Bainbridge Island, Wash., architect Jim Cutler is no doubt accustomed to working in freer architectural environments than the New York City suburb of Purchase, N.Y. With few exceptions, he says, “If you're looking for intense formality … you couldn't do better than Purchase.” But Cutler proves his adaptability in this new family residence, employing appropriately formal means to address client needs, site issues, and cultural context.

The primary challenge was to provide views and outdoor access while buffering the noise of a nearby interstate highway. Cutler's design begins with an H-shaped plan comprising two parallel north-south wings holding private spaces and a connecting wing of communal spaces. The plan forms large, protected courtyards at the north and south, toward which all three wings turn their outward attention. Cutler carved two additional courtyards out of the two parallel wings, extending the building's long east-west axis.

The building's material palette draws heavily on the densely laid bluestone that forms its landscape walls and girds its outward-facing elevations. The same material figures prominently inside the house, though in a more refined form. “As the stone walls slide into the building we polish them,” Cutler says. The remainder of the finish schedule consists of steamed beech and pear wood casework, red oak floors, and exposed Douglas fir framing members.

Our judges found much to like in this house, calling it “well resolved” and “very disciplined.” And while they appreciated the architect's skill in solving a particular set of design problems, they noted that the results transcend mere problem solving, calling the resulting building “a little like architecture as sculpture.”

Project Credits
Prutting & Co. Custom Builders, New Canaan, Conn.
Architect: Cutler Anderson Architects, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Living space: 9,800 square feet
Site: 3 acres
Construction cost: Withheld
Photographer: Art Grice

Product Resources
Bathroom plumbing fittings/fixtures: Dornbracht, Toto; Dishwasher: Miele; Entry/patio doors: Dynamic Window & Door Co.; HVAC equipment: Carrier; Insulation: Icynene; Kitchen plumbing fittings: Dornbracht; Oven: Wolf; Paints: Benjamin Moore; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero; Windows: U.S. Aluminum Curtain Wall.