A Mixed Pedigree on Martha’s Vineyard

Places / January 28, 2010

For a house with a long, thin footprint, this one on Martha’s Vineyard packs a real kick.

It’s done in the shingle style, and more than a little reminiscent of H.H. Richardson’s 19th century work – a taut skin stretched over volume and mass, then carefully punctured with graceful openings for windows and doors.

“It’s a mixed pedigree – it’s got a number of influences,” said architect Mark Simon of Centerbrook Architects and Planners LLP in Centerbrook, Conn. “There’s that shingle style, a touch of Japanese design, some Frank Lloyd Wright, and then – with the eyebrow and those ribbon windows under the eaves – that Richardson look.”

Centerbrook built the original home with carriage house about 15 years ago. In 2008, the firm came back and renovated both, adding a second carriage house. Between the three buildings, the complex overlooking the bay at Martha’s Vineyard now features five bedrooms – two of them upstairs in the main house.

The owners don’t believe in air conditioning, and since one of its primary uses is as a summer home, large overhangs allow them to open windows during rainstorms, staying cool and dry. “It keeps the summer sun out, and the winter sun in. It’s light without heat in the summer,” Mark said.

The biggest challenge initially was to shoehorn the slim, narrow building comfortably into its site. “There’s the symmetry and simplicity of the central eyebrow bay, but at the same time there’s a delicate formality, like an old, sweet gentleman in a tie,” he said. “It’s a formal structure but a soft house that fits into its site well.”

For more on Centerbrook Architects and Planners LLP, visit http://www.centerbrook.com/. For more on Jeff Goldberg, photographer, go to: http://www.esto.com/photographer.aspx?id=902

Photography by Jeff Goldberg ESTO


Michael Welton

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