Beyond The Box

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This month’s issue of Architectural Digest features a house in Maine that is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on. It was done during the period in which I was a partner with my previous firm, Elliott Elliott Norelius Architecture. The owners are a vivacious couple whose energy is only eclipsed by that of their two dogs, Harvey and Sidney.  We worked together well over the course of several years, and there were many, many meetings where every single aesthetic and technical detail of the house and its construction was discussed. We each seemed to have a specific role to play, and the drama that unfolded in those meetings was complex, spirited, and often fun. The owners had an uncanny ability to see—and want to capitalize upon–new opportunities at every step in the design and construction process, and it kept the final design solution elusive. It required a great deal of flexibility and responsibility: I needed to be able to incorporate an evolving set of aesthetic and practical requirements, but in the end, I knew the house must have a sense of integration and resolution.  It taught me that a design concept should be “generous” enough to take changes along the way and still feel whole.  But it also taught me that the final physical reality of the house can become much richer with such a process.

The team of consultants and builders that worked on this project was phenomenal, but none more talented than Matthew O’Malia, the project architect, who has now launched his own office and is designing extremely energy-efficient housing in Maine, based on sophisticated sustainable building principles

The article in Architectural Digest was written by Susan Sheehan, an accomplished, Pulitzer-prize winning writer who has authored several books and been a long-time contributor to The New Yorker. She conducted three long interviews with me when writing the story—as well as having additional conversations with the owners, and it was rewarding to witness her investigative ability to get to something beyond the obvious.

In the “Projects” section of my website, you’ll see a selection of photos of the house (House on Penobscot Bay) taken by the talented Paul Warchol,, as well as a list of some of the collaborators on the project.

Jenn Shore