Densely wooded and characterized by a difficult topography, the thirteen-acre site in Concord, Massachusetts overlooks a private pond and offered few alternative locations for a large building. As a result, privacy and vistas governed the siting. The clients' extensive program described rooms, ways of using spaces, material qualities, stylistic expectations, concerns for neighbors' perceptions, as well as a fixed budget and schedule.
The design effort focused on orchestrating a montage of elements in an unprecedented manner, aiming to produce an original whole. The resulting building consists of several components: a strongly figural courtyard; an "L" shaped house that partially surrounds the courtyard (and is itself composed of the courtyard wall and the body of the house); and a triad of ancillary volumes annexed to the outer perimeter of the main volume.
The strategy of montage enabled design flexibility that responds to the complexity of the problem; the building is composed rigorously, but also sympathetically with the local New England residential architecture and the clients' need for a home. Whereas the courtyard wall employs traditional double-hung windows, stone walls, and wood siding, the body of the house is composed on an a-b-a-b classical grid, which partitions space according to functional needs. The body is wrapped with a typical, vernacular wall surface (wood clapboard, painted white), on which fenestration patterns precisely register the rhythms and hierarchies of the plans and interior spaces.
The three ancillary volumes function as follows: a formal salon is used occasionally, the domestic breakfast room daily, and the rustic screen porch seasonally. Understood as a "house" rather than "a house as work of art," the building permits its users personal iconographic outbursts, without suggesting a totalizing aesthetic. The project's realism makes it widely intelligible rather than abstract or purely artistic -- in essence, a building whose artistry is made architectural, while simultaneously acknowledging the many powerful circumstances that shaped it.
Award for Excellence, Architectural Record 1994