Architectural Marvels

Robert Benson Photography
Trent Bell Photography
Trent Bell Photography
Trent Bell Photography
Trent Bell Photography
Nick Lavecchia
Carol A. Wilson Architect
Trent Bell Photography
Trent Bell Photography
Meggie Booth
David Kurtis

The winners of the 2016 AIA Maine Design Awards

Last year, when AIA Maine announced it was accepting submissions for its biennial Design Awards program, 63 projects poured in from architects across the state. A jury of nationally recognized peers reviewed the submissions, which included projects that were commercial, single-family residential, and small (with budgets under $100,000); they designated 11 winners in four categories. “We try not to give our jury too much instruction, and we don’t ask them to give out a certain number of awards,” says Jeannette Schram, executive director of AIA Maine, the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “We are simply looking to recognize great design.”

A principal reason the 35-year-old Design Awards program enjoys such robust participation from Maine architects is its tradition of choosing an acclaimed jury, says committee chair Gavin L. Engler of Carol A. Wilson Architect in Falmouth, who worked with Portland-based committee members Paul Lewandowski of Lavallee Brensinger Architects, Jesse Thompson of Kaplan Thompson Architects, and Scott Simons, FAIA, of Scott Simons Architects to pull together fundraising, organize the jury selection and submission process, and lead the design of a gala honoring the work of all the applicants. This year’s New Haven–based jurors were selected for their individual accomplishments and collective understanding of Maine’s climate and geography. Alan Organschi of Gray Organschi Architecture chaired the group, which included Elizabeth Gray, FAIA, of Gray Organschi Architecture, Joeb Moore of Joeb Moore and Partners, Joyce Hsiang of Plan B Architecture and Urbanism, and Craig Newick of Newick Architects.

“Architects are interested in their colleagues’ work,” says Engler. “We belong to the same tribe, having had similar life experiences from architecture school to practice. Because the jury members are held in mutual esteem, there is a spirit of friendly competition.” There’s also a deep respect for the effort it takes to usher any project from the drawing board to completion, let alone an award-winning one. “To be an architect one must practice patience, persistence, and perseverance in addition to optimism that a feat may actually be accomplishable,” he says. On the following pages, MH+D joins our state’s architectural community in paying homage to a few of those most impressive feats.

Honor Awards

Casco Bay Ferry Terminal Addition & Renovation, Portland | Scott Simons Architects

Situated on a crowded wharf at the entrance to Portland Harbor, the city’s ferry terminal was built in 1988 to service 500,000 passengers per year. Today one million people ride the ferries annually, and for many the boats are the lifeline between their year-round island homes and the mainland. To accommodate the increased crowds and to transform the formerly dark, inward-looking terminal into an open, joyful public space, Scott Simons Architects in Portland designed a 4,900-square-foot addition that houses an expanded waiting room, more efficient ticket and freight offices, and larger, more serviceable restrooms. The team also repaired the wharf’s rotted marine infrastructure and reconfigured the vehicular plaza on the east side of the terminal.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “This is a strong, simple project that clarifies and organizes a complex working site and provides a beacon for travelers on land and sea. We appreciate the restraint, clear detailing, and the sensitive deployment of ordinary construction materials and systems. The lightness and flexibility of the building envelope are convincing expressions of the possibilities of a ferry terminal.”

Architect: Scott Simons Architects

Design Team: Scott Simons, FAIA, & Austin Smith

General Contractor: Landry/French Construction Company

Civil Engineer: Woodard & Curran

Geotechnical Consultant: Haley & Aldrich

Lighting Designer: Peter Knuppel Lighting Design

MEP/FP Engineers: Allied Engineering

Mural Designer: Casady Design

Mural Installation: The Interiors Library

Specifications: Lowell Specifications

Structural Engineers: Becker Structural Engineers

Waterfront Consultant: Fay, Spofford & Thorndike (now Stantec)

Little House on the Ferry, Vinalhaven | GO Logic

On a steep slope overlooking a former quarry, a trio of cabins hovers on piers above a delicate layer of soil that provides a scant foothold for vegetation. Among the patches of green are granite outcroppings, some hewn by time, others split and left behind as a visible memory of the once-prevalent granite industry on Vinalhaven. GO Logic in Belfast devised the elevated structures, each comprising a living-dining unit and two sleeping units, to “minimize their impact on the recovering vegetation in the quarry,” says project architect Riley Pratt. Cedar decks connect the cabins, which allow visitors to enjoy the island with a degree of autonomy, and create a loosely enclosed, shared outdoor space. Prefabricated cross-laminated timber panels form the shell of each cabin. Composed of layers of lumber—in this case black spruce—laminated together in a solid, bidirectional sandwich, the panels are factory-cut to the precise building dimensions, then shipped and assembled on site. This highly sustainable, cost-effective construction solution reduces labor, travel, and impact on the location. The ruggedness of the panels, which are exposed on the cabin walls, floors, and ceilings, reinforces the minimalist building forms and materials palette of white cedar cladding and metal roofing, creating an appealingly clean, rustic feeling.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “We love the simple materials palette, and the precinct created by the careful stepping of platforms and cabins is very strong. The possible interactions between people sharing this constellation of unitary cabins are intriguing.” 

Architect: GO Logic

Project Architect: Riley Pratt

General Contractor: C.W. Conway & Sons Builders

Cross-Laminated Timber Panels: Nordic Structures

Structural Engineer: Bensonwood

Warren Woods Ecological Field Station, University of Chicago, Chikaming Township, Michigan | GO Logic

Nestled on 42 acres adjacent to Warren Woods State Park in Berrien County, Michigan, this 2,400-square-foot building is the first Passive House–certified laboratory in North America, and the fifth in the world. Used by the University of Chicago’s Department of Ecology and Evolution for research projects, programs, and classes as well as retreats and events, the facility offers a fully equipped lab where small groups of students and researchers grow, process, and study plants. The facility also includes a seminar space, kitchenette, bathrooms, and three sleeping cabins adjacent to an environmentally significant beech and maple climax forest.

GO Logic of Belfast designed the field station to meet the German Passive House standard, which represents up to a 90 percent improvement on energy needs compared to a structure built to standard code, by creating a compact, highly insulated building shell that makes use of solar gains. Additional heating is provided by redistributing the lab’s high internal loads into the rest of the building with transfer ducts installed between the spaces to help distribute the warm air. “We have always felt Passive House was more than a residential solution, but also a perfect fit for institutional clients as a way to reduce operational costs and maintenance,” says project architect Timothy Lock. “To be able to positively test this theory in the context of a progressive design solution was the icing on the cake.”

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “What a beautiful project—the shed and flat-roofed forms are skillfully juxtaposed and provide a variety of interesting interior spaces and lovely relationships to outdoor spaces. The difference in expression of the building skin, from transparent to opaque, underscores the sculptural qualities of this building in the field.” 

Architect & General Contractor: GO Logic

Project Architect: Timothy Lock

Carpentry: Ebels Construction Management

Heating & Cooling: Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating

Lab Equipment: Thermo Scientific

Lighting: Artek, Eureka, Finelite, RAB Lighting, WAC Lighting

Mechanical Engineer: J.H. McPartland & Sons

Passive House Certification: Passive House Institute US

Plumbing: Chicago Faucets, Just Manufacturing

Site Supervision: Energy Wise Homes

Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates

Windows: Kneer-Südfenster

Ventilation: Zehnder America

Merit Awards

Batson River Residence, Kennebunkport | Carol A. Wilson Architect

Located on the banks of the Batson River, this home replaces a 1950s ranch that was in ill repair. In an effort to tread lightly on the site, Carol A. Wilson Architect in Falmouth reused the existing foundation and supported an upper-level extension on slender galvanized steel columns, avoiding damage to several large oak trees that sit within feet of the house. Beyond this minimal intrusion, the drilling of four wells for a geothermal heating and cooling system was the only disruption to the wooded landscape.

A covered entry ramp on the north side of the house gives way to a glass vestibule with views through the dining area to the river; a ten-by-nine-foot red pocketing panel can close the living spaces. Operable glass doors, shaded by a three-foot-deep roof overhang, run the full length of the southern façade save for an opaque wall where a library and laundry room are located. The owners’ suite is situated on the other side of that wall for privacy. With the glass doors open, one has the experience of living in a screened porch. A bona fide screened porch on the western end provides sunset views of the river. Open stairs to the lower level afford easy access to the water and a guest suite. “Sensitivity to the site extends to color, and we had trouble picking one for this house’s exterior,” says Wilson. Eventually, project architect Gavin Engler came up with a matte black stain that references the long shadows cast by the surrounding trees. “The clients and I were skeptical at first, but now it is one of my favorite things about the house.”

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “Clean and crisply detailed, this project provides nice views through the building and connections to the site. We would like to see the home at different times of year. The colors selected will do some interesting things under the dark canopy of summer and in a blanket of snow.”

Architect: Carol A. Wilson Architect

Project Architect: Gavin L. Engler

General Contractor: Shoreline Builders

Electrical: Clark Electric

Lighting Designer: David A. Betses

Mechanical Systems: Bundy Mechanical

Roofing: C.O. Beck & Sons Roofing & Sheet Metal

Stainless-Steel Fabrication: Tunnelwerks International

Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates

Tile: Andrew Thomen Custom Tile & Flooring

Windows & Doors: Marvin Windows & Doors

Sebago Hall, Standish | SMRT

When Portland-based SMRT was commissioned to design a new assembly hall for the Salvation Army’s historic Camp Sebago, “we knew it would be a considerable addition to the campus, which had remained largely unchanged for decades,” says principal architect Paul Stevens. Responding to the summer camp’s vernacular of red-painted wooden buildings with green roofs tucked into the woods along Sebago Lake, the team designed Sebago Hall to “nestle into its surroundings as if it had existed there all along,” says project architect Nicole Rogers. The new building, rendered in red board-and-batten siding with a green standing-seam roof, features a 300-seat auditorium, classroom, restrooms, expansive decks, and a stone plaza. At the entrance, a tower composed of Douglas fir slats and polycarbonate panels that emits a soft glow at night is a beacon for visitors. Inside the main hall, light filters through leaf-shaped cutouts in the wooden ceiling panels, evoking a sun-dappled path. Crescent moons are cut into the restroom doors—a nod to outhouses—and custom red concrete bathroom sinks provide pops of color in a place you might not expect it.

A complex, three-dimensional truss of southern pine glue-laminated timber and steel supports the roof of the voluminous auditorium, which serves as a performance space for campers and a worship and event space for the Salvation Army. Maple board-and-batten panels surround the stage, and sliding glass doors open onto the decks, allowing gatherings to extend outside on warm evenings. The floor is finished in durable red linoleum. Overhead, custom multi-pronged chandeliers are dotted with oblong lamps that recall fireflies captured in glass jars.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “The long, low-slung gable form is traditional, yet modern and fresh in its proportions and detailing. The architects found a way to show importance at the entry, while downplaying the larger volumes, producing a convincing whole.” 

Architect, Engineers & Interior Designer: SMRT

Principal-in-Charge: Paul Stevens

PrincipaL: Paul Lewandowski

Project Architect: Nicole Rogers

Interior Designer: Jeana Stewart

Job Captain: Tim McDonald

Structural Engineer: Andrew Bradley

General Contractor: Zachau Construction

Surfer Residence, York | Caleb Johnson Architects & Builders

Perched on a family plot along a heavily traveled road, this home was designed to be energy efficient and, at just 1,100 square feet, affordable for a young couple. “The road happens to be on the northern edge of the property, so optimal solar orientation and screening from undesirable site elements went hand in hand,” says project architect Josh Brockman of Caleb Johnson Architects and Builders in Biddeford. Most circulation paths and accessory spaces were shifted to the northern side of the building. The southwestern corner, on the other hand, was splayed as open as possible to allow for heat gain from the winter sun and to take advantage of pond and meadow views. A louvered solar shade above the windows adds visual texture to the traditional building form, protects the insulated concrete-slab floor against summer heat gain, and allows winter rays to penetrate deeply into the house. The home is otherwise heated by electricity, but the owners report that, even on winter days, no artificial heating is necessary when the sun is shining.

Working the program elements into the allotted square footage was a challenge. But by carefully minimizing the footprint of bedrooms, baths, and circulation areas, the team was able to create surprisingly large public spaces. The extremely tight, simple building envelope also helped limit costs, as corners and jogs both add to the bottom line and reduce performance in foundations, roofs, and walls.

Durable, affordable, low-maintenance materials were used throughout the home. The polished concrete slab that helps to regulate heat is also a beautiful finish floor for the main level. Locally sourced hemlock posts and beams provide structural support to the second floor, as well as a touch of natural warmth. An open-stringer stair of hemlock, oak, and steel allows light, air, and views in the living area to flow freely, enhancing the openness of the space. The siding and trim are Maine-milled white cedar, installed in a reverse board- and-batten style to enable drainage and airflow behind the boards. Left unfinished, the wood will weather to a silver-gray, minimizing the long-term operating costs and future ecological impact of the house.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “We admire the straightforward massing, proportions, and simple, effective plans. There is an appealing feeling of height, despite the narrow plan. Borrowing a lot of space outside also helps to make the little building feel big.”

Architect & General Contractor: Caleb Johnson Architects & Builders

Principal-in-Charge: Caleb Johnson

Project Architect: Josh Brockman

Carpentry: Company Nineteen

Electrician: M.J. Electric

Energy Modeling/HERS Rating: Horizon Residential Energy Services Maine

Engineer: Structural Integrity

HVAC Systems: Haley’s Metal Shop

Windows: Marvin Windows & Doors, Pinnacle Window Solutions

Sleeping Porch, Otisfield | Carol A. Wilson Architect

In the early 1980s, architect Carol A. Wilson, FAIA, designed one of her first homes for clients on Pleasant Lake. Thirty years later, they circled back to her with the idea of creating an attached sleeping porch for their Brooklyn, New York–based daughter-in-law and her young family. Conceived as a merger of a lean-to and summer camp bunkhouse, the Douglas fir porch accommodates four trundle beds and offers the experience of sleeping outdoors, albeit quite comfortably. The thin wooden roof floats atop narrow columns and screened walls, while skylights located between rafter bays provide views of the stars at night and the tree canopy by day. A stainless-steel handrail protects the screening and makes itself convenient as a clothesline for bathing suits and towels.

A wall to the north separates the porch from the driveway and adds just enough enclosure to feel comfortably “tucked in,” says Wilson. This wall also serves as a continuous headboard for the trundle beds. A wall to the west partitions the porch from the house, creating a new covered entry and a path through to the lake. Reconfiguring the rolling trundle beds allows the owners to transform the space for dinner parties, dancing, and play.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “This little project accomplishes a lot with some very simple, elegant moves. We appreciate the thoughtfulness of the detailing and the way the structure is both inside and outside the screens. We like the solid side at the entry, the creation of the breezeway, and the lift toward the view.”

Architect: Carol A. Wilson Architect

Project Architect: Gavin L. Engler

General Contractor: Dyer’s Camp & Cottage Service

Stainless-Steel Fabrication: Tunnelwerks International

Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates


Cousins River Residence, Freeport | GO Logic

A wooded bluff above the Cousins River estuary is the location for this 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home, designed by GO Logic to the stringent Passive House standard for energy performance. Sited in a clearing to take advantage of solar gain, the building reads as three box forms—the house, the screened porch, and the garage—each with a shed roof that slopes in the opposite direction from its neighbor. The strong horizontal lines of the single-level structures provide a nice contrast to the surrounding pine forest. A covered walkway stretching between the house and garage helps connect the buildings to the landscape.

Natural light from the south-facing windows floods the vaulted interior and filters through the translucent glass of a custom two-sided, wall-sized bookcase in the open living space. There’s a kitchen with gray, painted wood cabinetry at one end of the room and an ash accent wall with a television and built-in daybed at the other. In between is the dining/living area, which is separated from the corridor that leads to the bedrooms and bath by the bookcase constructed from Baltic birch plywood, steel, and acid-etched glass. Concrete flooring, swirled with a dye that creates a mottled limestone effect, suits the home’s modern styling and is a critical component of its energy performance, helping to maintain and regulate the interior temperatures throughout the year.

Because the living room has multiple focal points (view, kitchen, bookcase, woodstove, TV), selecting furnishings was a challenge, says architect Gunther Kragler. Critical pieces, including the daybed and a modular sofa and coffee table, “allowed the space to be flexible and adaptable for day-to-day living and special occasions,” he says.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “The simple juxtaposition of forms creates interesting overlaps. We commend the introduction of synthetic materials to the wood interior, amplifying the projection of light deep into the plan.”

Architect & General Contractor: GO Logic

Project Architect: Gunther Kragler

Casework & Cabinetry: North Yarmouth Woodworking

Electrician: Electric Man

Flooring: Day’s Concrete Floors

Framing: Wood Design

Granite Countertop: Freshwater Stone


Painting: R.I. Randall & Son’s

Plumbing: D.J. Small Plumbing, Heating & Pumps

Structural Engineer: Albert Putnam Associates

Tile: Old Port Specialty Tile Co. & Green River Stone

Windows: Kneer-Südfenster

House Over the Water, Surry | Elliott & Elliott Architecture

This house defines the edge of a precipitous embankment that drops steeply down to Blue Hill Bay. The environment, although bold, is extremely fragile and susceptible to erosion. With a series of piers pinned to ledge beneath the beach, Elliott and Elliott Architecture in Blue Hill elevated the home above the ground and flood plain, allowing the terrain to be stabilized below. A pair of granite sea walls defines a terrace while providing a means of adjusting the inclination of the bank.

The volume of the house was governed by zoning regulations that limited the maximum buildable envelope, based on the size and proximity to the water of a grandfathered structure that was previously present. This led to a bipartite massing aimed at distributing the majority of the allowable volume to the main living area overlooking the water and keeping the scale of the structure relatable to the surrounding buildings. In the main space, the roof is pitched to the south to capture daylight and filter it deep into the house, simultaneously providing passive ventilation through high clerestory windows. The clerestory, in conjunction with skylights and large operable doors and windows at the floor level, allows the house to remain cool without air conditioning.

It was a critical project requirement that the home engage with the water both visually and physically. From inside, unobstructed views are achieved through floor-to-ceiling glass, allowing the expanse of the bay to act as backdrop to the activity inside. At high tide the water comes under the house, “providing a sense that one is floating above the sea and lending a feeling of tranquility to the interior,” says project architect Corey Papadopoli. Below, a set of stone steps from the terrace descends to the beach and directly into the water at high tide.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “We like the way the house has been sheared off its site and is hovering, as well as the sidedness of the project—small and low on the street and floating up on stilts from the water. This is a very skillful plan with a smart use of the clerestory.”

Architect: Elliott & Elliott Architecture

Principal-in-Charge: Matt Elliott

Project Architect: Corey Papadopoli

General Contractor: MK Construction

Bank Stabilization: Burdick & Associates Landscape Design

Landscape Architect: Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture

Lighting Designer: Peter Knuppel Lighting Design

Stone Fabricator & Installer: Freshwater Stone

Structural Engineer: Becker Structural Engineers

Recognition of Special Details

305 Commercial Street Studio, Portland: Column Treatment | Lavallee Brensinger Architects

Last year, Lavallee Brensinger Architects began leasing a raw studio space with 14-foot ceilings and 15-inch-wide square oak columns on Commercial Street in Portland. After layers of brown paint were stripped from the posts they looked appealingly rustic, “but a bit naked,” says principal architect Paul Lewandowski. In an effort to add color, control noise, and create a distinctive look for the workspace, he used D.L. Couch’s Nufelt fabric in Duckling to create vibrant zippered sleeves; a layer of batting beneath the fabric helps even out irregularities in the wood. Made from 95 percent postconsumer recycled content, the felt coordinates with the canary yellow accents on the team’s Knoll Antenna workstations, as well as details such as the nylon-rope whipstitching Lewandowski added to the Forbo walk-off mat shown here. “Our staff feels that if things get too crazy, hug a column—it’ll calm you right down,” he says.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “A really nice invention and a great way to bring a wonderful material into the human realm and soften, change, and update the timber columns.”

Architect & Interior Designer: Lavallee Brensinger Architects

Principal-in-Charge: Paul Lewandowski

Project Architect: Jeff Galvin

General Contractor: Grayboard Custom

ArtWORK: Ava Zwolinski

Cabinetry: Asa Gorman Builders

Column Fabric: D.L. Couch

Flooring: Paul G. White Interior Solutions

Walk-off Mat: Forbo Flooring Systems

Friends School of Portland, Cumberland Foreside: Stair Design | Kaplan Thompson Architects

Connecting with the outdoors guides the curriculum at Friends School of Portland, and influenced the design of its new facility on a 25-acre wooded lot in Cumberland Foreside. For the main staircase, Kaplan Thompson Architects in Portland specified horizontal white pine boards cut from trees that were cleared from the site during construction. White and pickled finishes showcase the grain and texture of the timbers. Beneath the stair, a cozy nook with stepped platforms encourages occupation by individuals and groups. The platforms also double as display plinths, with adjustable lighting in the underside of the stair to highlight both exhibits and the wood finishes. A vivid tangerine wall and matching rubber stair treads and risers “create an exciting focus for the circulation through the building and a magnet for social interaction between the upper and lower classrooms,” says project architect Richard Lo. As for the coil-shaped handrail at the base of the stairs: it turns a code constraint (handrails must be turned toward a wall or post) into a metaphor, perhaps, “for young minds being stretched toward new potential,” says Lo.

NOTES FROM THE JURY: “We love this stair—it creates a vertical room, jungle gym, and hangout space, and serves as a wonderful source of daylight and color.”

Architect: Kaplan Thompson Architects

Principal-in-Charge: Phil Kaplan

Project Architect: Richard Lo

Project Team Members: Camila Atkins & Morgan Law

General Contractor: Warren Construction Group

Civil Engineer: Blais Civil Engineers

Electrical Engineer: Bartlett Design Lighting & Electrical Engineering

Landscape Architect: Soren DeNiord Design Studio

Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer: Allied Engineering

Structural Engineer: Casco Bay Engineering