cabins that would connect to each other in some way, either as one building or in design. It was also important to the client that the building respond to the history of its particular place on the campus as well as the cabins it was replacing. The new building needed to be of a scale that would not be imposing on the campus, and most important, the new housing had to be “fun” and have a “campy” feel. It was also important that the new structures accommodate different staff lifestyles. While there might be a married couple in one unit, another might need to accommodate a pair of college students.

Three structures were designed by the architects using locally sourced woods and connected by a meandering deck, allowing the staff residents to feel connected to each other while offering three distinct places to nest. The housing was scaled to mingle with the other structures on the campus. Over time, as they age and the siding and deck materials gain patina in the sun and rain, the buildings will become part of the fabric of the camp. One of the major issues with the original cabins was accessibility, so one of the three structures was designed to be fully accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.



80 Exchange, Portland
Project Architect:
Chris Briley, Briburn
Project Team: Chris Briley, Ian Parlin & Lucas Greco
General Contractor: Warren Construction Group
Engineers: L&L Structural Engineering (structural), Ripcord Engineering (mechanical & plumbing)
Photographer: Irvin Serrano

From the Jury: This historic rehabilitation preserved a gorgeous facade on the exterior and created a striking, modern office on the interior. Both aspects of the project were award worthy. Of particular note in the interior was the detail of how the linear light fixtures slide out of the wood ceiling to engage the gypsum ceiling around the perimeter.

80 Exchange’s owners commissioned the design team to transform a historic Jose Block building that has long been a part of the Old Port’s character but that has been negatively modified over the past decades, to a building that embraces the past while integrating modern design and technologies. They wanted to give the structure new life for decades to come while also enhancing the streetscape and community. This meant a historic renovation of the building while converting the class “C/B” office spaces of the top three floors into efficient, comfortable, beautiful class A spaces.

The first phase of the renovation included restoring the exterior facade of the building, removing the historically inappropriate aluminum storefronts and replacing them with wood-paneled entrances. The ornate cast-iron pilasters and window entablatures were restored, and the windows were replaced with new historically appropriate windows. These changes, combined with the new exterior lighting, completed the integrity of the streetscape experience.

The entrance and lobby were renovated to create a more welcome and modern tone. A new dormer was added to the south roof, allowing the fourth floor to be expanded and filled with light. The building’s structure was reinforced and the floors leveled; new finishes were installed throughout, with integrated energy-efficient lighting. The height of the third-floor ceiling was raised from the existing eight-foot acoustic ceiling to a new wood and drywall 14-foot ceiling. Partitions were removed and historic masonry walls opened, creating a more open and dramatic space. The elevator, stairs, and railings were renovated and brought up to code. LED lighting in railings, walls, and ceilings, combined with accents of wood and stainless steel, warmed and modernized the circulation spaces.

Interior stud walls and mineral-wool insulation were added to the exterior masonry walls, increasing their thermal resistance. The roof received a flash-and-batt system of closed-cell spray foam and dense-packed cellulose for a minimum of R-50. Old windows of varying performance were replaced with modern double-hungs (for historic appropriateness). Thanks to modern air-sealing methods, the thermal envelope of the structure was vastly improved.

A mechanical mezzanine was added over the bathrooms of the third floor to house a highly sophisticated and efficient chilled beam system to provide high-level comfort and combined cooling and ventilation. The existing boilers remained, although upgraded, but the entire hydronic distribution system was reworked with modern radiant panels and thermostatic controls. Even with a substantially increased occupancy, the building’s EUI has been decreased by more that 50 percent, and the occupants’ comfort has vastly improved.

The trompe l’oeil mural on the wall that faces the park was deteriorating, and the wall beneath it was in need of restoration. The wall was restored, and a commission was established to seek public submissions for a new mural, which was installed after renovations were complete. At a community level, this building with its vibrant mural on one side and historic facade on the other provides the public with a fun blend of modern and historic art and architecture.

Sortwell Chandlery, Shepscot River
Whitten Architects
Project Architect: 
Will Fellis, Whitten Architects
Project Team: Will Fellis, Rob Whitten
General Contractor: Pearson Construction
Engineers: Albert Putnam Associates (structural), Walsh Engineering Associates (site & civil)
Landscape Designer: Soren deNiord Design Studio
Photographer: Trent Bell

From the Jury: The Sortwell Chandlery is a truly admirable effort to save an endangered structure. We commend the architect on the heroic measures taken to save the building, with the subtle and surgical ways that it was altered to serve the family for the next 200 years.

The historic Sortwell Chandlery has been a family retreat since the early 1900s, used as an open-plan, informal coastal cottage. Rising sea levels triggered a full-scale relocation, renovation, and addition, which was mindfully developed to retain the existing character and materials of the waterside structure while meeting the ongoing needs for the family for the next century and beyond.

Whitten Architects was hired by the owners with a design goal of maintaining the character of the original chandlery while rebuilding the structure to meet the new flood plain requirements. They also requested a new kitchen and bathrooms, heating, insulation, new stairs, a screened porch, an upgraded electrical system, and the ability to extend the residents’ season from early spring into late fall.

It was historically important to keep the structure near the water, so the design team worked closely with the local historical society, planning board, and the Department of Environmental Protection to lift, reposition, and design a compatible addition to the chandlery. The structure was raised three feet and moved back from the river’s edge to mitigate moisture issues that were previously present. The shed roof–style addition springs from the eaves of the old structure, adding an entry porch, small mudroom, new stairs, full bath, laundry, and mechanical space. A screened porch was carved from the interior’s southeast corner to let in sunlight and to access downriver views. New windows and French doors open to the river, and a new light well brightens the living, dining, and kitchen space. The owners’ suite, study, and private entry look upriver, proximate to the existing dock and pier.

Original structural timbers were retained and supplemented with a new structural grid of rough-sawn posts and beams, creating a dialogue between old and new. New concrete footings were designed to accommodate coastal flooding and resist uplift. The original floors were reinstalled and insulated, and nineteenth-century boards were resourced for stairs and interior trim. Old trade counters, bases, and cash till of the chandlery have been incorporated into the new kitchen.

The team strove to reuse as many original materials as possible. This included bracing the existing exterior shell framing from the interior to keep the profile and shape intact. Existing cabinetry and countertops were reused. Care was taken to remove the existing flooring and clean, gently sand, and refinish it before putting it back. There was an effort by all to select materials that would have been available to the original builders of the chandlery.

CHA Architecture
Project Architect: Ann Fontaine-Fisher, CHA Architecture
Project Team: Ann Fontaine-Fisher, Pamela Anderson & Dylan Lawton
General Contractor: Hebert Construction
Consultant Team: Structural Integrity, Ransom Consulting
Photographer: Blind Dog Photography

From the Jury: This clinic struck a serene and zen-like note in the interior. The focus on views and daylighting for the offices and patient rooms was commendable and demonstrated a respect for patients.

A boutique clinical practice with spa and clinical plastic surgery services called for an elegant yet functional space that would radiate warmth, sophistication, and therapeutic confidence. Designers created an interior aesthetic that marries modern elegance with industrial touches while focusing on efficient movement of patients and staff throughout the practice.

Maine Plastic Surgery worked with CHA Architecture to design a boutique medical practice space that balances the client’s desire for a high-end aesthetic with the functional demands of a clinically based business. The organization of the client’s program became the main driver for the layout of the space, which was clearly divided into three contiguous sections. From the third-floor elevator lobby there are two patient entry points at opposite ends that separate and distinguish the consultation/spa functions of the practice from the clinical procedure functions. An unmarked staff entry is tucked between the two, providing the backstage office and support functions for staff to efficiently access both sides. The need for privacy and discretion influenced the layout and patient flow throughout the facility.

The selection of natural materials for the interior reflects the architect’s desire to imbue Maine’s natural beauty into this place of healing, all the while embracing sustainable design methods. A rich mix of sharply contrasting interior finishes include blackened steel, white quartz, patterned glass, and reclaimed barn wood inspired by Maine’s rocky coast. Finishes for clinical areas were appropriately selected for their infection prevention properties while maintaining a sense of warmth and adherence to the overall palette. High ceilings, oversized doors, and decorative lighting enhance the feeling of elegance. This luxury aesthetic rooted in nature is complemented by large operable windows that flood the space with natural light and provide occupants with expansive, and in some places panoramic, views of the nearby Stroudwater Marsh and Fore River. While the original building utilized a wood frame, the renovation used steel to fortify the existing structure with limited impact to the surrounding environment.



In the Dunes, Moody Beach, Wells
Caleb Johnson Studio
Project Architect: 
Caleb Johnson, Caleb Johnson Studio
Project Team: Caleb Johnson, David Duncan Morris & Darrel Gabriel Bridges
Builder & General Contractor: Chase Construction
Millwork: The Webhannet Company
Energy Consulting/Solar: ReVision Energy
Landscape Architect: Richardson & Associates
Landscape Installation: Salmon Falls Nursery & Landscaping
Lighting: Greg Day Lighting
Metalwork: White Knuckle Kustoms
Window Supplier: Pinnacle Window Solutions
Photographer: Trent Bell

From the Jury: In the Dunes embraces its site through the careful selection of colors and materials. Typically, when the primary floor of a home is raised above the ground level, the entry space is often dark and uninviting. However, this project handles that issue with gracefulness. In fact, the transition from the ground level up to the mass of the building is one of its most delightful moments.

The design of the home was influenced by the vernacular coastal structures that can be found dotting the Maine coast. The simple materials of cedar and metal roof harmonize with the environment and will live and weather as the building ages. This single-family residence is located on a frontal dune and flood zone, so the new structure was built on piles to allow for flow-through should the property flood. The building was simplified to pure geometric forms and then manipulated and modernized to take advantage of the sea and marsh views that can be seen through corner windows from all sides of the home. The building scale was a crucial aspect of the design and was made more intimate by creating two smaller forms connected by a modern flat roof connector that contains the building’s vertical circulation. These spaces were carefully conceptualized to be an extension of the living space, offering a variety of different experiences that allow the owners to fully maximize the use of the site and building, inside and out. The home has a full solar array on the roof’s southern exposure, LED lighting for a low draw of energy, and insulation that rates way above code. An all-electric heating system is offset by the solar panels. Renewable materials with the lowest amount of embodied energy were used wherever possible.

The Far Cabin, Midcoast
Winkelman Architecture
Project Architect: 
Joanna Shaw, Winkelman Architecture
Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
Landscape Architect: Richardson & Associates
Photographer: Jeff Roberts

From the Jury: In addition to the thoughtful siting and blended integration of the building onto the site, we were impressed by the Far Cabin’s size. In just 570 square feet of shelter, the project achieves all the “architecture” of its much larger residential competitors.

The Far Cabin is designed to capture natural light patterns sweeping through the space, reflecting the playful relationship between nature and structure. Weathering beams spring from the rising ledge, gently carrying the cabin over boulders and mossy terrain.

Respecting the site was Winkelman Architecture’s first priority. The structure is perched on a ledge, anchored to the site on one end and soaring southward to capture summer breezes within a treehouse-like screened porch. Where topography rises, a series of thoughtfully placed board-formed concrete piers tether the building to the ledge below, allowing the terrain to flow through. The materiality of this building is essential to its character. The firm sourced regionally harvested lumber to frame the roof, positively driving cost and carbon footprint. The selected palette of materials embraces raw textures, and the natural weathering steel cladding visually darkens and recedes into the forest with time. The canopy of hemlock rafters is concealed from bird’s-eye view by a vegetated roof, reintegrating native vegetation in the footprint of impact. The cantilevered structure respects the existing terrain; untouched boulders and native mosses thrive below. The cabin’s piers were selectively located between trees, preserving roots and vegetation tight to the building’s perimeter.

The plan carves out spaces for sleeping, reading, writing, preparing food, and bathing (both indoors and out). The 420-square-foot interior space opens to a 150-square-foot screened porch. In the summer a family of four sleeps comfortably within spaces veiled by segmented walls; children sleep cozily on the window cushion and in the screened porch. The goal is to live minimally with places to sleep and bathe, and the ability to cook outside over a fire and to live in the space connected to the land.

The architect’s desire to be respectful to the site defined the types of utilities that would be available, including seasonal water. In the winter, the space can be warmed with a wood stove. The concrete-slab floor captures warmth from the wood-burning stove on cool nights and holds a cozy temperature until the morning hours. With a nearby well for fresh water but no running winter-water, the ritual of collecting water and living in seclusion has been truly embraced.

Elliott + Elliott Architecture
House on the Thorofare, Stonington
Project Architect: JT Loomis, Elliott + Elliott Architecture
Project Team: Matt Elliott, JT Loomis, Buzzy Cyr, Maggie Kirsch & Elise Schelhase
General Contractor: Jon D. Woodward & Sons
Structural Engineer: Becker Structural Engineers
Lighting: Peter Knuppel Lighting Design
Landscape Architect: Richardson & Associates
Photographer: Trent Bell

From the Jury: This was a mutually loved project by the jury. “Wow, that is a nice project” was the first comment uttered. Of particular note is the manner in which the imposing size of the project was broken up on the site, creating a strong connection to the sea. The clarity of the plan jumps off the page at you, and the material choices of the exterior help to synthesize the building with its setting.

The genesis of this home stemmed from a desire to understand and work within the context of site conditions and constraints, both externally applied and self-imposed. There were setbacks and view easements driven by local ordinances, a beautifully cross-grained terrain, and site textures: meadow, woods, and ledge. When the owners purchased the property, there was an arrangement of old buildings that bridged the site in a very intriguing way. This was something the owners and the design team wanted to refine and amplify. It also supported the ability to build largely on the already disturbed area of the farmhouse. One end of the new structure tucks into the edge of the woods, creating a secluded feel in the more private parts of the house. In contrast, the main public spaces cantilever into the view and open out adjacent to the exposed granite ledge below; the volumes are knit into the landscape by the granite-block site walls and gardens. A bridged connection leads away from the main living space to the high point of the exposed ledge by way of a long deck, the elevation of which was kept to a minimum for the owner who has ambulatory challenges, allowing him to access a dramatic part of the site that would otherwise be out of reach.

The home was designed to perform as a year-round residence; it is well insulated with a combination of closed-cell spray foam, dense-packed and blown-in cellulose, and rigid XPS board. Indoor air quality was addressed mechanically with an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system, and through material and finish specifications that are all low- or zero-VOC. A hydronic HVAC system employs an air-source heat pump to make hot water for use in a radiant floor with thermal mass, and to make chilled water for air-conditioning through ducted air handlers.

Building materials include FSC-certified lumber, native cedar shingles, steel roofing, and poly-ash boards. Granite blocks used for landscaping were quarried and fabricated less than a mile away from the site.

The owners are very sensitive to light, so natural light in the house needed to be carefully controlled and balanced. The windows are placed to allow light to enter from multiple directions and at different heights in the spaces, which reduces glare. The combination of manual and automated interior shades, as well as exterior fixed louvers designed to shade the glass surface during the day, mitigate cooling demands in the summer and give the owners various ways to filter light in different conditions and at different times of day.

Retreat on a Pond’s Edge
Elliott + Elliott Architecture
Project Architect:
Isaac Robbins, Elliott + Elliott Architecture
Project Team: Matt Elliott, Isaac Robbins
General Contractor: Acorn Builders of Maine
Structural Engineer: Becker Structural Engineers
Interior Designer: Stephen Peck Design Consultation
Landscape Installation: Sprague’s Nursery & Garden Center
Photographer: Trent Bell

From the Jury: The Retreat on a Pond’s Edge was compelling for the way that it delicately placed itself in the forest. A large project, this structure carefully contorted itself among trees, rocks, and views out to the pond. The project approach sequence along the boardwalk was particularly moving and likened to a Richard Serra sculpture.

After years of searching, an interior designer and his partner finally found what they were looking for: a quiet retreat at the edge of a Maine pond, far from their hectic lives in Miami.

Access to the residence is via a winding half-mile gravel road, cut through mature Maine forest that is dense at first but gradually offers glimpses of the pond ahead. The road traces a bushwhacked trail, blazed a decade ago by the owners when they were first looking at the property. The design team for this residence (a collaboration among architect, owner, and builder) drew inspiration from both the site and the path taken to get there. Mindful of their source and implications, exterior materials were chosen for their ability to blend into the wooded site. Arriving at a small parking area, the house remains hidden behind a stand of spruce. A narrow boardwalk beckons, meandering through immense fern-topped boulders: glacial patterns remind us how this rugged landscape came to be. At last, the walk-way turns and ramps up, slipping between two more boulders and revealing the house and studio, landing at a covered porch between the residence and guesthouse.

Set largely on piers, the main living spaces and owners’ bedroom hover above the forest floor, capturing framed views of the woods and pond’s edge that surround them. A small study is tucked beneath this main living space, while a second study and a suite for guests is housed in a separate building reached by a covered boardwalk. Both of these structures share access to a cantilevered screened porch.

Blackwood House, Falmouth
Kaplan Thompson Architects
Project Architect: 
Jesse Thompson, Kaplan Thompson Architects
Project Team: Sam Funari, Jesse Thompson
General Contractor: Benjamin & Company
Structural Engineer: M2 Structural Engineering
Photographer: Irvin Serrano

From the Jury: Tucked into the woods, the client wanted a low-maintenance structure that would age into the forest, where every material used was exposed in its true form. This house is modern and sleek yet rough-hewn. Fine woodworking, large, strategically placed windows, and renewables all come together in function and form.

What does a house look and feel like when it explores the human desire to have opportunity before them (prospect) while also being safe (refuge)? With a beautiful natural site to build on, the client wanted a low-maintenance structure that would age into the forest. Every material should be solid, authentic, and develop a rich patina. As for the interior, the instruction was that nothing should be coated or obscured from its authentic self. Locally sourced materials were used where possible.

The building shape itself is deceptively simple, masked by a combination of weathering steel, Viroc fiber cement board, and black-stained Maibec cedar on the exterior that creates a complex textile pattern. These exterior finishes show wear with age while effectively shielding the house from the elements. The open carport kept the design within budget and highlighted the timber-framing expertise of the builder. The balcony on the second floor encapsulates the theory the architects started from: you can sit outside, up in the trees, gazing out into the opportunity the forest holds, yet you are protected.

Like the beauty of the surrounding natural forest, this design focuses on exposed materials in their most basic form. Timber beams throughout the living areas bring the woods inside and provide structure to the rooms. Hidden storage and flowing spaces combine with large, strategically placed windows to allow the forest and natural light to take center stage. With triple-glazed windows and careful construction, the interior retains a steady temperature. Photovoltaic panels on the roof of the carport and renewable energy systems employed throughout the house make it net-zero. The house is formaldehyde free and contains no EPA chemicals of concern.



Distribution, Charlestown
Nicole Cyr, UMA Student
Nicole Cyr
Studio Professor: Paul Fowler

From the Jury: We were impressed by the thoroughness of the Distribution student project and its strength in exploring connectivity. From concept, to plan drawings, to tectonic details, it was all there. Not many students think as cohesively about a building as this project. It is both imaginative and constructible.

A medical office consisting of labs and medical office suites is designed for the waterfront of Charlestown, Massachusetts, adjacent to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. In an ever-changing world of innovation, learning, and climate, the proposed design will allow for durability, flexibility, adaptability, redundancy, and communal connections. The design acts as a distributed system where each workspace contributes to a whole yet can stand on its own. Everything is connected in a distributed system, yet each piece can function by itself in disaster. This will allow the design to be connected within the boundaries of the site and the greater community of Boston.

The project consists of two buildings, with one side raised above the 50-year expected sea-level rise and the other above the 100-year expected sea-level rise. The existing topography was emphasized and raised, creating a channel of water down Third Avenue to mitigate overflow when sea levels rise. Three steel Vierendeel truss “bridges” connect the two buildings in order to maintain functionality in disaster. Two are conditioned and one unconditioned, with each connecting to different levels. The labs and medical offices are distributed on each side and on varying levels to maintain functionality. All views from the inside extend out and through the building in selective moments to create visible connections and transparency. Spaces are connected vertically through openings, balconies, and visible steel elements.



SMRT Architects & Engineers
Project Team: Ashley Lepre, Brad Baker, Lodrys Gomez, Scott Pakulski & Philip Chaney, SMRT Architects & Engineers

From the Jury: The Flyleaf project is more than a “not yet built” project. It is an exploration that demonstrates a playfulness and inventiveness that we should all aspire to in our work. It would be a memorable experience to stumble upon one of these actually constructed in a park somewhere.

Flyleaf is a modular book-sharing structure designed to be easily deployed at sites ranging from urban to rural around the world. The structure provides protected book shelving, bike racks, and shaded seating. The goal is to encourage reading in community spaces and ensure accessibility for all. It creates space for readers of all types to pause and celebrate not only the intangible enrichment of reading but the tactile experience of paper books.

The form abstracts a paper book placed on its spine and falling open. A series of webbed and nested frames open to form an airy, shaded canopy. Users travel beneath the canopy to a central spine which houses the book exchange bookshelf on one side and bench seating on the other. Bike racks are integrated into the structure along an exterior face of the central spine. Like the act of reading a paper book itself, Flyleaf physically engages its occupants. An operable pulley system allows users to open and close the nested frames with a hand crank. In its closed position, Flyleaf provides sheltered and accessible book storage and seating through winter and inclement weather. Flyleaf’s prefabricated logic allows for a simple material palette composed almost entirely of cross-laminated timber. ETFE film as well as stainless-steel hardware support versatility, portability, and easy assembly. Photovoltaic panels integrated onto the exterior seams of the webbing power LED lights that allow reading sessions to extend into the evening.

When people happen upon Flyleaf in their local park, their town commons, or somewhere else along their path, they are invited to sit beneath the shade, breath fresh air, and enjoy the sensory experience of holding, opening, and reading a book. The values of nature, reuse, and accessibility are inherent in the conception of Flyleaf. Its open-air nature encourages users to enjoy a moment of pause—to sit comfortably within their outdoor surroundings. The book exchange extends the life of paper books and celebrates their physicality. Most important, Flyleaf provides free and universal access to the enriching power of literature. In addition to its ADA accessiblity, its simple material palette of predominantly cross-laminated timber and its easily replicable prefabricated logic make Flyleaf an option for any community, whether urban, rural, wealthy, or underserved.


UNDER $250,000

K Camp, Mount Desert Island
WMH Architects
Project Architects: William M. Hanley, Heli T. Mesiniemi, WMH Architects
General Contractor: Brian D. Shaw, Inc.
Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
Landscape Architect: Acadia Landscape & Design
Photographers: Michael Gillis, William Hanley & Adam White

From the Jury: K Camp was recognized for its significant restraint as a project. Not seeking to conquer its stunning setting, the cabin sits quietly on the footprint of the former structure and embraces its context. Contemplative and calm, it provides a simple, uncompetitive platform from which to view the water and adjacent park.

K Camp is a reconstruction and re-envisioning of a shorefront camp on Long Pond on Mount Desert Island with surrounding views of Acadia National Park. K Camp sits quietly on the shore in the footprint of a former structure, echoing the unique sense of place of the original 1920s camp.

This pre-existing nonconforming shorefront family camp responds to and respects the quiet solitude of beloved Long Pond. K Camp echoes the language of the surrounding forest through irregularity and materiality. Its scale is small and its footprint is minimal, but it maximizes experiential qualities of place. A simple design program incorporated an open living and dining/kitchen area, single bedroom and bathroom, study, and mudroom. An exterior deck and reading porch open off the bedroom. Every room is heated by a woodstove.

The original camp structure was on its last chapter of a storied life, and the family opted to replace it with a like-minded, low, quiet structure within the same shorefront footprint. Elevations are articulated with irregular lines to thread the camp into the surrounding woods. Materials are native, unfinished, and honest. Daylight is abundant. A primary concern was the proximity of the camp to the pond, so the foundation needed to be open and elevated to respond to the ebb and flow of the pond. To this end, the camp sits on a series of parallel frost walls, perpendicular to the shore, that allow the existing topography to continue uninterrupted beneath and enable the pond to encroach and retreat freely through the seasons.

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