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The Right Track

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With nearly a half century of architectural experience, Peter Cohen designed this ingenious spine-and-module home for him and his wife Sally in the coastal forests just outside Ellsworth, Maine.

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  Cohen and his wife, Sally, sit in the dining room, which along with the connected living room, is a focal point of the house, lighted in part by high, remote-controlled clerestory windows.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Cohen and his wife, Sally, sit in the dining room, which along with the connected living room, is a focal point of the house, lighted in part by high, remote-controlled clerestory windows.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The entryway to Maison Amtrak owes a debt to Japanese architecture, a touchstone of Peter Cohen’s career.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The entryway to Maison Amtrak owes a debt to Japanese architecture, a touchstone of Peter Cohen’s career.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Cohen's bedroom is clipped onto one end of the house, just across from Sally’s bedroom. A door to the left of the bed leads into his spacious bathroom, where he cleans up after long, muddy hikes in the woods with his golden retriever, Daisy.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Cohen's bedroom is clipped onto one end of the house, just across from Sally’s bedroom. A door to the left of the bed leads into his spacious bathroom, where he cleans up after long, muddy hikes in the woods with his golden retriever, Daisy.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Viewed from a good distance down the slope running to the Union River, the Maison Amtrak is clearly oriented toward the river. The deck is sheltered from the neighbors’ view by Cohen’s bedroom to the right and the living room at left.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Viewed from a good distance down the slope running to the Union River, the Maison Amtrak is clearly oriented toward the river. The deck is sheltered from the neighbors’ view by Cohen’s bedroom to the right and the living room at left.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Classic mid-century furniture like the Eames lounge chair in Cohen’s bedroom populate the home, a nod to his long life in architecture.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Classic mid-century furniture like the Eames lounge chair in Cohen’s bedroom populate the home, a nod to his long life in architecture.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  One of the coziest nooks in the house is in the living room, a window seat where Cohen sits and reads. Because the large glass window in the living room is fixed, the smaller one opens to allow cross breezes and ventilation.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    One of the coziest nooks in the house is in the living room, a window seat where Cohen sits and reads. Because the large glass window in the living room is fixed, the smaller one opens to allow cross breezes and ventilation.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Sally waters the row of geraniums, keeping the bright red security barrier marking the edge of the deck in full bloom.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Sally waters the row of geraniums, keeping the bright red security barrier marking the edge of the deck in full bloom.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  A pair of LC2 chairs by Le Corbusier are ideal spots for watching the river down below. The Womb chair by Eero Saarinen is a close second.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    A pair of LC2 chairs by Le Corbusier are ideal spots for watching the river down below. The Womb chair by Eero Saarinen is a close second.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The central spine of the house jogs left to include the kitchen, which eventually leads out to the garage. Cohen tried to keep the garage relatively small, claiming many Americans give their cars the best spot in the house.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The central spine of the house jogs left to include the kitchen, which eventually leads out to the garage. Cohen tried to keep the garage relatively small, claiming many Americans give their cars the best spot in the house.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The bottom floor of Maison Amtrak hosts Cohen’s office, a guest room that doubles as Sally's office, the mechanical systems, and storage space. Though the bottom floor is set below grade, windows look out just a few feet above the ground, allowing lots of light in.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The bottom floor of Maison Amtrak hosts Cohen’s office, a guest room that doubles as Sally's office, the mechanical systems, and storage space. Though the bottom floor is set below grade, windows look out just a few feet above the ground, allowing lots of light in.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Cohen was once a pilot and his office houses the ephemera of decades spent flying around New York and New England.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Cohen was once a pilot and his office houses the ephemera of decades spent flying around New York and New England.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  A series of long stairs leads to Maison Amtrak, which is set below street level. The entranceway demonstrates Cohen’s love of Japanese design with a geometric simplicity matched only by the formal elegance of the stained Douglas fir two-by-fours.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    A series of long stairs leads to Maison Amtrak, which is set below street level. The entranceway demonstrates Cohen’s love of Japanese design with a geometric simplicity matched only by the formal elegance of the stained Douglas fir two-by-fours.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  There is a precipitous drop off the deck at Maison Amtrak, though the sloping site meant that either serious excavation or a bit of caution would be needed. The Cohens opted to play it safe, and have a planter of red geraniums that guard the edge of the deck.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    There is a precipitous drop off the deck at Maison Amtrak, though the sloping site meant that either serious excavation or a bit of caution would be needed. The Cohens opted to play it safe, and have a planter of red geraniums that guard the edge of the deck.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  Maison Amtrak, Peter and Sally Cohen's home, is the latest of five spine and module houses he's designed. Clipping rooms, decks and the garage onto a central spine makes Cohen's designs high adaptable to different sites.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    Maison Amtrak, Peter and Sally Cohen's home, is the latest of five spine and module houses he's designed. Clipping rooms, decks and the garage onto a central spine makes Cohen's designs high adaptable to different sites.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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  The lower level of Maison Amtrak has two studies, storage space and houses the mechanical equipment for the house. The two bathrooms upstairs are directly over the mechanical services, keeping cost and noise down.  Photo by: Mark Mahaney
    The lower level of Maison Amtrak has two studies, storage space and houses the mechanical equipment for the house. The two bathrooms upstairs are directly over the mechanical services, keeping cost and noise down.

    Photo by: Mark Mahaney

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