Architecture through the ages has been categorised into various styles, but good design stands the test of time. Surber, Barber, Choate and Hertlein Architects(SBCH) designs projects that form the perfect amalgamation of old-world charm and modern design. The firm is involved in preservation and restoration projects. Local materials are dressed in contemporary ways to create a unifying harmony with the site. Intersecting planes and wooden panels are common design elements in their projects. Emphasis on the building’s response to its place and time forms the underlying design philosophy of SBCH.
1. House in the Berkshires
The timber abode rests on a serene hillside overlooking fields. The interplay between the rubble stone masonry and the timber construction sets the earthy tone of the residence. The angled roof is an abstraction of mountain slopes. The solid stone walls open out to by double-height curtain walls and corner windows. The home has expressive structural members like the Y-shaped wooden columns and the exposed rafters. The planning incorporates the existing topography leading to varied levels and projecting balconies.
2. House Near Monterrey
An array of concrete planes of varying sizes form an elegant composition of spatial design. Spaces seamlessly blend from interior to exterior through glass walls. The projecting post and lintel structures help define the bay windows and seating nooks situated throughout. The materials used are in their natural state showing the prioritisation of the spatial element over ornamental aesthetics. Exposed wooden beams and timber window frames add a touch of warmth to the neutral palette. The house with its open elevations acts as a vista to view the city below. There is an equal share of private courtyards and landscaping which create a more intimate environment within.
3. Cliff House
The house rises from the rocky outcrop of the site. The highly contoured site poses a design challenge, which has been overcome by the segmentation of the house into blocks. The highlights of the project are the floating walkways and chiselled rock stairs. These elements preserve the indigenous landscape and create the feeling of walking through a nature trail. The jagged rock bed is contrasted well by the plain white walls of the house, the walls seemingly creating a blank palette for the rocky display. The balconies project onto the steep vegetation clad slopes, giving a taste of how it is to be “living on the edge”.
4. House in Naples
Spanish villa meets modern elegance in this Florida residence. On entering one is greeted by the barrel tile roofs and the line of windows. The interiors are cosy with low set ceilings, ivory walls, and wooden accents. Warmly lit domes and winding staircases add to the dramatic flair of the residence. The spatial planning takes notes from traditional villas, incorporating compartmentalised rooms around a central courtyard. The central pool courtyard is modernistic, as it mirrors the surrounding colonnade and the sky. The elevated glass roof creates a sense of the pool being larger than life and breaks free from the close-knit interior spaces.
5. House in Mountain Brook
The linear nature of the building volumes ensures that the spaces are always connected and open to their exteriors. Large windows open out and the interiors are lit naturally. The lower floor opens out onto the pool patio. The rectilinear pool can also be viewed from the skywalk hovering above it. The narrow spaces and open planning of the building reduce the need for ancillary spaces like corridors and walkways. As one walks across the ground floor, dining transforms into living which then becomes the patio. The volumes are defined by sleek black structural elements.
6. House near LA
The house is located along a water body. What’s interesting to see is the contrasting treatment of the façade at opposite ends of the site. The frontage of the building facing the road has a single opening to provide privacy. Whereas the side facing the water has movable glass walls. They enable the balconies to be inherent to the floor plate rather than projecting elements, removing the divide between the interior and exterior. The angled balcony wall increases seating space. It also works to create a bold statement along the water’s edge.
7. House by the Marsh
The House by the Marsh has a striking skin and bones structure. The long double-height space of the living room is set amidst the verdant landscape and provides views of the marsh on one side. It is impressive how despite its transparent nature, the glass curtain wall is the most eye-catching element of the house. The high ceiling is accented with SBCH’s characteristic square wooden panelling. The low rubble masonry walls run across the landscape. Warm grey timber planks on the exterior match the suburban aesthetic.
8. Hotel indigo
The Hotel Indigo building appears to be a large-scale version of a conventional gable house. The twin roofs are distinct and can be spotted from a distance. Bright red projections vertically line the windows and add a pop of colour to the dark walls. The pitched roofs and the board siding on the walls are reminiscent of the local architecture. The hotel’s interior, however, speaks a different story. Curved walls and circular drop ceilings help in creating a fluid and dynamic space inside.
9. Tribute Lofts
The Tribute Lofts is a mixed-use project. The building volumes have been designed to suit their respective programmes. The tall block is for residences, enabling more residences under a limited floor area and providing the residents with unparalleled views of the city’s skyline. The retail and office units have been spread across a lower but wider building footprint. This enables more visibility to pedestrians and creates a human scale to the building. The offices also have small balconies facing the street. The colour palette is industrial with shades of grey and curtain walls.
10. Winshape Center
The Winshape Center is an adaptive reuse project for a corporate retreat. The site originally had a functioning dairy farm. The reuse involved refurbishing the interiors to host dining halls and rooms. The original buildings were in the form of farmland structures with pitched roofs which have been retained. The interiors have utilised the existing double height barns to create dens and community rooms. The crisscrossed wooden trusses and the rafters add to the rustic feel and have been complemented by the addition of ringed chandeliers.
11. Ponce City Center
The Ponce City Centre was a refurbishment project. An old brick-walled distribution centre has been converted into a lively public space. The existing industrial interiors with the metal staircases and the exposed metal beams have been retained and add to the grunge look. The large space has been designed to work as an interior high street with ornamental shopfronts. Interstitial spaces such as back alleys have been converted into restaurant nooks. The surroundings have been designed with landscape and walkways to create a public plaza.
12. Cherokee Town Club
SBCH has been involved in the master planning and expansion of the renowned club. Designing in line with its long heritage, the dining halls extensively use wooden panelling and the coffered wooden domes. Metal chandeliers and lamps are added as accents. The lavish wooden panelling is broken by the arched windows with intricate mullions. A central island forms the focus of the room. Exposed wooden trusses and beams fill up the high ceilings. The design ensures that the club does not lose its old-world charm in the modern-day.
13. Piedmont Golf Clubhouse
The Golf Clubhouse seems to be straight out of a painting of the countryside. It is located amidst the undulating golf greens and has been designed with large pitched roofs and stone walls. The clubhouse was built as a subsidiary of the existing Piedmont Driving Club. Its design is quite traditional to showcase the heritage of the club, but to an experienced eye, it yields features of different European styles – Tudor and Gothic. Segmented stone arches, bay windows and the rubble masonry walls are characteristic elements of these styles. Large floor height windows provide daylighting as well as views of the golf greens.
14. Baby Brathwaite Store
SBC+H was involved in the adaptive reuse of a brick building being converted into a children’s retail store. The entire store has been converted into a white wonderland including the brick front of the existing building. The interiors are also completely made white from floor to ceiling, thereby hiding the industrial remnants of the building. The white colour creates a feeling of spaciousness and acts as a neutral background for the displayed items, which seem to be highlighted in the white setting. Two topiary figures greet visitors at the entry adding to the whimsical vibe of the store.
15. Robinson Pavilion
The Robinson Pavilion was designed to enhance the footfall of the botanical garden. The Pavilion manages to hold its ground amidst the towering glass buildings around it. The minimalist design complements the surrounding landscape. A flight of stairs ascends into the open structure. The design is simple with the white block walls being contrasted with the black metal framing. It overlooks the garden and provides a venue for small gatherings. This project goes to show how a small architectural intervention can provide opportunities for a public space.