Gathering Lodge: Game Time!

State College, PA: Homeowners Jim and Cheryl came to us with a dream home request: design and craft a home for two which could also easily accommodate much larger gatherings with family and friends. The resulting simple and classic cruciform plan for their hybrid timber frame home fits the couple while incorporating space—inside and out—for others.

Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

Jim and Cheryl, their children, and their friends attended the same university near State College in PA where game season is a great reason to join together. The couple found a site nestled at the base of a long rise to the mountains on one side, and open to expansive views into Nittney Valley on the other. “We wanted to take advantage of the views and offer additional space for intensive entertaining to flow outside,” explained Ty Allen, our design/build manager. “The result is nearly 2,000 sq ft of outdoor deck, porch, and patio space in addition to interior living areas.”

Screen porches and a terrace for grilling connect to the fire pit stone patio area which in turn is tied back to the rec area with connecting landscaping. The lower level of the home offers guest and rec space with overflow sleeping ready in the bunk house over the garage. Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

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Fly-through from Man Cave to Kitchen: Tour a Timber Frame Home Design

Designing a home, timber frame or other, is a very personal endeavor full of desires, questions, needs, and dreams. Through communication and concentrated craftsmanship, a physical form is developed, a shelter that will be “home”, hopefully for generations to come. Each custom project brings our team new experiences from overall site planning to materials and finishes. This month finds us in close connection with a couple who are looking for a relaxed and secluded single-level home for their land in central New York. Diana, one of our design team members, created a fly-through tour of the home and adjacent barn renderings:

Above: Architectural design software helps our teams produce images and videos with textures and color which help homeowners ‘experience’ their plans in a more realistic 3D perspective.

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Right Sizing Your Design: more than square feet

Quality design is the thread that weaves through all we do, beginning with architectural plans. Whether you are the designer or architect, or you come to us with a professional design, or you hire us to design your project, it all starts here.

The focus of our design efforts has many branches including: efficiency–both in energy and how the home functions for the family–comfort, durability, and future needs. “A home should inspire a better way for us to live,” shares Ty Allen, AIA, our design/build manager. “It should respond to your needs today and also stir us to live better, to do better tomorrow.”

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Design Parti! Smith Mountain Lake Living

“No fish and no gum today?”

I was sorry to disappoint Pete for our design discussion, but I was indeed empty handed except for my notebook and pen. I reluctantly shook my head. With his usual cheer and chuckle, Pete continued, “That’s okay, Megan. Next time…both.”

I had sequestered Pete on the porch this sunny afternoon to learn more about a large lake home project the team had designed. It was raised late last year on Smith Mountain Lake and, rumor has it, is steadily nearing completion.

An early rendering of the Smith Mountain Lake project.

“I can’t say I’m feeling very linguistic today,” Pete admitted. It turned out he had been doing sheer wall calculations, which meant crunching numbers, all morning. Regardless of a head full of figures and formulas, we managed a good conversation diving into details of the design/build for this family vacation home. I even learned a new term:

“It all starts with a parti,” Pete began. I wasn’t aware of project parties, but that sounded good to me. This elicited a big smile and shake of the head from Pete. “No, not a party, a parti or parti pris—the central design idea we develop with the homeowners and then use to define, build, and detail a home. We constantly test our designs against this theme to be sure we’re creating in the right direction. In this case, the parti narrowed down to creating a home that sits nicely into the landscape, accepts and welcomes upon arrival, has great views and lake access while providing space where all of the family could be together comfortably under one roof.”

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Interview with an Architect: Richard Brown, AIA

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Richard Brown AIA, founder of RBA, about a newly completed project in Portland, Oregon. The modern, yet traditionally inspired design has a reclaimed timber frame core combined with stick built spaces. Nestled along the hillside with views of Mt. Hood, Richard explained that this will be the main home for a creative couple—a modern house with traditional queues. We conversed about this project and the broader driving forces behind his architectural creativity:  

What can you tell us about this project’s build site?
It’s a really beautiful site in Portland, which are getting to be rare in major cities as our population grows. This site had a home removed a few years back in anticipation of a development which never happened. There are great views to Mt. Hood and good access to sunlight. The homeowner is an avid gardener, so we intentionally sat the home into the shade away from where sun falls to leave space for gardens and a meadow area.

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