2023 Master Design Awards: Detached Structure — BRONZE

by Emily Blackburn

Platt Builders

Ayer, Mass.

Location: Groton, Mass. | Project Cost: $478,410
Square Footage before: 0 | Square Footage after: 3,364

This c.1893 Antique Estate holds a secret sequestered behind tall fieldstone walls; a 4.5 acre park-like setting designed by the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmstead. As majestic as its setting, this landmark home retains old world grandeur that speaks to its historic integrity and, like many homes built in that era, lacked a proper garage for how we live and commute today. Therefore, the scope and objective were to build an architecturally significant structure that would keep that historic integrity yet give space for vehicles and property items.

The biggest challenge was to properly site the project without damaging the hundred-year-old trees where the new garage was going to be built. The estate already had a detached structure, a stone schoolhouse, so adding another structure needed to fit both aesthetics and not overwhelm the property. The solution was to choose an architecturally significant timber-frame barn crafted in New England which was modified to properly site. The barn was sited on a meaningful downhill slope, but to keep it from looking sunken into the grounds, engineering, steel beams, and steel decking were used to get an over/under garage. The design of the barn kept austere New England aesthetics, and the exterior was painted in a historic color, Barn Red.

The trees were protected, and the town was consulted to ensure that the significant landscaping features on the property remained pristine. The clients wanted free space for their children, so the upstairs loft was turned into a movie space, and the lowest level of the barn houses the clients’ tools and a gym. The barn also has a large horizontal wall where the client applied a playful graphic of a US rocket ship. Throughout the building, the children have hung hammocks which they move at will depending on where they want to hang out.

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