An Architect’s Vision Brings Us Back to the Future
by Rick Reynolds
When sister and brother owner/builders, Louise and Richard Brodman, bought land on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, they shared a grand artistic vision to develop the property. Louise, an architect, came to Bensonwood with Sketchup drawings for two highly unusual outbuildings: one, a striking, 60’ elliptically-roofed “garden” shed, with angled walls designed to mimic a giant log, and the other, a prominent, double-building garage, also replete with facets and curves.
The two visionary outbuildings, made with Nordic engineered wood, will be used to house tractors and other garden equipment. Eventually the structures will be accompanied by two cottages (not shown), to be built with SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) by Foard Panel. One of the cottages has an artist studio connected by a Nordic engineered wood skywalk.
Starting with the “garden” shed, Nordic Lam arches in the form of half ellipses, curve all the way to the ground, supporting the roof, while also creating two porch-like areas between the roof overhangs and canted CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) walls. The covered-porch areas will be used to store firewood.
In this modern re-interpretation of the Quonset hut, a second, intersecting elliptical overhang, perpendicular to the main arches, breaks up what would have been a massive elliptical volume and leads the eye into a similarly arched picture window. The arch timbers twist as they traverse the opening and then attach into the main arches. The roofing underlayment, comprised of 3X8 staggered Nordic decking, will be attached, one-by-one, laterally, on site. A narrow, single-piece, 40-foot long extruded triangular skylight, made by Wasco, will bring natural light into the structure. The large doors at either end of the structure will be hydraulically controlled with mechanisms that open them up and out. The entire project will be covered on the exterior with metal roofing and siding.
The double-building garage, with connector, is similarly unconventional. Utilizing angles and curves of its own, the garage, though very different in appearance, relates to the shed in a reverse kind of way. Here, the curves are subordinated to the facets. As with the shed, the garage walls, too, are canted 80 degrees, and the roof sections—in the form of planes—are canted as well, sloping up front-to-back as well as side-to-center. A canted and curved internal wall forms one end of the connector. CLT panel overhangs cover the two glass-infilled areas on either side of the connector—one, the entry—connecting the two main forms of the garage and making them one.
Nordic Lam timbers are used for rafters, posts, and beams, 2X8 Nordic decking with a layer of ZIP sheathing for the roof underlayment, and CLT panels for the walls. There is also one large CLT cantilever part of the roof system. As with the shed, two outsized, hydraulically operated garage doors on pivotal arms will open up and out.
Like the building designs themselves, the building methodologies are at the same time, both futuristic and traditional. Virtual modeling and building, CNC machining, off-site fabrication, advanced wood materials like FSC certified Nordic Lams and CLTs, and Old World craft, all converged to make this artist’s vision a reality.
Design/Drafting: Butch DeLuca
Engineers: Annette Dey (independent consultant) & Chris Carbone
Building Systems: Jay Lepple & Justin Killeen
Project Steward: Kerry Uhler
Timberframe/ Dennis Marcom