Masters of Architecture

Fresh work from 13 of Maine’s visionary architects

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In Maine “architect” is a title hard earned and carefully used; in fact, the word is reserved under law for those who have passed the state’s seven-part licensing exam. While Maine is one of the few states that allows those with at least 11 years of professional experience alone to sit for the exam, the most typical path to becoming an architect is to graduate from an accredited program and then fulfill about three additional years of training under the guidance of a licensed architect, similar to a doctor doing a residency. Only after meeting these qualifications can one sit for the Architect Registration Exam (ARE), and only after passing that can one say he or she is an architect.

MH+D has had the privilege of covering Maine architecture for nearly nine years now. It is no secret that architects here are doing cutting-edge work, creating designs reflective of, respectful of, and responsive to our one-of-a-kind climate, history, and environment. These architects know how to choose materials that will endure the spray of salt from the sea; to design for the weight of snow on roofs; to make walls that withstand heavy winds; and to account for limited sunlight in winter. They recognize the beauty in our historic farmhouses and shingle-style homes, and they see the future in public buildings that form a handshake with their surrounding communities. Some of these lessons they learned in school, of course, but many they learned working firsthand on projects like the ones on these pages—projects that required innovative solutions, deep collaboration, willing clients, and above all, creative, conceptual thinking.

For Will Winkelman, architecture school began with abstract two- and three-dimensional studies and moved into conceptual design exercises that had nothing to do with buildings, per se, but everything to do with building the mental tools for critical thinking. Over time he learned to apply those skills to actual buildings. “For some in the program,” says Winkelman, “it was a frustrating time, as we were not yet working on anything tangibly architectural. But we were learning a scalable approach to design in general that could be applied not only to buildings but also to objects, urban environments, and so on. Those studies have proven to be a great foundation.” Kevin Browne learned about New England history at architecture school in Pennsylvania, and how to design and build within that context. “Many of the homes that form our towns and villages have been standing and functioning for more than 100 years,” he says. “The goal of our work is not necessarily to recreate these historical structures, but to build on the design of the past with modern architecture to create a new, timeless vernacular that will help to form a style for the next 100 years.”

In this year’s Architecture Listing, we present to you a baker’s dozen—13 architecture firms who are quite literally designing Maine’s future.