The pressure was on for architect Donald Powers when he designed the prototype house for a new, active adult community within the Hudson River Valley community of Warwick Grove, N.Y. It had to occupy just 2,400 square feet and appeal to an audience of 55-and-overs who were accustomed to 30 percent more house and considerably bigger yards. The house also had to complement the village of Warwick, which is chockablock with first-rate examples of 19th-century Queen Anne and shingle-style architecture. To the architect's great relief, the home's May unveiling was a big hit.
"It was sweet revenge for me," says Powers, whose Providence, R.I., firm was tapped to work on the 38-acre, 212-unit project. "I really wanted to do something that was a more creative interpretation of traditional elements, with strong forms that show up both in the farm landscape around here and in the village itself."
Powers used shingles, painted clapboards, and other timeless materials as a way to casually reinterpret the best traditions of the Hudson River Valley. The steeply pitched lines of the roof--both on the house and garage--make a vibrant statement and give the exterior a downright proud face. The architect maintains that starting with a strong form actually makes construction easier. "From a production point of view, if the forms are very strong it relieves the builder of the necessity of having to detail everything perfectly," Powers says.
Inside, the first floor is organized around a courtyard that provides light and views for the master bedroom, living room, kitchen, and dining room. The rooms are well-proportioned and clearly defined but still offer a sense of openness, light, and flow. The second floor, which features two bedrooms, a sitting room, and a flex room, is meant for visiting friends and family.
Powers' prototype is one of eight plans that can be rendered in three basic styles, which will result in about 25 different variations for Warwick Grove. "In a neighborhood that's being built by a single developer, it's very important to find a way to get that kind of variety," says Powers. "To the great credit of my clients [LeylandAlliance], they were absolutely committed right from the start to doing this as a real demonstration project for everybody in the region."
Category: Single-family production home, 2,000 to 3,000 square feet; Entrant/Builder/Developer: LeylandAlliance, Tuxedo, N.Y.; Architects: Donald Powers Architecture, Providence, R.I.; DeGraw & DeHaan Architects, Middletown, N.Y.; Land Planner: Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., Gaithersburg, Md.; Landscape Architect: Karen Arent Landscape Architect, Goshen, N.Y.; Interior Designer: Allied A.S.I.D. Interior Design, East Petersburg, Pa.
Future homes at Warwick Grove will have garages placed at the back of the house and accessed by a rear lane. Tucking the garage next to the courtyard will give homeowners covered access to the house via the rear porch while preserving views from the master bedroom. "Most production houses assume you have to exit the garage through the kitchen, which landlocks so many of the rooms," says architect Donald Powers. "A porch connection gives the house a ton of character."