Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design create a Western Massachusetts retreat that is buried in its lakeside landscape.
New York City fashion executive Laura Beasley and musician Pieter Voorhees approached Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design to create a second home in the Berkshires that would be intimately embedded in the landscape. Principal architects Jeff Taylor and B. Alex Miller conceptualized a design composed of horizontal and vertical "sleeves" that would facilitate environmental views. In stark contrast to the neighboring homes, Taylor and Miller’s creation embraces an abstract aesthetic, directing focus toward the lake instead of the architecture.
As the home is approached from the street, the white aluminum facade projects out from the earth in an abstract composition of forms and volumes. There are no doors or windows at the entrance from the road, a calculated decision by the design team to avoid a structure that would read as manmade against the natural landscape. “We wanted it to feel ‘non-architectural’ in a way so that the natural view of the lake was not walled off by a privatized notion of someone’s home,” says Miller.
On the opposite side of the abstract front elevation, the home opens up and presents an entirely different viewing experience. “Like a flower leaning [towards the] sunlight, the architectural volumes pull and open up towards the views of the lake,” says Miller. A stacked timber retaining wall serves both structural and aesthetic functions; in addition to holding back the earth the home has been buried into, it visually defines the its perimeter.
At the entry looking upward towards a Velux skylight, a vertical "sleeve" is made of stacked end grain plywood. The theme of vertical and horizontal architectural elements providing different environmental perspectives carries through to the rest of the home. Horizontal forms look out to the lake, while the vertical columns look up the sky.
The clients and design team chose to forego an open floor plan in favor of defined, separated spaces. In this scheme, the vertically oriented spaces act as a cinematic "hard-cut" to their horizontal counterparts. The custom hot rolled steel kitchen, one of these vertical transition spaces, receives light from above through a Velux skylight. A GE Profile Induction cooktop and oven and Miele refrigerator complete the space.
The smaller transitional areas of the home were more about pure form, space, and vertical light. These areas favored a material-heavy palette, in contrast with the horizontal spaces, which showcase a more neutral aesthetic. Beasley played an active role in deciding the materials and layout of the home. In the dining room, for example, the neutral space is a gallery-like backdrop for a few of the owners’ pieces.
Miller explains, “Every material and spatial decision we make in one space affects the entire home,” a design philosophy warmly embraced by the owners.
Windows by Berkshire plate glass offer unobstructed views of the lake from the sunroom. Inside, a chain found by the owners accents the light-filled space.
The second floor master bedroom opens up to a wraparound deck. Its relationship to the lake is the owners’ favorite part of the home. Warm wood floors and Schoolhouse Electric lights finish the space.
Part of the master suite, the bright bathroom embraces texture and pattern. The space clad in bold, graphic tile and features a custom steel vanity.
The home’s reflection is seen in the lake at dusk. The white aluminum sleeves dramatically break through the timber, creating visual portals to the surrounding scenery.