Magazine

Sleep Stay Shop

“I never thought I’d be mixing and pouring concrete,” says Taisha Coombs. “It’s not a skill I thought I had.” She never suspected she’d be refacing a hearth with plaster or assembling a glass-brick wall either. But, the 34-year- old notes, “When you’re a bit strapped for cash, you have to wear many hats.” Coombs is talking about the Kennebunk home she and her business partners—Jenny Kaplan and her husband, Chris Corrado—purchased and renovated together with the help of Chris’s brother, Paul Corrado, who owns a namesake construction company in Arundel.

Kaplan, Chris Corrado, and Coombs own Brooklyn- based creative agency An Aesthetic Pursuit (AAP), which specializes in styling and furnishing homes. Kaplan heads up the interior design aspect of AAP’s operations. Pieces is the product design arm of the busi- ness, and the home itself is a new retail concept: a shoppable hotel. In 2017 they began brainstorming about a bed-and-breakfast that could showcase the company’s unique design point of view. They would partner with brands, such as Vitra and Vancouver lighting studio ANDlight, that complement AAP’s aesthetic. Guests who fell in love with one thing or another would be able to log on to the hotel’s website and buy it online.

The project exudes the “Hey gang, let’s put on a show” pluck popularized in Hollywood by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in the 1930s and 1940s. The premise of these films was simple: there’s a time-ticking crisis, and in order to raise the necessary funds to avoid disas- ter, the town’s youth combine their talents to put on a Busby Berkeley–style musical. Of course, there are lots of unforeseen dramas along the way, but the revues triumph, and everybody’s happy.

Of course, the Pieces Home was created with far more awareness and sophistication. Location was a no-brainer. Kaplan grew up in Eliot; Chris and Paul hail from Kennebunk. (Coombs, who is the production, systems, and operations expert, is from Philadelphia.) The mid-1800s 3,000-square-foot structure, says Chris, “was a typical Maine home with a barn, which various owners had added on to over 150 years.” During Chris’s high school years, part of it also housed a general store. Not surprisingly, this provenance resulted in disjointed interior spaces. “There were weird step-ups and low ceilings, and the layout was pretty chopped up,” Chris recalls. “In a way, we were lucky to have a place that was so schizophrenic, because that meant we could do anything we wanted.”

Paul Corrado notes that, although it was a historic building, interior alterations were not restricted “as long as you had the engineering to show it would hold up and that this beam will support that span. We found a roof on top of another roof, and to get to something we could tile over, we had to go through several floors that were stacked on top of each other: a wood floor, a terra cotta tile floor, a couple layers of linoleum, and a quarter-inch under- layment.”

Other than peeling back layers, however, the team tore down only the wall between the kitchen and sitting room to improve flow and annexed some space from an upstairs bedroom to convert a tiny half bath into a full one. “We had a design concept meeting early on to determine a baseline for materials, colors, and the feel we were going for,” says Taisha. But the rest, observes Chris, “happened almost spontaneously. It was a collaboration.”

Paul, the only one who is knowledgeable about renovation, laughs. “My brother would send these drawings he termed ‘style guides.’ That’s all we had,” he remembers. “So when my guys would have a question, I’d tell them to check the style guides, which had no practical information. It became a running joke.” Naturally, the loose collaborative approach meant things changed frequently, forc- ing some improvisation.

Take the glass block wall. “We were carving out a bedroom from the great room and knew we wouldn’t have any windows in there,” explains Taisha. “Glass blocks were an obvious solution for bringing in some light.” They wanted the partial glass wall to curve more, but, Chris says, “We couldn’t source the type of block necessary to make the radius we needed.” Coombs took this on, starting where most DIYers start nowadays: with a Google search and Pinterest boards, as well as long phone conversations with suppliers about what her team wanted to achieve. Then she erected the wall herself.

“We didn’t always understand how certain things would work out,” admits Chris. The aesthetic of AAP is partial to curves, so that is how they designed the banquette in the living room’s bay window. When they arrived from New York for a site visit, they discovered it had right angles. “I asked Paul what happened, and he said, ‘Yeah. No way you were going to get those curves.’ So we had to live with it.”

That episode paled in comparison to other course corrections, however. “The biggest night- mare moment was the refrigerator,” says Chris. With construction deadlines looming, the team custom- built all the cabinetry doors (the interiors were IKEA) and countertops. Kaplan points out that they had purchased all the appliances on sale early in the process and stored them without regard to how plans might morph in their organic process. “I strapped the fridge onto a dolly and dragged it into the kitchen,” says Chris, “and realized we’d carved out a 30-inch space for a 36-inch refrigerator. I straight-out cried.” In the end, they were forced to cut down the cabine- try and counter to make the refrigerator fit.

None of which you see, of course. Instead, what visitors notice (and likely most remember after they’re gone) is color. “The Pieces collection is very colorful,” says Kaplan. “Either people love the products or not.” Even she had her doubts, though. A bespoke “Wavy” runner wends its way for over 60 feet from dining room to sitting room to living room, streaking the polished oak floors with ten long undulating stripes in zippy shades that include aqua, forest green, canary yellow, and bubble gum pink. “I was a little worried,” she allows. But, she adds, “Because it was a bold piece, I wanted the rest of the home to have a softer palette.”

Chris breaks in to qualify this statement: “When Jenny says she wants a softer palette, it might not be what many people think of as soft.” To wit: one of the four bedrooms is swathed in terra cotta, another in butter yellow, and still another in sky blue. A back hallway is taupe-pink.  The kitchen cabinets are hunter green, topped by pink countertops.

Jenny mixed Pieces items—which tend toward the blocky and graphic—with furniture from Vitra and Artek, and lamps and pendants from ANDlight and Eny Lee Parker. She dressed beds with sheets and duvets from Brooklinen, outfitted sinks with taps from Nood Company and Mirabelle, and stocked the kitchen with cookware from Great Jones. Sonos contributed audio equipment, while Uprise Art furnished most of the works on the walls. To the naked eye, it all looks vibrantly stylish yet comfortable, youthful yet sophisticated.

“I don’t feel like there’s anything we should have done another way,” says Coombs happily. However, she adds, “We’re not carpenters, so if anyone came in with a ruler…”

Mountain Majesty

They say opposites attract, so why wouldn’t the saying ring true for a person’s design sensibility? When Sarah Iselin decided to build a vacation house in Bethel, she knew she didn’t want it to be anything like her primary residence in Newton, Massachusetts, a 1905 Arts and Crafts home with elaborate details and traditional furnishings. Iselin had fallen in love with this area of Maine while on a family ski vacation a few years ago. “I heard about Sunday River ski resort and decided to rent a house nearby,” explains Iselin. “We arrived after dark, but I woke up the next day to the most extraordinary, jaw- dropping  mountain  views.  Two  weeks later, I put in an offer on the two-and-a- half-acre lot across the street from our rental.” As a busy healthcare executive whose job requires extensive travel (the pandemic aside), her goal was to create a “minimal, efficient, uncluttered, and low- maintenance house that my three teenag- ers and our friends could enjoy.”

Enter Portland-based architecture firm Caleb Johnson Studio, known for its cool, contemporary structures that are expertly integrated into the surrounding landscape. “I went to art school, and I’ve always been design oriented, so I knew that I wanted the experience of building a house one day,” explains Iselin, who, coincidentally, discovered Caleb Johnson’s work on Maine Home+Design’s website. “I approached the firm with a fairly modest scope, and they were able to deliver a design that was both clean and elegant. And although modern isn’t the predominant aesthetic in this community, the house still feels appro- priate because the rough cedar cladding is in keeping with Maine’s vernacular.” In fact, the striking eastern white cedar on the exterior is one of architect Caleb Johnson’s go-to materials. “It’s not fancy, but I use it on everything because it’s rot- resistant, locally sourced, and authentic to Maine,” says Johnson, who worked closely with Iselin as well as the firm’s Bud Angst and David Duncan Morris to conceive the 2,700-square-foot four-bedroom house. “She wanted a modern counterpoint to her historic home in Massachusetts,” says Johnson. “A structure’s design evolves through the floor plan, and for that we really leaned on Sarah to tell us exactly how she wanted the space to function.

Making the most of the mountain views, accommodating large groups, and being able to cook and entertain in a casual, laid-back way were at the top of Iselin’s list. “The house needed to allow for big ski weekends with friends, but also feel cozy when Sarah is there alone,” says Angst, the archi- tectural designer overseeing the project. With this in mind, the firm divided the residence into three zones by floor: a lower-level guest area with two bunk rooms that sleep four to six people each, the main living area that encompasses the public spaces, and a serene upper level that houses the owner’s suite (Iselin’s favorite spot because it’s the only room with views of both Mount Washington in New Hampshire and Maine’s Mount Abram), plus an additional bedroom. “We created an efficient and simple floor plan,” says Angst. “It functions just as well for 16 as it does for one.” The biggest design hurdle, according to Johnson, was the steep site, which drops off quickly from the road. (“I bought the property during the winter, and when the snow thawed, it was a whole lot steeper than I thought,” recalls Iselin.) “We normally try to avoid a three- story rear facade in favor of keeping the building tight to the landscape,” says Johnson, “but here, we had to embrace the slope and find a graceful way around it.” The solution involved a sculptural deck off the main living area that’s angled to allow natural light to flood the lower level, which has direct access to the yard.

To carry out their design, the architects worked alongside Bethel-based Clearwater Builders. “This isn’t a run-of-the-mill house,” says Clearwa- ter Builders’ founder Bruce Lilly. “Our firm normally works on more traditional mountain-style homes, so this contem- porary project was a nice change of pace. I also appreciated seeing the plan- ning process unfold, because Caleb was able to fit a lot of living space within a modest footprint. The design is practical and very well thought out. Not all archi- tects have the building knowledge and experience that Caleb does.”

Inside, the surfaces were also kept sleek and simple, with white walls and ceilings, white oak flooring and cabin- etry, limestone and porcelain tile, and raw metal accents. “Sarah prefers natu- ral, low-maintenance materials,” says Angst. “That’s actually what led us to install reclaimed-wood walls in the bunk rooms.” Architect David Duncan Morris, who serves as the director of design at Caleb Johnson Studio, helped select the interior finishes and architec- tural details in addition to working with Iselin to furnish the home. “This house is meant as a retreat from Sarah’s busy life, so we didn’t want her constantly having to clean and worry about upkeep,” says Morris. “There’s no fuss or frills, and nothing is too precious.”

However, durability doesn’t mean having to sacrifice luxury. “Sarah loves beautiful things and appreciates design,” notes Morris. “She especially likes pieces that feel handmade, and she paid care- ful attention to the tactile quality of the various objects and materials we were considering for the home.” In Iselin’s bedroom, for example, they opted for a handcrafted four-poster “that brings some romance into the space,” says Morris. It serves as a focal point on the upper floor, where whites and linens are meant to create a peaceful retreat from the rest of the house. The lower-level guest area is “comfortable and inviting, with furniture that you sink into,” he continues. Mean- while, the main floor is the most formal area, with streamlined furnishings in more colorful, dressier fabrics such as velvet, which adds texture and sheen. “We chose essential pieces that were in line with the restrained architecture,” says Morris. “The building is a beautiful study in wood and glass, and the interior should reflect and harmonize with it. In order to keep the tailored residence from feeling cold and unwelcoming, we brought in softness through the furnishings, which give a home life, comfort, and vitality.”

This simple vision—free of knick- knacks and clutter—is exactly what Iselin had envisioned. “I can easily hand a set of keys off to friends and not stress about anything,” says Iselin, who likes to share her home with loved ones even when she’s not able to join in on the fun. “I just never imagined it could be this perfect. This was meant to be a ski house, but I didn’t realize how much I would adore it during the other seasons.” And the home has become even more important to Iselin since the pandemic hit, serving as a weekend sanctuary. “The mountains are my religion,” she says. “It’s the place I go when I need to gain perspective on life. When I arrive at the property, I can feel my blood pressure drop and my heart rate slow down.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Wave

2020 ARCHITECTURE LISTING – COMMERCIAL

Atlantic Brewing Midtown

Atlantic Brewing Midtown is a new commercial venture aimed at capturing local, authentic flavor in a creative and sustainable manner. The structure is at the end of a major retail development on Cottage Street before it transitions to a more industrial zone. One of the project’s goals was to set a new direction for design on the street, perhaps acting as a catalyst for future construction to move beyond collage and pastiche. Drawing on the proportions and rooflines of its neighboring buildings, the new structure is designed to fit within the scale of the streetscape while pushing the boundaries of the architectural design in a forward direction. It is broken up into two pieces, consistent with the scale of the surrounding structures. Drawing on one of the more common street characteristics, full-height glazing at the entry level contin- ues a theme represented in most of the commercial buildings on the street. The two masses are connected in the middle with an entry and stair that takes one up to a mezzanine and roof deck above. Production and bar are on the west side, with the kitchen and dining area to the east. Glazing on two sides of the brew- pub allows views into the space beyond, including the on-site brewing operations. A small courtyard on the west side provides outdoor seating and creates further interaction with Cottage Street, another project goal. Solar panels on the south-facing shed roof offset some of the power usage of the building while a sedum green roof on the other half helps reduce runoff and heat loss. Designed as a prefabricated steel structure, the kit of parts helped reduce on-site construction time and allowed the facility to achieve functionality in time for the summer season.

Architect: Elliott Architects
Project Architect: Corey Papadopoli Builder: Wood Associates Landscape Architect: Perry N. Moore Structural Engineer: Dan McGraw Photographer: Ken Woisard
Location: Bar Harbor
Completed: 2017

 

All Saints Multi-Purpose Facility

For years St. John’s Catholic School and All Saints Parish had used the basement of the St. John the Baptist’s Church as both their dining hall and their indoor recreation space. Changes to the local building code and an increase in the use of the space from the wider congregation coalition required that they construct a new building to house these functions. After several years of fundraising, the parish asked Simons Architects to design the multi-purpose facility, which included a meeting room, a commercial kitchen, and a gymnasium that could be used as an elementary school dining hall and performance space, which would also include an Adoration Chapel, a backstage, locker rooms, bathrooms, offices, and storage rooms. The chapel, a special feature of the project, is accessed separately and open 24 hours a day for worship. This project had the unique opportunity to focus on a wide variety of scales, from the careful detailing of the monumental door and repurposed stained-glass shadow boxes in the chapel to the composition and layout of the exterior stone masonry.

The multi-purpose facility, which has recently received an AGC Maine 2020 Build Maine Award, is located on a highly visible street within a historic district in the town of Brunswick. It was designed to be a companion building to the famous St. John the Baptist’s Church on the other side of the central green space and parking lot. The design team completed extensive studies of the exterior to find a balance among scale, budget, and materials through a complex review process. One of the most impressive elements of the building is the exterior stone. Great efforts were made by Ouellet Construction to source the granite from a local quarry as well as find a color range that would complement the historic church. The two buildings frame the All Saints campus and create a welcoming entrance and relationship for the students, teachers, parishioners, and community.

Architect: Simons Architects Project
Architect: Ryan Kanteres
Project Manager: Kayla Caron
Builder: Ouellet Construction
Photographer: Ryan Bent
Location: Brunswick
Completed: 2018

 

Hospice of Southern Maine, Home Hospice Center

The design of the new Home Hospice Center blends an approachable and home-inspired setting with a therapeutic and professional atmosphere, exemplifying the trust and confidence placed in the Hospice of Southern Maine by families who are seeking quality and compassionate end-of-life care. The design stitches together four gabled peaks to create one unified structure that consolidates staff workspace with community grief counseling services (previously housed in separate locations), allowing for enhanced collaboration while respecting privacy needs. The exterior cladding and colors reflect the warmth and simplicity found in Maine’s coastal traditions, while on the interior, quilts and weavings with inviting colors and textures intend to soothe and comfort. The functional, flexible workspace layouts support Hospice’s collaborative, team-oriented approach to its mission of providing in-home care. Thoughtfully programmed adjacencies accommodate a variety of users: traveling staff who return regularly to discuss and plan patient care, or grieving fami- lies seeking bereavement services, as well as members of the public seeking information about hospice services or community event space. The open-concept design features an abun- dance of natural light and anticipates Hospice’s need to adapt and continue to grow. Sustainability was a key design priority, and on-site solar energy, geothermal wells, and energy-efficient LED lighting was installed throughout the project. As a way to give back to the community and the environment, the building is predicted to be net-positive and will transfer any additional power produced by the solar panels to the Hospice of Southern Maine Gosnell Memorial House. The new facility will serve as home to clinicians and staff for many years to come, balancing the familiar comforts of home while embracing contemporary technologies that support innovative care.

Architect: SMRT Architects & Engineers
Project Team: SMRT Architects & Engineers
Builder: Zachau Construction
Photographer: Trent Bell
Location: Scarborough
Completed: 2020

 

Terramor

The Terramor Lodge is a window-filled timber-and-truss structure with vaulted ceilings, a double-sided stone fireplace, and rustic-style bar. The spacious open plan is designed to accommodate guest check-in, concierge services, and casual drinking and dining. The vaulted ceiling provides a grand scale upon arrival, reminiscent of historic structures common to national parks with a nod to modern design. Thoughtful noise reduction design mutes the echo typically found in large open buildings through the use of acoustic wall treatments that blend with the architecture. What is heard is the soft crackling of the wood-fired oven and mingling glampers’ conversations.

The outdoor seating experience is both romantic and rustic; the screened porch treats the senses with oversized screened windows, allowing the sounds of birds and the feel of breezes to flow through the porch and into the lodge interior. The building hovers above the gently sloping wooded site, creating a feeling of being perched in the trees. Outdoor seating choices wrap the building and float above the landscape. Outdoor lounging includes northwest-facing trellis seating and a screened porch, as well as southeast-facing porches and decks.

Along with the lodge, Design Group Collaborative (DGC) designed the outdoor picnic pavilion, poolside cabana, and bath house. These features support guests’ needs while they plan activities such as hikes in nearby Acadia National Park or boating along the rocky coast. DGC worked closely with corporate upper management to capture the essence of an outdoor resort. The word “Terramor” combines the Latin words for “land” and “love”—these elegant structures embrace their wooded surrounding both inside and out.

Architect: Design Group Collaborative Project
Architect: Michael Wade
Interior Designer: Lynda Casteris-El-Hajj
Landscape Architect: Sam Coplon Builder: E.L. Shea
Photographer: Magnus Stark
Location: Bar Harbor Completed: 2020

 

Camden-Rockport Middle School

The new Camden/Rockport Middle School (CRMS) opened in September 2020, welcoming MSAD 28’s grade 5 through 8 students. The 83,400-square-foot facility is constructed on the former school site and was carefully choreographed to allow the existing school to remain fully operational during construction. A later decision and community input saved the most historic portion of the original CRMS (the 1925 Mary E. Taylor Building), which will house the district’s central office as well as high school programs.

The new three-story building draws inspiration from the neighborhood scale, building materials, and rooflines; the site’s sloping topography affords a smaller facade that faces the residential street on which the campus is located. The classroom wing was placed facing the river and woods, allowing for direct access to natural learning environments. The single-story elevation at the main entrance is flanked by the cafe- teria—which has expansive views of Mount Battie—and the administrative wing. The building grows a story below and above the main floor toward the back of the site. In this way, the school has a smaller visual impact on the residential neighborhood while still providing ample programming.

The school includes grade-level classrooms, science labs, a gymnasium, a full kitchen and cafeteria, a 220-seat auditorium, and administrative spaces. The building was sited with the goal of maximizing natural light throughout the educational spaces. Visual connection to the local landscape can be seen throughout the building, from the interior color palette and public art installations, to the large nautical chart of Penobscot Bay on the wall of the cafeteria. Wood ceilings in the lobby, cafeteria, and library add additional warmth to these spaces.

Architect: Oak Point Associates
Project Architects: Tyler Barter, Robert C. Tillotson
Builder: Ledgewood Construction
Photographer: Randy Williams
Location: Camden
Completed: 2020

 

SeaWeed Company

SeaWeed Company approached Caleb Johnson Studio and MAAM in late 2017 with a vision of creating an architecturally significant building to lead the way into Maine’s adult-use marijuana retail future. The primary goal was to create a sophisticated but approachable feel that would generate a broad appeal, from the first-time buyer to the avid consumer. A pride in Maine-made craftsmanship was also integral to reflect the product line of the company brand.

The building is located along the busy Running Hill Road in South Portland and is tucked into a quiet corner of the lot, nestled among tall grasses and overlooking an expansive wetland landscape. The site was carefully designed to respect the landscape, and a selection of natural plants and permeable pavers with a filtration system clean rainwater before it returns to the wetlands. The front of the building is deliberately austere in appearance from the roadside for means of privacy, security, and sound protection, whereas nearly 20-foot-tall full-height windows in the rear capture spectacular views of the wetlands and an abundance of light. As the seasons change, a dynamic shift in the view occurs when the trees at the wetlands’ edge drop their leaves and the full expanse of the landscape is revealed. A large deck allows for outdoor space as part of SeaWeed’s commitment to promote marijuana wellness educa- tion, and to learn and connect, while overlooking nature and wildlife.

The building’s interior retail space features a dramatic full-wood ceiling with an inverted hip design and a polished concrete floor as a backdrop to highlight various products on custom-designed, Maine-made white ash millwork. The crafted qualities of the space are carried through with handmade clay tiles and metalwork designed by interiors architect MAAM of Los Angeles.

The exterior exhibits classic Maine building materials with twenty-first-century detailing and energy efficiency. The exterior wall is double-stud with Maine-harvested white cedar shiplap. The semi-transparent exterior stain was carefully selected to pair with the anodized aluminum curtain wall system as a balance of coordinated neutral tones against the pop of the SeaWeed Company’s glowing purple brand. The building was constructed by the studio’s affiliated construction company, Woodhull Construction.

Architect: Caleb Johnson Studio
Project Team: Caleb Johnson, Patrick Boothe, Lydia Mather
Builder & Millwork: Woodhull of Maine
Interiors/Design Architect: MAAM: Meredith McDaniel, Mariam Mojdehi
Civil Engineer: Terradyn Consultants
Structural Engineer: Structural Integrity Consulting Engineers
Landscape Architect: Soren deNiord Design
Studio Photographer: Trent Bell
Location: South Portland
Completed: 2020

Waterfront Pavilion

Little Knickerbocker Lake—the smaller of the two Knickerbocker Lakes, which served as the inspiration for Knickerbocker Group’s name when it was founded in 1978—plays host to Camp Knickerbocker, a 65-acre summer day camp that is an invaluable asset for the Boothbay Region YMCA and community alike. The camp seeks to forge children’s friendships, encourage potential, celebrate achievements, and explore new adventures, with the lakefront providing impactful programs for children to learn to swim, canoe, kayak, and participate in adventure programs.

The waterfront pavilion is an environmentally harmonious, partially subterranean structure that consists of four handicap-accessible bathrooms, four changing rooms, sinks, drinking fountains, benches, and cubbies. The contemporary approach to the design incorporates playful angular partitioning, low flow plumbing fixtures, and mini- malist finishes. Materials such as concrete, powder-coated steel, and low-maintenance trim ensure a simple, clean, and easily maintained structure, while natural materials such as meranti (a hardwood known for its resilience in exterior applications) were selected in an effort to harmonize the manmade structure with the surrounding environment.

The project is the first phase of a master plan that addresses site improvements related to storm water management and erosion control, and is part of a collaboration among Knickerbocker Group, the Boothbay Region YMCA, the Boothbay Region Water District, the town of Boothbay, and the Knox–Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District. The location, a hill facing the waterfront that had been partially cleared of trees, was ideal for erosion control, which was aided by simple but hardy landscaping for managing water flow. In addition, an extensive green roof of a sedum carpet needs little maintenance and no permanent irrigation system, and also provides changing colors with the seasons, from white flowers in the late spring to vibrant green in the summer to red tones in the fall.

Architect: Knickerbocker Group
Architectural Designer: Randy Smith
Builder: Knickerbocker Group
Project Team: Bill Burge, Bill Haney, Rick Nelson
Landscape Architect: Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture
Photographer: Darren Setlow
Location: Boothbay
Completed: 2020

 

 

Urban Infill

Eager to move into the city, the clients wanted a home with sweeping views of Casco Bay, copious amounts of natural light, and easy access to nearby restaurants and cultural venues. After locating one of the few remaining vacant lots in the area, the clients hired Briburn to design their dream home. Working with the limitations of a small urban infill lot, the city’s strict zoning ordinance and design standards, and a historic neighborhood concerned about losing its identity, Briburn worked to develop a home that blended modern living with traditional aesthetics.

The new four-story, energy-efficient, single- family home includes some unique features: a two-car garage located on the first floor, three bedrooms and a laundry room on the second floor, a large open-concept kitchen/dining/living area on the third, and a fourth floor that includes a mezzanine and a large outdoor rooftop deck for entertaining. Raising the public spaces to the third and fourth floors created an opportunity to capitalize on views of Portland’s harbor and increase natural lighting. A staircase located in the middle of the north side of the home creates a vertical light shaft, bringing natural light into the center of the home. An elevator provides easy access to all floors.

The home is energy efficient, low maintenance, and extremely comfortable. Its walls are filled with dense-packed cellulose and insulated sheathing outside, with triple-glazed windows. The shifted volumes are purposeful, recessing the garage to reduce its visibility from the street, and opening the southwest corner to allow views and natural daylighting from the neighboring homes.

Architect: Briburn
Principal in Charge: Harry Hepburn
Project Manager: Lucas Greco
Builder: Rainbow Construction
Photographer: Irvin Serrano
Location: Portland
Completed: 2019

 

2020 ARCHITECTURE LISTING – RESIDENTIAL

House on an Inlet

This project was the culmination of the clients’ 20+ year plan to spend more time in Maine as they worked toward retirement. Starting in the 1990s, they worked with Cape Cod architect Sheila Narusawa to build a small cottage with a kitchen and sleeping loft on the property. The clients summered there for years and spent time when they could as they primarily lived, worked, and raised their children in Massachusetts. The original intent for the cottage was to eventually become a guesthouse, and for a new house to be built, which would be more comfortable to live in as they were able to commit to more time in Maine.

Narusawa referred the owners to a local architect with an approach and aesthetic similar to hers, and Elliott Architects worked with the team to start implementing phase two. The elemental form, detailing, and materiality of the original cottage became a precedent for the new house. First, the cottage was relocated to an adjacent site, where it was moved from its original post-and-beam foundation to a new concrete foundation. The new house was sited in the cottage’s original location and linked to the guesthouse by a deck that serves all of the spaces at the same elevation. A new screened porch connects both buildings to act as an outdoor common space, and is tied to the public end of the new living and kitchen areas. To the south, on the opposite end of the new house, is the private owners’ suite, which overlooks extensive vegetable and flower gardens. A shared view to the west over the tidal inlet is enticing from any of the spaces on the property.

Architect: Elliott Architects
Project Architect: J.T. Loomis
Builder: Vision Builders
Structural Engineer: Becker Structural Engineers
Photographer: Ken Woisard
Location: Midcoast
Completed: 2018

Ledge’s Edge

Ledge’s Edge perches over Casco Bay on a concrete foundation preserved from a house that once occupied the site. Limited to the modest footprint and height of the original building, the new home cleverly uses structure and light to pack an immense amount of living space into a relatively small volume.

To introduce a lofted third floor within the allowed height, the underside of each level was left exposed to serve as the ceiling for the room below it. This unconventional technique granted an additional ten inches of headspace per floor. The warm and bright Douglas fir used on the floors and ceilings also lines many of the interior walls, creating visual continuity and the illusion of a larger space. The vaulted main living areas usher in a refreshing airiness.

Expanses of undivided glass along the home’s water-facing side invite the vastness of the Atlantic inside. Sixteen-foot-wide floor-to- ceiling doors and sidelights slide open to reveal transparent railings and transform interior square footage into simulated deck space. Gazing from the living areas within, the divide between interior and exterior all but vanishes.

A trio of tiered cantilevers afford additional space to feel like you’re floating over the waves. Nestled in each bay is a unique interior experience: a soaking tub that allows for visual and literal immersion in water, a window seat overlooking the ocean, and built-in beds that burrow into the upper eaves, providing a prime spot for stargazing through thoughtfully placed skylights.

The design for Ledge’s Edge considers sustainability as much as it does space. A high-performance envelope and airtight construction insulate the home. Heat recovery ventilation pairs with energy-efficient air source heat pumps to moderate the indoor climate. Much of the home’s remaining energy use is offset by a solar array. With its net-zero capacity, it is the ideal home to combat climate change and provide fossil-free comfort for both the present and future.

Architect: Kaplan Thompson Architects
Project Designer: Richard Lo
Builder: Warren Construction Group
Photographer: Irvin Serrano
Location: Yarmouth
Completed: 2019

 

 

Tall Trees

The clients of this new home came to Kevin Browne Architecture after living on the other side of the cove for many years. They were seeking a modern, energy-efficient home designed to maximize views of the lake. The property was a good size, but the actual buildable area was very limited due to a 100-foot setback from the water, which is required for new construction, and a setback from the road. Due to the restrictions, the design footprint was not very deep. Because of a slope in the lot toward the water, the architects were able to create three floors of living space and a one-car garage. On the lower level, you can walk out at grade to the water. On the water side, the structure is fairly tall, and was visually broken up with a mix of glass and various siding materials. The mono-pitched roof minimizes this feel from the road/entry side of the house. The inside of the structure has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms; each bedroom is en suite. The kitchen, living, and dining areas are open concept, with a two-story wall of glass in the living room that provides views of the lake to all of these areas, including a catwalk on the second floor. The stairs to the second floor and the catwalk were designed to be very open and see-through. This was done by using floating wood stairs with open risers and a cable railing, which breaks up the space between the separate halves of the house. This new loca- tion on Sebago Lake fulfills the clients’ needs for summer lakeside living for many years to come.

Architect: Kevin Browne Architecture
Project Architects: Kevin Browne, Rebecca Sargent
Builder: Meyer Development Solutions
Photographer: Heidi Kirn
Location: Raymond
Completed: 2019

 

Home Field

Designed for an active retired couple, this modern rural residence is sited in a meadow bounded by rolling woodland. Its overall form is a bent bar with a garage at one end, the owners’ suite at the other, and a recessed entry at its hinge point. Two shed-roof clerestories punctuate the building’s flat roof, lifting a high ceiling over the main living spaces, creating a platform for a future solar array, and moderating the scale of the garage—which accommodates not only two cars, but also the owners’ 30-foot rowing shell.

The building fans out from east to west, maximizing light and views and enclosing a single-floor layout that will remain accessible as the owners age. The garage wing includes an efficient linear mudroom, a laundry, and a guest room, all at a discreet distance from the central living spaces. A full bathroom serving the guest suite obviates the need for a separate powder room.

The plan centers on a combined kitchen, living, and dining space that telescopes toward the south for daylight and meadow views. Expansive corner glazing dissolves the sense of enclosure, while a high, sloping ceiling increases interior volume and balances interior illumination with daylight from a north-facing clerestory window. The owners’ suite, which comprises its own wing, also orients toward large, south-facing windows, with higher windows in the bathroom and dressing area to maintain privacy from the house’s entry yard.

The building shell was prefabricated in GO Logic’s facility in Waldo, delivered to the site in panelized sections, and assembled to create a super-insulated, air-sealed Passive House structure. Finish materials and detailing are consistently minimalist throughout, with wood millwork and trim providing warmth on the interior and cedar-plank siding that will weather over time, further naturalizing the building with its site.

Architect: OPAL Architecture
Project Architect: Riley Pratt
Builder: GO Logic
Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
Photographer: Josh Gerritsen
Location: Belfast
Completed: 2020

 

Maine Coastal Pool House

A coastal summer residence with outdoor entertainment and leisure spaces is ideal for any outdoor enthusiast. The family came to TMS Architects with a goal of creating an outdoor entertainment space centered around their pool that everyone in the family could enjoy. The project consisted of removing an outdated pool and underused pool shed to create an outdoor oasis. Multiple sitting spaces were designed and furnished by TMS to fit everyone’s tastes, from poolside full-sun lounges to partial sun entertain- ment under a pergola. The 1000-square-foot pool house creates a backdrop and shelter for the pool area. Close attention was paid to the massing and detailing to complement the main home’s 1920 shingle-style detailing without overshadowing it. Small dormers and muntin windows relate to accents found on the main house and allow natural light and circulation inside the pool house. The pool house contains a covered kitchen prep and eating space, and a two-sided fireplace with an exterior sitting area for mild coastal summer nights. Materials were kept natural and light, and select wood accents, warm gray tones, and brass fixtures add a hint of sophistication to the design. The brick chimneys add a bit of old-world charm and a visually striking vertical contrast. The exterior materials were selected to create a sense of casual comfort while maintaining the needed durability. Contemporary teak furniture and soft linen hues form an air of chic sophistication. Plush cushioned pool loungers with navy accents and woven elements add to the seaside mood in an understated way. The attached pergola helps transition to a light-filtered space in the summer sun; architecturally, it complements the mass of the gambrel and anchors the various sitting spaces underneath the structure. Landscaping was purposely kept minimal and natural for ease of maintenance and to fit well within the existing vernacular. Around the perimeter, planting beds of irregular shapes help define the patio space pavers, which flow into large field stone slabs at a cozy outdoor fireplace sitting area.

Architect: TMS Architects
Project Architect: Robert Carty, Timothy Giguere
Builder: Malmquist Builders
Landscape: Salmon Falls Nursery and Landscaping
Photographer: Rob Karosis
Location: Kennebunkport
Completed: 2019

 

 

 

Sky Apple

With its sandy shore and tight neighborhood fabric, Higgins Beach is a family-oriented beach town. The clients owned a home at the end of the neighborhood on a dead-end street toward the woods—a rather unique lot for the Higgins Beach area. The house acted mostly as a rental and was dark and poorly laid out. When the couple decided to move to Maine full-time, they asked Whitten Architects to redesign their home for year-round living, with a better layout and more light and air—a combination of beach cottage and Old Port–industrial vibe.

The site-specific design brought the home closer to the front corner of the lot, allowing for a more secluded outdoor space in the back. The house and garage act as a buffer from the street to create a private lawn space. Strict form-based zoning influenced much of the initial massing. The plan utilizes a main house body with a great room wing on the first floor. The great room, with a vaulted double-height ceiling, acts as the major first-floor living space to the south and east. The main bedroom is on the first floor to the southwest, while utility spaces live on the north side. Upstairs is an open loft-like entertainment area with an adjacent bunkroom enclosed with obscured glass, giving the room an open feel while still providing privacy. Two bedrooms and a full bath- room finish out the upper floor. The plan provides a beach house feel with large open spaces and a direct connection to the outdoors while providing cozy and private spaces. The exterior features Boral poly-ash siding for durability and less maintenance. Metal roofing on low, sloped roofs helps pitch snow, while the steeper roofs feature architectural-grade asphalt shingles. Durable interior finishes stand up to the wear and tear of everyday life.

Architect: Whitten Architects
Project Architect: Will Fellis
Builder: Douston Construction
Project Manager: Crystal Wilson
Photographer: Trent Bell
Location: Higgins Beach
Completed: 2019

 

 

 

Sebago Red Camp

The site for this project is a tranquil wooded lot along the northeast shore of Sebago Lake. The owners wanted to replace two old, dilapidated cottages—red and white camps—with new structures that deferred to the site’s majestic trees and complemented the natural environment while providing comfortable, calming spaces for family and friends.

The new “red camp” (not red at all, but the name of its prede- cessor stuck) is nestled among mature pines near the shoreline. Great efforts were made to not disturb the trees and to work the plan of the cottage around them. The floor of the cottage is set close to the ground to connect the interior and screened living spaces seamlessly with the site. Large expanses of windows take advantage of the views to the water while allowing daylight to flood in and brighten the boarded interiors. A central living and dining area is warmed by amber pine timbers and boards and a massive three-sided stone fireplace. The space opens to a screened porch that sits almost on the ground, only a few feet from the waves lapping on the lake.

A combination of gabled and flat roofs gives the cottage a familiar and traditional form while keeping its overall size within the limits defined by its predecessor. Two small screened porches are cut into the main gabled form on the second floor, providing a private retreat for each of the guest bedrooms there.

As important as the siting of the cottage was the choice of natural materials and finishes throughout. Locally milled pine boarding covers the interiors, enormous stones anchor the fire- place and chimneys, and exterior cedar boards with a muted, neutral stain work to blend the cottage humbly into its surroundings. Although it sits just along the shoreline, it is barely visible from boats passing by on the water.

Architect: Winkelman Architecture
Project Architects: Eric Sokol, Will Winkelman
Builder: Symonds Builders
Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates
Landscape Architect: Richardson & Associates
Photographer: Jeff Roberts
Location: Raymond
Completed: 2018

Cox Cove

This summer retreat sits on a quiet cove in Penobscot Bay. By separating the rooms into three separate structures, the architecture shapes a small courtyard, carefully aligned with the meridian to manage the sun. The tool shed defines the south side of the court and screens the parking area. A small sleeping cabin with two bedrooms and a bathroom defines the west side, and a dense copse of trees closes the east side. The main cabin, sited on top of a gentle rise, completes the north side of the court—its long axis exactly perpendicular to the meridian running east to west. The shadows from the window mullions act as a sundial and mark the hours of the day and the seasons.

Following a long-held New England building tradition, the exterior is sided in locally sourced eastern white-cedar shingles. Left unpainted, the shingles weather to a soft silver-gray color, connecting the buildings to the local vernacular. The steep pitch of the roof planes shed water, and the overhangs protect the windows and walls from weather and the direct sun. Rust-red paint connects the design to another New England tradition of using iron oxide barn paint.

One enters the main cabin by foot across the court, walking north and gently uphill from the parking area. The initial approach is directly on the north–south axis of the main cabin, but then shifts to the east to enter under the steep gabled entry porch. Inside, the oversized south-facing windows ensure ample light all day long. All structural rafters are exposed; a couch swings from sailing rigging, and an old refectory table welcomes friends. A screened porch extends the living space to the north through a 12-foot-wide glass overhead door, and to the 270-degree views of the tidal cove.

Architect: Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects
Project Architect: John Tittmann
Builder: Stone Contracting & Building
Photographer: Barry A. Hyman

 

 

Architect’s Home + Studio

The Architects’ Home and Studio is a newly built light-filled house tucked into an established neighborhood in Portland. Adjoining a 106-acre wooded sanctuary, the architect-owners sited the house as close to the mature forest as possible, at the ecotone, the lively edge between field and woods; it perches on the precipice of the slope to a tidal river.

The entry approach to a classic gable-form house sets up an expectation of the ordinary. From the street, the house is viewed across the nascent native meadow. The winding reclaimed asphalt drive creates an intended pastoral feel at the suburban site, along with a zinc-coated copper oriel window and bat house above. One bat house at each end recalls classic dovecotes. Each welcomes up to 200 bats, naturally contending with mosquitoes who also like to come out at dusk. The wood entry is detailed in shiplap; white trim and the punctuation of the blue door evokes memories of the owners’ wooden boats.

Inside, the floor-to-ceiling glass wall framing the forest is a surprise. The glass is hung on a steel frame, removing the need for a lowered header or intermediate supports. The living room feels as if it is floating out over the land, like a ship’s bow. The light-filled architecture studio has an independent entrance and occupies the lower level, with windows on three sides and views deep into the forest. The screened porch is built over a rubber roof and finished space, which not only permits more usable space on the lower level, but also allows for a future interior space if ever desired.

The long side of the house faces true south so that the living spaces, which face south and west, receive sunlight all day. A retaining wall anchors the house to the land and creates a sitting wall and space for a future deck.

Architect: Barba + Wheelock
Project Architects: Nancy Barba, Cynthia Wheelock, Tim Morrison
Builder: LeTarte Brothers
Photographer: Lynn Dube, Nancy Barba
Location: Portland
Completed: 2019

 

 

Northern Point Overlook

Northern Point, which overlooks both inner harbor views and Louds Island, provides the back- drop for this new, year-round shingle-style cottage with transitional details throughout. A tired cottage once stood in this extremely tight site, with exten-sive ledge, water runoff issues, and site constraints—including neighboring easements and square footage limitations. The fireplace and chimney were salvaged and served as a focal point to erect the new cottage design around. Phelps Architects maximized the incredible views, used the available square footage and volume, and created privacy from the neighbor- ing cottage, all through an energy-efficient design that is reflected in a compact yet dramatic design worthy of its location.

Shingle-style influences can be found in the feature octagonal stair tower with a custom cascad- ing three-story spiral stair, which was built internally once the tower exterior was complete with copper bell roof. The stairs spiral down unsupported, past expansive windows that allow views to the harbor and filtered light into the adjacent living space. Energy-efficient heat pumps, high-velocity air systems, spray insulation, and smart electrical and mechan- ical systems were implemented to provide comfort, technology, and efficiency year-round. Every inch of the half-acre site was thought through to maxi- mize the lot and building site, to allow for privacy, natural vegetation, hardscaping, an outdoor grill- ing area, parking, walking paths, a sitting terrace, a perennial pond, and a gazebo and kayak launch area. The building also takes advantage of the site terrain through a walk-out family room that required extensive chiseling of the ledge and waterproofing to incorporate. Balconies, wrap porches, and granite terraces provide opportunities to sit and marvel at the harbor boating activities and wildlife—including a moose that recently swam across the harbor.

Architect: Phelps Architects
Project Architect: Michelle B. Phelps
Builder: Bruce Laukka, Inc.
Photographer: Cliff Kucine
Location: Bristol
Completed: 2020

 

 

 

 

Paradise Road

Paradise Road is located on a ridge where the grade quickly drops off on either side and offers incredible views of Mount Washington to the west, and Mount Abram and the surrounding hillscape to the east. The client wanted views in both directions from the owner’s bedroom and main living spaces while maintaining a sense of privacy from the road.

The house was designed at a scale where it feels comfortable and cozy as a retreat for one, but is also functional and spacious enough to host large groups for ski trips and summer hikes. With a footprint of just over 900 square feet, the house is inviting as you approach from the driveway, and is situated to hide 2700 square feet of finished space with a capacity to comfortably sleep 18 people.

The steeply sloping site allowed the efficiently programmed building to nestle into the hillside, and for the design to be separated vertically. The lower level is a walk-out guest floor with two large built-in bunkrooms, while the top floor contains an owners’ suite and guest bedroom and bathroom. The main level splits the lower and top floors, which contain all shared living spaces—regardless of whether there are two or 12 people in the house, privacy and space are easy to come by.

With minimal interior walls, the main focus of the living space became the staircase. The stairs are the first thing you see upon entering the home and are the focal point of all three levels. Waterfall white oak treads give a sense of the floor wrapping up and over the risers, while light metal surrounds at the edge provide an elegant railing solution that adds a sculptural element.

Architect: Caleb Johnson Studio
Project Architect: Bud Angst
Builder: Clearwater Builders Construction
Project Manager: Eric List Landscape
Architect: Soren deNiord
Photographer: Trent Bell
Location: Bethel Completed: 2020

 

 

 

Saltwater Farm


The original farmhouse was lost long ago, leaving the detached cow barn and its stories of hardships and triumphs to inspire the new home for this oceanfront location. The use of the familiar farmhouse vernacular interpreted with modern proportions and thoughtful relationships allow a four-bedroom home to settle calmly into the landscape. The original barn was repositioned on the site to define exterior spaces and to balance building masses. The arrangement of interior rooms considers the sun-path, the views, and the visitors’ approach to the house. Greeted by the strength and warmth of natural materials, you are invited to experience the unfolding of intimate spaces into a larger, sun-and view-filled main living space, which can accommodate breakfast on the kitchen island or large celebrations where family and guests can effortlessly flow between inside and outside spaces. The exterior echoes the interior with choices of familiar materials, shapes, and colors. The play on the scale of the windows and interior proportions gives the home a brighter and more modern feel while still having a connection to the history of what once was.

Working collaboratively with interior designer Catherine King, the project reflects the careful integration of architectural and interior design. Catherine quickly understood the client’s interests in furniture, space, and finish. Her interpretation of the client’s needs and the architectural direction can be seen in her selection of color, fixtures, and finishes. The hardscape was designed by Paul Attardo and installed with great care by Peter Lewis and his team. Lewis brought his intuitive sense for planting to effortlessly connect the house to the land- scape and the ground plain. The entire effort was orchestrated by the contractor, Michael Russo. His sense of craftsmanship reveals itself at all levels of detail.

Architect: Attardo Pondelis Architecture
Project Architect: Paul Attardo
Builder: Michael Russo
Photographer: Jeff Roberts
Location: Yarmouth
Completed: 2018

 

Woods and Water


This 750-square-foot writer’s studio is divided into two distinct halves, sharing one roof and woven together by 1,000 square feet of white cedar decking. Sitting on a bluff of spruce and pine overlooking the sea, the structure’s minimalist form and material palette create a space for stillness, contemplation, and inspiration. Vertically installed cedar boards line the monolithic western face and are interrupted only by a framed entry view of the horizon. The elevation hugs the ground, sitting comfortably in the company of boulders. In contrast, the eastern side of the studio is raised high above grade, opening wide to the ocean and sky, with large sliding doors and generous window glazing. The northern half contains a spacious writing studio; the southern half contains sleeping and bathing spaces. The outdoor passageway around and between the two structures celebrates the unique beauty of the site, with places to retreat and places to expand among tree limbs and blue above.

The studio was designed to be carbon conscious and to meet high standards of energy efficiency. The wood-framed building includes materials that were carefully selected for durability, beauty, and carbon impact. The siding, decking, and pergola framing were constructed from locally sawn white cedar. Cabinetry, flooring, and wall accents were made of rift-sawn white oak. Other materials include dense-pack cellulose for insulation and self-adhering smart membranes for air sealing.

Architectural Designer: Rachel Conly Design
Contractor: Thompson Johnson Woodworks Photographer: Rachel Sieben
Location: Casco Bay
Completed: 2020

Up From the Ashes

The nautilus shell, with its curved, spiraling shape and multiple internal chambers, symbolizes creation, movement, fluidity, and evolution. So it seems fitting that it pops up a few times in the home Tom West recently designed and built in Standish, with the help of Winkelman Architecture’s Eric Sokol and a handful of artisans and craftspeople.

West, a bit of a renaissance man, is a businessman and engineer by training and a designer and artist by inclination. He moved to Maine in 1999 and purchased two adjacent camps on picturesque Watchic Pond. One property—a roughly 630-square-foot single- story cabin—became his home, the other was converted into a studio. The owner of Limerick Machine Company in Limerick, he is also an inventor who holds a number of patents. He’s made several large-scale collaborative sculptures at Burning Man and recently designed a piece for a sci-fi movie set. He also races cars on the Sports Car Club of America circuit.

In fact, he was flying to Florida to compete in his first professional race in 2013 when he felt compelled to start sketching plans for the dream house he hoped to build one day. “When I’m flying is one of my most creative times,” he says. “I just couldn’t stop drawing, but the whole time, I’m thinking, ‘You’ve just decided to race cars, you don’t have any money to build a new house!’” But when he landed, he noticed his phone blowing up with messages and quickly discovered his house had burned down. Was he upset? “I have to admit that it never felt bad to me once,” he says now. “It was crazy, but that’s the way my life is, all the time. No wonder I couldn’t stop drawing!”

West is a huge fan of modern architecture, dating back to a childhood visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Over the years, he would also flip through design and architecture magazines, gathering ideas. When it came time to finally build his new home, he chose to work with Winkelman Architecture, since he was already a fan of their work. “I showed up with my vision boards and my sketches, the general concept—but they definitely added their acumen to the project,” says West. “They really allowed it to come together, to pop.” As Sokol, the principal architect, explains, “Tom is a very unique guy, exceedingly creative and energetic. He’s almost hard to keep up with, but it’s awesome to work with him because he’s got this creative energy that just drives him forward. Right away, it was apparent that he wanted to do something different, and that was really exciting to us.”

When West started interviewing builders, however, he quickly realized that, given his vision and his budget, the only way he could make it work was if he acted as general contractor himself. “Our design team, which is usually architect, client, and builder, became architect and client–builder, which really streamlined everything,” says Sokol. “He knew exactly what he wanted and there were fewer decision points. He also owns a machine shop, so he had the means to do a lot of complicated steel fabrication, which saved time and money.”

One of the biggest challenges they faced was the site itself. “We had to work within the footprint of the previous home, on a long narrow lot that was only a little wider than the house—and it was steep,” recalls Sokol, noting that because of its lakeside location, they also had to follow shoreland zoning rules. “That limited both the location and the size of the home. But since it was just him living there it didn’t have to be a big sprawling structure. And we wanted the house to accommodate the landscape, not the reverse.” Ultimately, they agreed on a vertical solution: a roughly 1600-square-foot, three-story home, with an inverted layout.

The most ambitious part of the project? The exposed concrete foundation that makes up more than half of the house. Normally, as Sokol explains, building the forms and pouring the concrete takes just three or four days, but for this home, which is built into a hillside, it took three or four months. “When you’re doing exposed concrete it’s definitely harder, it’s an art,” he says. Because the concrete formed not just the foundation but also some walls of the home, everything had to be planned in advance—the location of bolts and fasteners, and, especially, anything that needed to be located within the exterior walls. “If you want a light fixture on the wall, you have to put the wire in that wall. You have to put in the electrical box—and there’s no changing it.”

Fortunately, West found a nearby mason who was up to the task: George E. Morrison. “You get one chance, and you hope everything is right,” says Sokol. “I think there was a day or two that was pretty tense. But it came out beautifully.” The lessons learned from the foundation carried over into the rest of the project. “The bulk of the structure is all visible, so we had to be exceedingly careful and deliberate about how it all went together, the concrete, the steel, and the wood timbers,” says Sokol. “Everything had to fit right and look good when it was done.”

When it came to the interior spaces of his dream home, the two driving factors for West were functionality and creating a space for entertaining. With that in mind, the home’s main entrance, which is accessed via a footbridge, is on the third floor—an indoor– outdoor entertaining space with a bar and fridge. The second floor includes a living room and kitchen (and another entrance), while the first floor contains the owner’s bedroom and features sliders that lead to a ground-level patio and the nearby lake. The second- and third-floor decks were designed to look as if they’re cantilevered, and the structure is topped off with a planted roof, which is part roof, part garden, part patio. When seen from above, it resembles ground cover, and is the perfect “softening” touch to finish off the property, says Sokol.

After all the steel, glass, and concrete outside, they shifted gears for the interiors, using a lot of reclaimed heart pine timbers— which are visible in the ceiling framing, as well as the central staircase—to ground the space and warm things up. The floors on the first two levels are polished concrete outfitted with radiant heating systems. On the second story, West added a large bronze nautilus pattern that is embossed into the floor. “It’s a common theme in my life,” he says. “It represents the whirl of life.” Stained white oak floors in the third-floor entertaining space add to the indoor–outdoor ambiance.

The home’s ultimate showpiece—and another nod to the nautilus theme—is the spiral pine staircase visible from every room in the house, which West designed with help from an artist he met at Burning Man, Nick Fournier. West wrestled with endless versions of the design before landing on the right one. “I was trying to get to a model where I could use the same identical piece, over and over again,” he says, explaining that Fournier—who travelled from Hawaii and spent the winter collaborating on the project—added the curves. The pair designed, cut, and installed the stairs in roughly a month, with the help of CNC machines and hand tools. “You don’t need to have all sorts of fancy stuff in the house,” says West. “You can make it beautiful by being perfectly practical, and that’s what it is.”

One of West’s other major contributions is the steel-and-oak suspension bridge leading to the main third-floor entrance, which was added to avoid having to use slippery outdoor stairs in the icy winter months. West treated white oak with iron sulfate, which stained it black, then wedged it together with steel pieces, in long, thin strips, along the length of the span. Originally, he planned to add radiant heating but discovered that he didn’t need it, because the snow falls right through the grates.

The final piece of the puzzle was the landscaping. West worked with Gnome Land- scapes, using repurposed granite for the stairs and strategically adding plants and trees to help blend the natural surroundings with the steel-and-concrete structure, tying it all together. “The idea is that the landscape will grow back in all around the house,” says Sokol, “and the house will be reabsorbed by the landscape.”

In the end, West couldn’t be happier with the results. “I wanted to build a place just for me. Even though it’s small, I’m able to host a nice gathering of people because I can open it up so much,” he says. “Every single room gets used every single day. It was built to be effi- cient…it’s perfectly practical.” He also raves about how the home looks like it’s part of nature, despite its modern geometric design. “It blends right in. You can’t see it from the lake. That was my goal,” he continues. “I love living there every day. It will never not be my house in Maine.”

Modular Masterpiece

Helena Galle, founder of a website for women over 40 called Grey-Feathers, is nothing if not ebullient. Asked to name her favorite aspect of the house that she and her lawyer husband, Craig Galle, built on the Kennebunkport coast, she comes on like a high-speed train. “Everything, everything, everything,” she says in rapid-fire rat-a-tat, then proceeds to enumerate the skylight above her bathroom mirror, the fact that her cooktop faces the view, the simplicity of the interiors, the light-filled hallway…and on and on. Catch- ing her breath, she concludes, “But honestly, we spend the most time at our dining room table. The view is incredible. To one side you have a preserve where no one lives, and to the other side you have the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a magical place. Who would ever want to leave?” Indeed it would be hard to find a reason.

The couple have homes in Florida and Florence, Italy. Until 2014, they also owned another in Maine, which they sold. Galle immediately regretted the decision. “I grew up in Connecticut,” she says. “You can take the girl out of New England, but you can’t take New England out of the girl. I’ve made my husband a convert.” Still, Craig was less than excited about the uninteresting structure that formerly occupied this site, which had little sense of connection to the outdoors and ocean. So they engaged Boston-based Marcus Gleysteen Architects to build them a house primarily for the two of them, but with a second floor “zone” that could be opened up when their kids, ages 16 to 28, came to visit.

Gleysteen, as it turned out, was developing a modular concept he calls “a first version of an empty-nester prototype house.” The various zones allow the home- owners a 4,500-square-foot residence that is “as experientially small as possible. It’s tight, easy to take care of and manage, with all the main spaces on the view.” By putting extra quarters upstairs and in a guest cottage, he says, “those zones are out of sight, out of mind.”

The form of the residence draws on boathouses and fishing shacks built on granite foundations that populate the coast. The modules that make up the structure are clad in alternating Maine granite and cedar, with vast expanses of glass (the largest being almost 28 feet). Connections between them employed Boral, a material made of bio-based polymer and fly ash, which is a byproduct of the coal industry. The material looks to the eye like steel. But Boral was necessary, explains Geoff Bowley, the principle of Bowley Builders in Kennebunk, because “it allowed us to paint with a dark steel-like color that offset the connecting forms while absorbing little to no moisture and, therefore, it won’t move or contract in warm or cold temperatures.”

Punishing coastal conditions, in fact, determined many of the building materi- als. “We want to bring the beauty of nature in while keeping the terror of nature out,” says Gleysteen. “Here, windblown debris is a major issue.” Hence the use of windows from Duratherm in Vassalboro, which was able to create fenestration larger than many other manufacturers could build, and was also able to sandwich a layer of acrylic between panes, rendering the glass shatterproof.

The interior is filled with innovations so subtle that they might go unnoticed, even though they immeasurably enhance the experience of living in the home. Take the entry hall stair, for example. “We tried to make it as simple and minimal as possible, but articulate the way materials came together,” says Gleysteen. “The wood treads never touch the walls. They’re interrupted by an interstitial length of steel,” actually an extension of the steel armature upon which the treads sit. Gleysteen repeated this idea with the kitchen shelves. These are almost imperceptible details that, nevertheless, when observed, elicit a deep appreciation for the home’s craftsmanship.

“Sustainability is about using local materials,” says Gleysteen. “But it’s also about maintaining artisans and the craftsmanship that Maine is known for, from the ironwork- ers to the masons.” He spent considerable time, in fact, with the latter to figure out how to alternate the size of stones and the seemingly random placement of them to achieve patterns on exterior walls that convey a refined rustication that contrasts with the spans of glass and cedar.

The architect also brought light in throughout the house with devices like the skylights over the aforementioned owners’ bath sinks (allowing the couple to see their faces in natural light). He foreshortened the kitchen wall just before it arrived at a support column, leaving a gap so that anyone cooking or prepping could look out the front glass panes to see who is arriving when they hear car wheels on gravel. And that cooktop facing the ocean? “It’s a trick that Lydia Shire taught me,” says Gleysteen, speaking of the famous Boston chef and restaurateur. Shire explained that unless a chef is doing a lot of à la minute cooking that requires concentrated attention, cooking “is much more of a social thing,” requiring minimal attention as one adds ingredients to pots, waits for water to boil, or stirs the soup. Conversely, washing dishes requires “constant hand–eye coordination” in order to not break something or cut oneself, so there’s more time spent looking down. Because of that, Gleysteen placed the sink against the tiled inner wall and the cooktop facing the sea. At 36 inches high, the range height is lower than the 42-inch counter of the island, which conceals (and protects guests at bar stools on the other side of the island from) cooking spatters.

Galle and Gleysteen collaborated on the interior design. Most upholstered pieces were sourced at RH, but accessories came from Illums Bolighus, the Copenhagen-based retailer that the Swedish architect considers the best source in the world for Scandinavian design. “The most sculptural component we have to work with is light,” he adds, explaining that they sought out pendants and chandeliers from a variety of fine handcrafted sources, such as the 150-year-old Schonbek (now part of Swarovski) chandelier in the living room.

Buxton-based landscape architect Emma Kelly’s approach to the grounds was to “borrow outdoor rooms for indoor space” to create “one long experience of arrival and release.” Conceptually speaking, from the approach through the preserve, she says, “we pulled the best of the woods with us, bringing it closer to the house,” (i.e., placing evergreens along the facade), while out back was about the sea, which meant lots of clearing toward the view. To create privacy on the lateral sides where adjacent houses were visible, Kelly continues, “we packed in materials—lots of green.” Ferns, huckleberry, and bunchberry bushes create dense underbrush for taller trees.

The extraordinary amount of thought, layering, and craftsmanship, however, is orchestrated so subtly that the experience of the house and property comes off as effortless and easy. Which is, of course, the aim of the best modernist sensibilities. “A lot of us believe in simplicity on the far side of complexity,” says Gleysteen, “taking a Gothic church and reducing it to something almost Shaker. It’s simple and minimal, but rich in meaning and context.”

Finding a Fit

There’s a piece of California hidden in Heide Martin’s Rockland studio. It’s located behind all the sawdust-strewn workbenches, behind the cabinet filled with Japanese handsaws and Lie-Nielsen handtools, up the metal set of stairs, inside her sparse office space. Her husband and business partner, Patrick Coughlin, clears it off so that I can better see the work. “It took her over 40 hours to weave that,” he says with a touch of pride.

The cane weaving is an unusual touch for a coffee table, but even more unusual is the fact that Martin does this work by hand. “Most people use premade panels that they cut to size,” Cough- lin explains. Not Martin. Her work, which bridges the line between art and craft, rarely involves anything remade. This oil-rubbed walnut table inspired by the landscape and architecture of southern California, is a remarkable bit of craftsmanship, solid and delicate at once. It’s a unique piece, destined for a furniture gallery in Los Angeles. While you can see images of it online, this is the kind of work you have to encounter firsthand to truly understand. It’s subtle, the beauty. Its appeal comes from the texture, the finish, the interplay between natural materials. It comes from the luster of light moving over grain, over the delicate cellular structure. It’s quiet, but impressive.

You could say that of all the pieces that come out of this two-person Rockland studio. Martin and Coughlin strike me as calm, restrained people who do calming, restrained work. They seem to fit in well with Yankee culture, though they’re not originally from here. They met and were married out in Seattle. Before coming to Maine, she worked in land- scape architecture and he worked as a designer and finish carpenter. “I felt like working on a computer for the rest of my life wasn’t the road I wanted to go down,” Martin explains of their 2015 decision to switch coasts. “We moved here so I could enroll in the furniture program at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. We liked the area. We stuck around.” For nine months, she studied joinery and finishing, turning and veneering. She threw herself into the program and found that furniture making felt right. It fit.

So did Maine. A little more than a week after Martin’s program ended, they bought a house in Appleton. She started working at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, and Coughlin continued working for a local furniture maker. In their off hours, they began to build their own business, one where Martin’s designs (already being lauded by magazines and finding followers among interior designers and architects) would take center stage. Coughlin would work in the background, running numbers, managing projects, and finding new ways to produce their high-end designs. “I have plenty of opinions when it comes to design,” Coughlin adds with a laugh. “But I know that doesn’t make me a designer. It’s a collaboration, but it’s her vision. I’m lucky to be a part of it.”

Five years later, they have struck a tentative balance, one that has been interrupted by the global pandemic (and a new infant addition to the family) but not overturned. Coughlin still works production, Martin still designs. “We’ve gotten more plugged into our Maine community,” says Coughlin. “We’ve been working a lot more with people here, rather than people in California or New York.” This is a good thing, not just because it cuts down on shipping costs. It also allows people to see their work: the finishes, the textures, the undulation of fibers, the grain of wood.

One of the more specialized elements of Martin’s creations is her weaving. “I taught myself,” she says. “There’s not a lot of schools that teach it and it’s an art in and of itself.” A lifelong crafter, Martin liked the idea of making bristly plant fibers mimic string and yarn. She had been sewing for years, and she had used a loom before, but caning, weaving with leather, working with Shaker tape? All that was new. Fortunately, she was in the right place. Some of the most famous designs to come out of Maine were historically produced by Shaker communities. Their work was simple, graceful, and subtly textured. Their chairs used woven elements to add comfort and strength. Martin could learn by looking.

“Back when I went to shows,” she says, “and I’d tell people I was from Maine, they’d say things like, ‘Ah that makes sense.’ I think they could see something in my designs before I could.” From the beginning, Martin used a lot of local lumber—ash and oak, alongside other Ameri- can hardwoods, like walnut—to make her cabinets, trays, stools, and coffee tables. “We don’t use any exotics,” she says. “It’s all about regionality. I want my work to be of a place.” She brought in other materials, like leather, Tampico fiber, and felted wool, to add visual interest and utility. For instance, Martin designed a shoe cabinet with a woven door, “to add breathability.” She has a bench, intended for use at the end of a bed or beside a door, topped with plush merino felt. She’s used leather to add softness and flexibility to her furni- ture. All of her materials are chosen to “age gracefully,” she explains. “I feel like it’s important to have honesty behind a piece,” she says. “Like you can understand it when you see it, and when you live with it. I like things that aren’t too precious. I don’t want somebody to buy something I make and worry they might damage it.”

While Coughlin is focused on making more production-oriented pieces (i.e., available in a higher volume at a lower price point), he shares Martin’s reverence for finely done work. To that end, he’s been working on making things like trays, stools, and hand mirrors that feature exposed joinery and oil-rubbed finishes, things he can produce in the workshop and ship to customers who find them online. “I’m working to make things more efficiently,” he says. From both a “philosophical and temperamental standpoint,” production appeals to him. Like everything else in life, it’s a balance. “I want to bring design to more people,” Coughlin says. Martin agrees. “When we can do fairs again, I want people to be able to go home with some- thing of mine. A cutting board, a tray table. It would be nice.”

Castle Tucker

When Silas Lee and his wife, Tempe, moved into the grand, Regency-style house they called Elm Lawn in 1807, Wiscasset was the most significant shipping port northeast of Boston. High on a hill overlooking the busy harbor, their brick mansion was distinguished by its rounded, two-story bays flanking a three-story central section. While prosperous Wiscasset boasted other impressive homes too, Elm Lawn was a showplace befitting Silas Lee’s stature as a former U.S. congressman and chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas of Lincoln County.

Not long after the Lees settled in, however, the Embargo Act of 1807 drastically changed Wiscasset’s fortunes. Signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson to prevent America from being drawn into the Napoleonic Wars, the act prohibited American ships from trading with Europe. His finances in ruin, Silas Lee died in 1814 without a will, leaving Tempe to fend for herself. She was the first of several women who would have to be resourceful to maintain the house.

The last in this line was Jane Tucker, the granddaughter of the Tuckers who gave Elm Lawn its current name, Castle Tucker. The house had passed to her upon the death of her aunt, Jennie Tucker, in 1964, and she eventually turned it over to the nonprofit organization Historic New England. “Jane contacted us in the late 1960s and early 1970s when she moved to Maine after Jennie died, looking for advice on how to preserve the house and her family collection,” says Peggy Konitzky, the Wiscasset site manager for Historic New England. “She kept up a conversation with our president, curators, and conservators for years.”

To help fund repairs, Jane opened Castle Tucker to visitors. She was involved in the community, taking a particular interest in history, genealogy, and preser- vation; she often entertained in the house and offered it for local charitable events. In the late 1970s Jane asked the organization how much of an endowment it would require for her to give them the house. “In 1996 she came back to us and said she had the money,” says Konitzky. “In the meantime, she had collected this massive archive. She and her sister, Mary Tucker Shaul, had cataloged everything in the house.”

Castle Tucker today offers a rare look into the life of a family whose fortunes ebbed and flowed, but who proudly and creatively managed to keep up appear- ances. From the elegant rooms on the first floor to the attics, its furnishings, artwork, books, decorative objects, dishes, and kitchenware, even clothing, chronicle nearly 140 years of Tucker family history. “One of the reasons Historic New England took on Castle Tucker was because of the depth and breadth of the collection,” Konitzky says. “Every drawer you opened was full; every closet had things in it.” Much of it dates from the Victorian era, during the tenancy of Jane’s grandparents, Richard and Mollie Tucker.

Life in Wiscasset was once again on the upswing when, in 1858, shipping agent Richard Tucker Jr. moved into Elm Lawn with his wife, Mollie, and their infant daughter, Mary. Urged by his father to settle down, Richard paid $10,500 to discharge the debts of bankrupt local businessman Franklin Clark, who had owned Elm Lawn since 1845 (there is scant information about other owners of the house following the Lees). To furnish his new home in style, Richard ordered 14 crates of furniture, including a piano, to be shipped to Wiscasset from Boston. He had an Italianate-style entrance built at the side facing the circular drive and added a three-story piazza with massive windows onto the front, which dramatically altered the look of the house.

The neighbors began referring to the house as “Tucker’s Castle,” and the Tuckers’ daughter Jennie later claimed the name with pride, adopting Castle Tucker as the moniker for their gracious home. Stepping through the side entrance, today’s visitors see a very similar scene to the one that greeted the family and friends who pulled up in carriages to visit with Mollie and Richard and their five children. At the end of the hall, a flying staircase curves gracefully to the second floor. On the left, in one of the two bays, lies the original dining room, which the Tuckers used as a billiard room. During Clark’s tenure, he had replaced the house’s central chimney system with these exterior chimneys, a decision that had unpleasant consequences for the house and its residents: the chimneys have always leaked, an issue that continues to this day.

“Water damage and water infiltration were and remain the most pressing problems,” says Konitzky. This is especially evident in a second-floor bedroom located in one of the bays, where where the cost to fully repair and renovate the water and insect damage is expected to be $150,000. On the main floor, Historic New England has already rebuilt the bay in the billiard room and removed, cleaned, and reinstalled the parlor wallpaper. Now its leaf pattern subtly shimmers, reflecting the light. Current projects include painting the exterior its original cream color and restoring windows throughout the house.

Despite their comfortable surroundings, the Tuckers’ marriage was not a happy one. Richard was absent for long periods of time, and his large investments in steam technology were not successful, leaving little money to run the house. Having expected to live as a lady of leisure, Mollie was instead forced to take in boarders to help pay the bills. She placed ads in the New York and Boston papers, looking to attract well-heeled city dwellers interested in spending their summers on the Maine coast. Mollie prepared most of the guests’ meals herself, serving them in a dining room that had been built onto the back of the main house, next to the well-outfitted kitchen.

In 1905 Richard and Mollie’s youngest daughter, Jane, known as Jennie, moved home to Castle Tucker to help her mother. Fifteen years earlier, water leaks had damaged the painted ceiling and walls of the piazza’s first floor, which was often used as a sitting room. With no money to restore it, the women creatively transformed the room, using cardboard and paper to create panels to cover the damage and adding Japanese lanterns, umbrellas, and fans, a look believed to have been inspired by the enormously popular Japan exhibition at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The room contains other memorable artifacts, including hand-painted chairs from Sicily and a Russian visa obtained for Richard Tucker to attend the 1856 coronation of Czar Alexander II.

Jennie Tucker, who never married, continued to maintain the house following Mollie’s death in 1922. She took in paying guests until the 1930s and also earned money by raising pigeons and, sometimes, by selling her beautiful hand-painted china, some of which remains in the Castle Tucker collection—another example of female enterprise and ingenuity. “For me, it’s a story of women’s perseverance,” says docent Jane Blanchard. “They never gave up, just held their heads high, and no one knew they didn’t have any money.” Konitzky thinks that part of what makes the house so compelling for visitors is that everyone can relate to the struggle of making ends meet. “In 2006, my first year, I did a tour for prominent people in Wiscasset. One was an elderly gentleman, and at the end of the tour he had the weirdest look on his face,” she says. “I thought I had gotten something wrong, but he said, ‘Peggy, I never knew how poor they were. I never knew they were struggling.’ There’s a dignity in that somehow.”

Design Wire December 2020

ADIDAS and design studio KRAM/WEISSHAAR have created a robotically woven shoe upper, called STRUNG, that is made to the exact specification of the wearer’s foot, including factors like what the individual’s foot shape and stride is like. “With bespoke software and robotics, we are able to place threads of different material types in any direction, which is a first across industries,” says Adidas innovation designer Fionn Corcoran-Tadd. The manufacturing process allows for a lightweight and super durable upper to be made from threads placed exactly where they are needed, meaning extra parts and pieces typically used to make a shoe can be eliminated. The result is a single, anatomically accurate, high-performance piece. While Strung is currently only being developed for elite athletes, Adidas hopes to produce a commercially viable option by 2021.

Design-build firm KNICKERBOCKER GROUP is opening the second location of its interior design branch, COVE by KNICKERBOCKER GROUP®. Located at 82 Hanover Street in Portland, the studio is filled with curated accessories, a library of thousands of textile and wallpaper options, and furniture with samples in every stain and color. COVE also offers an exclusive, private line of upholstered furniture, custom cabinetry, and one- of-a-kind pieces produced by local artisans and craftspeople. The resource studio is the ultimate destination for collaborating with Knickerbocker Group’s interior designers; custom mobile workstations allow for easy side-by-side client collaboration and exceptional project organization. The new location is open to the public starting December 1 by appointment only.

Finnish studio BERRY CREATIVE has created heat-sensitive stamps that send
a message about the negative effects of climate change. Commissioned by the FINNISH POST, the CLIMATE CHANGE STAMPS collection comprises three designs: a snow cloud that changes to a thunder cloud, a portrayal of limited immigration that changes to a mass of climate refugees, and a bird that turns into a skeleton. “Unlike the effect in the stamp, climate change is not reversible,” says the studio. The stamps are printed on gradient backgrounds in a color-transforming ink that changes from black to clear when it’s warmed; their jagged edges and eye-catching colors evoke a sense of urgency.

The UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND (UNE) received a $30 million gift from
the HAROLD ALFOND FOUNDATION toward the construction of a new building for the COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE, which is currently based in Biddeford. The planned 110,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost $70 million and will be constructed on UNE’s Portland campus behind Innovation Hall. The Portland campus is already home to numerous medical programs, such as dentistry, pharmacy, physician assistant education, nursing, and physical therapy—integrating the College of Osteopathic Medicine in with other health care programs will allow for more robust educational curricula and practices. The grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation is part of a $500 million investment to grow the state’s workforce and economy and support health care.

The FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FOUNDATION collaborated with KONZUK, a design firm that specializes in making concrete jewelry and objects in geometric forms, to create the CONCRETE MOTIF SERIES. The interpreted motifs include Saguaro Form and Cactus Flowers, March Balloons, and Imperial Gate. Each motif collection consists of earrings, necklace, ring, and cufflink designs—every design is available in various color patterns, including black, dark gray, Taliesin red, indigo blue, cypress green, and flax yellow.

Maine has been awarded $45 million from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION’s BETTER UTILIZING INVESTMENTS TO LEVERAGE DEVELOPMENT program for infrastructure improvements. To replace one compromised and five at-risk bridges, the MAINE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION will receive $20 million. The bridges are in Litchfield/West Gardiner, Stonington, Greenbush, Southport, Milo, and Bridgewater. The remaining $25 million will replace the 111-year-old Ticonic Bridge between Waterville and Winslow. An additional $2.5 million was awarded to support public transportation systems adversely affected by the pandemic: the Maine Department of Transportation will receive $2.1 million from the FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION’s CARES ACT, and Biddeford–Saco–Old Orchard Beach Transit will receive $440,944.

The MAINE COMMUNITY BANK, a new entity created when Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings merged, broke ground in October on a facility on Larrabee Road in Westbrook. The 23,000-square- foot project will be completed in roughly one year and is expected to cost $8 million. The three-story structure will employ 50 people and serve as a full-service branch as well as a bank operations center. WRIGHT-RYAN CONSTRUCTION is the general contractor, and the building design is by ARCHETYPE ARCHITECTS. The project is set to reimagine an old metal building into an energy-efficient space with air filtration systems and spaces for socially distant business operations.

French candlemaker AMEN is delivering its products in innovative new packaging made from mycelium and agricultural waste. Many companies use hidden plastics to ship their fragile items: while the outer packaging may be plastic-free, bubble wrap or plastic foam is often used to protect items from breaking during transport. Amen partnered with bio-technology startup GROWN to create a cylindrical box made from mycelium for each individual candle. The process takes roughly seven days to complete. Mycelium is mixed with agricultural waste, such as hemp, and placed into a mold. Fungi feeds on the waste and grows to fill the mold before it’s dehydrated. The process is also carbon negative— the packaging captures more carbon than it produces.

Earlier in the year, as the pandemic pressed on and medical supplies became scarce, CARBON and RESOLUTION MEDICAL designed, produced, and launched a 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swab with a lattice tip in less than three weeks. The flexible tip conforms to the shape of the nose and easily rotates around the nasal cavity, affording greater patient comfort, and the hollow structure allows the swab tip to collect more mucus. The design improves the efficacy of COVID-19 testing—Carbon and Resolution Medical are currently working to produce one million swabs a week.

Tinker Toys

 

It’s that time of year when the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story airs on television. When Ralphie, the main character, is asked by his mother what he would like for Christmas, he responds, “I guess I would just like some Tinkertoys.” He fears hearing the dreaded words “You’ll shoot your eye out” by admitting he really wants his coveted Red Ryder BB gun. He instead selects the classic Tinkertoy because it was (and is) considered safe and, most importantly, educational. Tinkertoys are grouped with other iconic twentieth-century construction toys like Lincoln Logs and Erector sets that help teach children about spatial relations and encourage imaginative play.

Toys reflect the times in which they are made and are often re- placed by more innovative toys. But some endure for several generations—like Tinkertoys. The toy was invented over 100 years ago by stonemason Charles Pajeau, who worked for his father’s monument business. He was tired of carving tombstones and spent a great deal of his time tinkering with new inventions that often failed. One day, he was watching children play outside using sticks, pencils, and old spools of thread, and was impressed by how simple materials ignited their imagination. He devised a construction set of similar wooden pieces, calling his new invention the “Thousand Wonder Toy.” On the commuter train from his home in Evanston, Illinois, to Chicago in 1913, Pajeau proposed his newest invention to Chicago Board of Trade trader Robert Pettit. Together they started the Tinkertoy Company. In 1915, a year after its creation, the business produced 900,000 construction sets for Christmas delivery. In five years, six million sets had sold.

The cornerstones of the sets were the wooden spools that were roughly two inches in diameter, with holes drilled every 45 degrees around the perimeter and one all the way through the center. With the differing length of sticks, the set was intended to be based on the Pythagorean progressive right triangle. Tinkertoys came with instructions for creating elaborate mechanical “tools,” such as printing presses, lathes, airplanes, and power saws. Probably the most famous form made using the set is the Ferris wheel. The toy’s designer once noted that imitators did not appreciate the geomet- ric principles behind Tinkertoys and their rip-offs inevitably failed.

The toy was originally intended for younger children, but in 1919, with the addition of an electric motor, it became a more sophisticated gift for budding architects and engineers. The economic boom of the 1950s brought color to this classic wooden toy and the sticks appeared in red, green, blue, and yellow. One of Tinkertoy’s most distinctive features is the packaging. Initially, the tube design was chosen to reduce shipping costs and included space for postage and an address label. The containers came in several sizes to accommodate the different sets, and distinctive names and numbers indicated their contents.

Playskool acquired Tinkertoy in 1985 and redesigned it in 1992 in honor of its eightieth anniversary. The new version featured brightly colored plastic parts, with each set designed to create certain objects.

Over time, Tinkertoys have been used to create complex machines, including Danny Hillis’s tic-tac-toe-playing computer (now in the collection of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California), and a robot at Cornell University in 1998. Tin- kertoys were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong Museum in Rochester, New York, in 1998. Hasbro and K’NEX now own the Tinkertoy brand and currently produce both Tinkertoy Plastic and Tinkertoy Classic (wood) sets and parts. The toy continues to inspire children’s creativity, as they use it to turn their ideas into reality. One of its early advertising slogans stressed the open-ended play the creation continues to offer: “I build a thousand wondrous things that teach both girl and boy; I bring content and happiness; My name is Tinkertoy.”

Landscape Designer Soren deNiord on Finding the Truth Through Design

“Anything more than the truth would be too much.”

MH+D ASKS DENIORD TO TELL US MORE.

Q: What is “quiddity” and how does this word influence your work?

A: The definition of quiddity is the essence of something, its “whatness.” I interpret the word in the context of design as “truth,” one that is based on the particulars of each project: the site ecology, geology, cultural context, empirical data, client’s values, natural phenomena, design team, budget, and program. I often think of Robert Frost’s phrase, “Anything more than the truth would be too much.” Trying to find the truth of the site is the design challenge. For me, this process begins as additive—collecting as much information as possible to understand the project as a whole. Then through iterative design studies, I test and eliminate elements that don’t work or fit. Paring and paring and paring back even further, the design eventually reveals itself.

Q: How does the Maine landscape help guide you to the truth of the site?

A: Every project is different, but fundamen- tally I’m interested in asking the question, “What does it mean to feel connected to this place?” So much of living in Maine is the immersive outdoor experience, whether viewing or interacting with our landscape. How do we create heightened moments of awareness? How can we harness seasonality and phenomena to embed memory and emotion? On residential projects, this may mean siting a structure and “healing it” with grading and planted forms so that it appears as if they were always there—then editing out any formal design to make sure it does not distract from or compete with the natural context (a horizon line, for example, or a rocky outcrop). Other times the design is more overt, framing a view or creating a broad flush of plantings that surprises and jolts a sort of consciousness. Ultimately the goal is to create moments of appreciation of one’s place in the world and a sense of connectedness to the environment.

Q: Do the other members of the project’s design team impact your design?

A: We work closely with a range of collaborators: architects, developers, builders, craftspeople, homeowners, etc. The most successful projects come about when we are able to join the design team early. That way we have the ability to consider how the building’s massing works within the larger landscape, testing the structure from the outside in and inside out. For residential design, the landscape is such a fundamental part of the home experience that the house and landscape really inform one another. I work to extend the architectural intentions into the project site, creating a cohesion of spaces and materiality that echo throughout the project.

Q: You’ve been involved with some well-known urban art projects. How do you integrate art in your work to reinforce quiddity?

A: The idea of using landscapes as a platform to ask questions and add meaning to places excites me. Landscapes, whether public or private, have the potential to activate a discourse through art and engage communities. By collaborating with artists or creating landscape elements that convey ideas, place, truth, and art become inseparable. This is not a new idea; I absorbed it through traveling and studying in Europe, where architecture, landscape, and art are so unified. I’m currently a board member of TEMPOart, a local nonprofit organization that champions public art in the city of Portland. We strive to use public spaces as an armature for art, a mirror of sorts that helps us make sense of our evolving city.

Q: Lastly, how did you arrive in the field of landscape architecture?

A: I studied land-use policy and fine art in college and was looking to pursue a career in one of those two fields. After researching graduate schools, I discovered that landscape architecture could provide a complementary balance to both my interests. I was drawn to the idea that I could fuel my creative ambitions and apply my knowledge of the natural world. The discipline is very broad. I’ve gravitated to residential design, but I’m also fortunate to work in both the commercial and public realms. I love the variety of scale and thinking involved in the day to day. One moment I can be detailing paving patterns or developing a master plan and the next brushing up against big philosophical ideas, contemplating beauty, quality, and nature.

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