''Aerie' Wins Design Award


"Aerie," t he three-story house of ornithologist Page Hartley, recently earned its owner and Eastern Shore architect Peter Newlin a design merit award. The award, presented at the annual banquet of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, was given by a jury of three Princeton, N.J. architects.

The owner asked that additions and renovations be energy efficient, compatible with the original cabin design and inexpensive to construct, according to Newlin of Chesapeake Associated Architects in Chestertown. Hartley also wanted a design that blended into the forest surroundings and provided a good location for bird watching.

"We started with an insulated slab-on-grade floor," Newlin explained. "We struck the concrete deeply into big flags like stone. The (the owner) put on eight coats of stain. It really feels like an expensive stone floor, but warmer."

The project was completed for $75,000, about $42 dollars per square foot.  [For our design strategy, see:Elements of an Economical Architecture]

An eight-foot skirt, derived from the cabin's hip roof, surrounds the rectangular main house mass. Under the shed roof, the exterior wall moves inside and out in simple modulations which give the house: a trellised

entry, a sitting porch, a small kitchen, a dining space with oriel window, a laundry, a bathroom and even dry storage for firewood.

Inside the skirting, the center of the house steps upward to an exposed Douglas fir joist and decking ceiling, according to Newlin.

Since birds live in different strata, Hartley insisted that the house have three stories so she could observe the birds that live on the forest floor, at mid-level and in the treetops. Newlin made the two floors simple rectangles and used a low-cost spiral staircase to reach them.

The jury said that the design was "empathetic with the client's desire to be observant."

The spiral stair defines a small entry foyer and separates it from the kitchen. The stair rises to the second floor to shape the hall there and the bathroom. On the third floor it arrives in the daylight of a dormer, just off the study.

The stairwell allows the house to ventilate naturally, drawing cool air in at the forest floor and exhausting hot air through the dormer windows.  Charles Heal of Chestertown was the builder.

Reprinted from Mid-Shore Real Estate -1/17/1992

"Birds that live in the tree tops don't come down, and those on the ground don't go up."

Photographs © J.Tyler Campbell
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