Residential Design

VOL.2 2018

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Page 7 of 75

S. Claire Conroy Editor-in-Chief No matter where you design or what you build, there's context to consider. Architects who design houses on large parcels of pristine land have to go looking for context—often to the natural surroundings of the site, the prevailing climate, and the wants and wishes of their cli- ents. However, architects who design houses in the city have volumes of context, codes, and regulations to digest, and often historic commissions to please or appease as well. Although the latter constraints seem like a hassle, I think, for the most part, they're forces for good. When a new house or a substantially renovated house is added to the existing fabric of a neighborhood, it has to measure up to the best of what's there. And for exacting, responsible designers, there's always room for improvement and invention, too. That sets the bar high, indeed—or it should. The next important consideration is, how much do you try to make your building fit in and how much do you aim for it to stand out? That's the nut of numerous arguments, injunc- tions, and court battles, for sure. But many bad outcomes can be stanched by approaching the neighborhood and other interested parties with sensitivity right from the start. In this issue, we look at prime examples of custom infill work. Our cover story delves into the first new house built in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood in 50 years. The process of getting it approved through a highly protective historic commission was not without pain, but the clients were smart and strategic in their choice of David Hacin, FAIA, as their architect. There was much pressure to get this right. Everyone was watching the new precedent David and his firm would set for the storied neighborhood. Would his new building tuck timidly into the row of old buildings on Chestnut Street, or would it assert its presence in some provocative way? Somehow, miraculously, his new townhouse design does neither. Like a responsible doctor, David understands that the primary goal of building in a historic city is to "do no harm." His special talent lies in absorbing what's lovely and wor- thy of preservation from our urban context and distilling those elements into handsome new architecture. Taking the medical analogy further, his specialty is a kind of cosmetic surgery—working artfully and precisely within the incredibly tight tolerances of a town- house façade, for instance. How does he pull this off? The answer is in his mindset from the inception. He's not afraid to look to the past for inspiration and beauty, and he knows his clients have modern requirements to satisfy, but he's also committed to building something that will last well beyond his lifetime. He loves modern architecture as much as the next architect, and all his work has to meet its rigorous standard, but David is designing and building for the long haul—not just for the past or the present, but for the future above all else. That's a humbling realization, one that puts hubris properly in its place. Pay It Forward EDITOR'S NOTE

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