2017 Builder's Choice & Custom Home Design Awards
Project of the Year
Award-winning architects Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake are known for designing stunning homes on difficult sites, and the Pound Ridge Residence in Westchester County, N.Y., is a perfect example of their handiwork. They were led by clients who were drawn to the sense of tranquility they felt on their first visit to its heavily forested spot, a south-facing, boulder-strewn escarpment that rises over 100 feet from a wetland to the top of a ridge.
The owners’ mandate to the architects was simple but challenging: They wanted to live in a house in the woods where the presence of the forest would be felt indoors in open, airy spaces. The first step for the design team from Philadelphia-based KieranTimberlake, a winner of last year’s Wm. S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence award, was to select a place to anchor the 5,250-square-foot structure within the steeply sloped glacial terrain. The architects chose to site the home on the ridge itself, which sits above two rock-enclosed “rooms” and a small ravine that carries water from a crevice in the ridge to the wetland below.
They placed three shifting volumes within the rock rooms that gently respond to the site’s natural slopes and plateaus. New stone walls interact with the existing stone ledges, and tightly constructed SIP enclosures allow for strategic slices in the envelope, opening up the interior to select views of the landscape. The measured and judicious use of wood-framed triple-light glazing minimizes thermal transfer “weak spots” and strategically orients glazing to benefit from seasonal heat rejection or gain.
As a result, the house gains solar heat and retains it very efficiently during the winter. During the warmer months, apertures oriented for cross-ventilation greatly reduce the need for mechanical cooling. The judges raved about the home’s striking exterior, which is composed of a variety of materials including zinc-coated copper, brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel, and glass, each chosen for the way they create a reflection of the rugged landscape.
“The reflectivity in the facade is gorgeous. It just shimmers,” said juror Christiana Moss. At every turn, inside and out, the 2017 Project of the Year brilliantly meets the clients’ original mission of expanding their connection to the natural world. “To see architects pursue all these stellar sustainable features and then add this incredibly delicate and intricate design and material finish that integrates sustainability into an aesthetic concept is quite compelling,” said juror Timothy Lock. "It’s a piece of art.” — J.G.
“A compelling project that’s integrated into the landscape in an incredibly subtle, contextual way. I’m envious that I didn’t design it.” - Juror Sebastian Schmaling
From the builders. The site for this home is a south-facing, boulder-strewn escarpment that rises over a hundred feet, from a wetland to the top of a ridge. The owners were drawn to the almost magical sense of tranquility they felt upon their first visit to this heavily forested land, striped with loose-laid fieldstone farm walls from the nineteenth century. Their mandate to the architectural team was simple but not simplistic: they wanted to live in a "house in the woods, of the woods"—to feel the presence of the forest indoors—and to commune quietly with nature and visit with guests within naturally lit, open, airy, warm rooms. Selecting the "site within the site" was the first challenge of design. The first and most important act of design was selecting the place to anchor the home within the steeply sloped glacial terrain. We were immediately drawn to the ridge itself. Just beneath it were two rock-enclosed “rooms”—one positioned below with another space adjoining it above. Separating these was a small ravine, carrying water from a crevice in the ridge to the wetland below. Within the rock rooms, we placed three shifting volumes that gently respond to the site's natural slopes and plateaus. The fit of the volumes of the house within these rock enclosures is snug. New stone walls engage the existing stone ledges and boulders in a dialogue that speaks to the forces of nature and man as shapers of place. In response to the dramatic natural scenery, the house itself employs an economy of design that focuses on harmony with the landscape and elemental materiality.