Welcome to the September issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us
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|Architectural Firm of the Month: Sean O'Kane AIA Architect|
Photo courtesy Barry A. Hyman
Sean O'Kane AIA, Architect P.C. is an architectural firm specializing in custom residential design, new homes, additions, renovations, and historic restoration. The firm, established in 1986, is located on historic Main Street in Ridgefield, CT and has worked on many diverse projects located throughout Connecticut, New York City and State and Rhode Island.
President and founder of the firm, Mr. O'Kane received his BSC Architecture from Queens University Belfast and his graduate degree in 1979 from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Scotland. Mr. O'Kane emigrated to the USA after graduation, working in New Hampshire on adaptive reuse and historic preservation projects. In 1981 he moved to Ridgefield, CT and after practicing in Rye with a firm for five years, left to establish his own firm. Mr. O'Kane is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Institute for Classical Architecture, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and has been a registered architect in Connecticut since 1983.
For more Information:http://www.sokaia.com
Photo courtesy Barry A. Hyman
There is an exquisite Georgian-style stone residence on Contentment Island in Darien, Connecticut that overlooks Long Island Sound. The new home was designed by architect Sean O'Kane with some very distinguishing features, the most prominent is its curved façade.
O'Kane explains, "The idea was that the curve on the front of the house would embrace visitors as they approached the house. It's something that we thought would be really unique rather than just doing a flat fronted Georgian-style home. Curves are always more complicated than straight lines, but we had a very good builder, E.M. Rose Builders Inc. in Branford, CT. They had an excellent crew of carpenters and masons, so they were up to the challenge."
Even though the property has magnificent views of Long Island Sound, O'Kane didn't want to place the house right on the water. He explains, "We deliberately held it back from the water so that when you drive up to it, you see the view. As the house evolves on the water side, there are a series of gables stepped back from one-another so that every room has a water view. The house looks out to the lighthouse on Long Island. It's really quite spectacular."
The homeowners liked the Georgian-style, so the obvious materials to use were stone, brick, limestone and slate. "The house is a combination of stone and brick with limestone trimming around the entranceways. We added brick accents to give it more of an antique appearance rather than just using one material. The chimneys rise up from the stone gables and gradually become more brick and less stone, until they reach the top where they are all just brick."
"We did a graduated slate roof on the house. One of the owner's requests was to have minimal maintenance. That's why we gravitated towards stone, brick and slate and used as little wood frame as possible to keep the maintenance down. We also chose these materials because it's such an exposed location. The house is sitting on ledge rock so the initial preparation for the house was quite involved. We had to blast out for a basement under the house and we had enough stone from the site that we were able to build a six foot high boundary wall around the entire property."
Even though O'Kane left his own unique mark on the house, the design was partially influenced by English Edwardian architecture. He explains, "I grew up in Ireland and was educated there and in Scotland, so I had the good fortune of growing up in an environment where this type of architecture was pretty abundant. I think that definitely was an influence."
The architecture of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania was also an influence. "We had books and photos of Chestnut Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia and we all made a trip down there - the builder, the owner, and us. We did a walking tour of some of the suburbs of Chestnut Hill where they use a lot of stone, particularly Wissahickon Mica schist. It has sort of a mica effect so when the sun hits it, there is a bit of a sparkle off the stone. It's quite beautiful. So the house and the stonework are really modeled on some of what we saw in Chestnut Hill."
Surrounding the house on Contentment Island, there are several existing barn structures that were restored. "We didn't want to build a house and then have a large garage attached to it, so we suggested to the owners that we create a one car garage that would look like a little guest cottage or a chauffeur's residence. So there's only a one car garage up near the house, but there is room for three more cars in the barn that is close to the house. Another barn on the property can accommodate another two cars, so there is ample garage parking."
The interior of the house has many unique details, with its wide archways between rooms, warm-toned woods and leaded glass windows. O'Kane explains, "We detailed the interior, the trim, the molding, and selected the different types of wood flooring. The windows and doors are all leaded glass. We used Bendheim's Glass which has a slightly wavy look and helps give the house an antique feeling. We tried to make the house open but we didn't want it to be just one large room, so that's why we introduced the trim details in the kitchen where you can look through the house, across the kitchen and out to the water. We wanted to define the spaces by creating those wide arches. We used antique oak beams on the ceiling and the cabinetwork is all butternut. It's all custom-made to our details."
O'Kane enjoyed working on the project. "It was a fabulous opportunity for us. We had great clients and a fabulous site. The homeowners were very happy with the outcome so they subsequently hired us to remodel their apartment in New York City. They've been great clients for ten years with our firm."
The stone residence on Contentment Island is an award winning home. It was featured on the cover of the Perfect Home Series book published in October, 2006 and was a finalist in the AIA CT Alice Washburn Awards competition.
|Helpful Links for Architects|
AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN)
The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:http://network.aia.org/cran
AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit:http://www.aia.org/practicing/groups/kc/AIAS076039
Architect Online's Continuing Education Center
Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:
Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:http://continuingeducation.construction.com
Architectural Record Discussion Forums
The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:http://construction.com/community/forums.aspx
CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture
CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: http://www.corarchitecture.org
The Green Meeting Industry Council
The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:http://www.greenmeetings.info
The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world. For more information visit: http://www.worldarchitecture.org
We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.
Liz Benton, Editor
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & NewsDevonian Stone of New York, Inc.
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