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Get Back, Inc. Reworks The Elegance Of The Industrial Age

Adjustable dining table.

By CB Wismar

The Industrial Age has returned to Kent, Conn. in the newly opened Get Back, Inc. gallery in the Kent Barns. Tim Byrne, the founder and designer, melds the relics of old industry with the post-industrial world of art and design. At Get Back, the remains of the industrial past become reborn as dramatic furniture and engaging pieces of art.

“We make new art on old ground,” cites Byrne who emigrated with his family from Ireland and worked his way from carpenter to antique dealer to furniture designer and fabricator. “I started by collecting mid-century furniture and selling it in New York flea markets. I realized I had a decent eye for good design.” 

On those visits, some items continued to capture his attention. They were far from the mid-century grace of pieces by Aalto and Saarinen and Eames. The objects of his fascination were cast iron industrial forms, derelict reminders of the age of heavy machinery and forged iron fittings.

Propeller blade sculpture.

For Byrne, however, these unique bits and pieces were a challenge. “I wondered how I could work with them… redesign them to become heritage pieces of functional art,” he says. 

The creative process began. Brushes taken from an old conveyor belt became a framed piece of art. An aluminum blade from a pulp paper mill was polished and set upright to be soaring sculpture in the fashion of Brancusi. A geared frame from a lumber mill became the base of a glass-topped dining table.

Byrne started offering his re-imagining of industrial forms and fittings 20 years ago. At first, he’d travel all over the country to industrial auctions, looking for pieces that could be carefully taken apart, cleaned and rebuilt into something fresh and engaging. As the word spread both nationally and internationally, “pickers” started coming to Byrne, bringing the best of the past to become the art of the future.

(Not all of the pieces are immediately reworked, however. His inventory has been used to provide film-industry clients with authentic and period-accurate set designs, as seen in “Gotham,” “The Irishman,” “Boardwalk Empire” and others.)

Get Back, Inc. celebrates the enduring marriage of form and function that characterized 19th- and 20th-century American industry. It was “the Machine Age,” when industrial designers carefully created pieces that would maximize strength and durability while minimizing waste. Curves, tapers and balance were all factored into the creation of pieces that would function while minimizing the need for too much costly iron and steel.

Tim Byrne

When the simple elegance reminiscent of the “Hanging Egg Chair,” introduced in 1959 by designers Nanna and Jorgen Ditzel, is supported from the imposing strength of the “Portable Crane from D. Round & Son, Cleveland, Ohio,” patented in 1904, Mid-Century meets the Machine Age and magic ensues.

There is a certain eclectic poetry about the collection gathered in Get Back, Inc.’s Kent showroom. A second presence for Tim Byrne, his base of operations will continue to be his workshop, warehouse and showroom in Oakville, Conn. Aaron Fagan, a poet in his own right, will manage the Kent showroom.

“We think Kent will be a fine place for us,” says Byrne from the egg chair. “This area has a grand tradition of iron mining and blast furnaces. We’re bringing the iron back… to live in a more genteel age.”

Get Back, Inc.
7 Fulling Lane in the Kent Barns, Kent, CT
Open until 5 p.m. Wednesday – Friday; until 6 p.m. Saturday & Sunday. 
(860) 274-9991

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/06/18 at 11:45 AM • Permalink

The Lawn House: A Private Place For Your Projects

By Jamie Larson

There are times when we all just need some space. The Lawn House by Clary Design (beginning operations in Housatonic, Mass. this summer) can be that space. Less involved and cluttered than a tiny home, and much more of a complete finished outbuilding than even the most modern shed, the Lawn House has been designed as an ideal space for creativity, relaxation, focus, or whatever else you can dream up.

Designer James Clary has had the Lawn House in the back of his mind ever since he worked for famed kinetic sculptor George Rickey as a young man. Rickey hosted many artists at his East Chatham, New York estate, and whether for creative or interpersonal reasons each had their own designated space on the property where they could focus on their work.

“Artists each had their own environment,” Clary said. “I became attracted to the potential of these small outbuildings.”

As Clary’s high-end contracting business has grown in the Berkshires over the years, the image of the Lawn House never left him. Last year he built the elegant, minimalist prototype and this year he’s stepping back (as much as possible) from the job site and into his Housatonic shop to focus on the production.

“The Lawn House has been a passion project for me for a long time,” Clary said. “It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s quick. We have a decent sized house but I often just want a comfortable, well-designed space of my own to get away. I can have that now.”

Lawn Houses start at around $20k and 8 by 12 feet. They are fully insulated, electrically wired, lit, heated and outfitted with large beautiful windows that help you feel secluded but not boxed in. While there will be set options when Lawn Houses are in full production, Clary will offer a range of customizable choices using unique, modern and green materials like state-of-the art siding from Richlite.

“We’ve sourced these great materials that you’re not going to find at Home Depot,” said Clary. “One of the things I think is great about the Lawn House is it gives you this contemporary look but you’re not committing to a wing off your house that doesn’t match regional Colonial architecture.”

Clary also pointed out that there are any number of commercial uses for the Lawn House, which sits on rollers. Since it can be loaded onto a trailer, you could bring a walk-in business or gallery to a festival, fair or farmers market, which Clary has already done with the prototype. He and project manager Jane Wright have been using the Lawn House as a sawdust-free office outside the workshop for a year now, in all seasons, and say it’s been a great addition.

Lawn Houses will also be available in different sizes, up to 10 by 16 feet, but the larger units would start to get pretty heavy if you wanted to move them often.

As much as the Lawn House is a highly optimized, functional space, what is most impressive is how, when you see it, the design and idea of it gets your imagination racing with all of the usage possibilities. It manages to be its own show-stopping piece of art in the yard and yet still a blank canvas to make of it what you will.

The Lawn House
(413) 232-0090

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 03/26/18 at 09:46 AM • Permalink

The High-Performance Home, Part 9: Move-In Ready

It’s been a little over a year since we began watching the building of an energy-efficient house in Egremont, Mass. The architects, Rona Easton and Lonn Combs of EASTON+COMBS, based in New Marlborough, Mass. allowed Rural Intelligence to look over their shoulders (and those of their client) throughout the construction process of a high-performance home. Here, finally, is the concluding installment of the series that taught us the importance of ventilated facades, smart membranes, triple-glazed windows — and commitment to quality and excellence in construction.

The Egremont house is complete and occupied. The heavy layer of insulation (over twice that required by the building code) and extreme air tightness (double the code requirement) should serve our client well during what seems to be shaping up to be a very cold winter. The energy efficiency, as evidenced by the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating, is almost twice as good as that required by the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code, which stipulates an even higher efficiency than the national building code. In the final reckoning, this was achieved with barely any cost premium compared to a similar standard of house that only meets code re-quirements, and without sacrificing the benefits of daylight from large areas of glazing. 

We are very happy with the end result. Building a house is a big undertaking, but everyone involved was committed to producing an excellent product, and our client now has a beautiful, low-maintenance, low-energy house that will continue to pay back for decades to come.

View from the north toward main house, studio/garage building and connecting entrance bridge; view of the south approach and entrance bridge.

Interior view of the main living space with large glazed sliding doors; interior view of the main living space, with skylight and view to woods through glazed sliding doors.

Interior view of the main living space and entrance.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/01/18 at 08:21 PM • Permalink

Going Home For The Holidays: House Tours In Hudson And Kent

‘Tis the season for touring historical houses, and our region has those in spades. On December 9 and 10, folks in Hudson, New York and Kent, Conn. can set off for fundraising tours that will showcase the transition in architectural styles over many decades and highlight the history of the areas. And the properties will be dressed in their holiday finery, adding to the festive nature of these tours.

Hudson Holiday House Tour
Saturday, Dec. 9, 2-5 p.m.

It’s impossible to walk around Hudson and not marvel at the architecture and the impossibly charming homes. The 2017 Holiday House Tour is hosted by the Hudson Lodging Association and will honor and support the Hudson Children’s Book Festival.

Each stop on the tour is a functioning inn or bed and breakfast, and filled with interesting factoids. The earliest home, for instance, shows up on a deed dated 1709 before Hudson even existed. It was called Claverack (“field of white clover”) Landing. By 1792, when another house on the tour was built, Hudson was the 24th largest city in the U.S. (thank you, Hudson River).

Included on the tour are The Barlow, Westcott House, Croff House, Inn at 34, Hudson B&B and Wm. Farmer & Sons. A map/guidebook will inform you about each property.

Advance tickets are $20/person; tickets purchased on the day of the event are $25. To purchase tickets, check the website.

Kent Holiday Historic House Tour
Sunday, Dec. 10, noon to 4:30 p.m.

Kent’s tour, a fundraiser for the Kent Historical Society, will showcase seven private homes that exude the Colonial era.

“We are fortunate in Kent to have several Colonial-era buildings that were characteristic of early Connecticut vernacular architecture,” says Bruce Whipple, a member of the Kent Historical Society’s Board of Trustees. “Many of these house have been ‘accumulative,’ as they’ve seen 19th, 20th and 21st century additions and alterations.”

Some of the homes are located in the Kent Hollow section of town, and while the Society is keeping the owner names and locations under wraps until the day of the tour, we were able to pry a few facts about the structures from tour organizers.

One of the oldest homes on the tour has a title that dates back to 1739, the same year the town of Kent was incorporated. The home’s original foundation measured only 22 by 20 feet. Another dates back to 1716 and was part of a tract of land purchased from Chief Waramaug. The final home on the tour has an example of a space used as a primitive sleeping loft on its second floor, a common floor plan in the earliest homes in Kent.

The tour begins at the Swift House, where day-of-tour tickets can be purchased and maps will be available. Afterwards, tour-goers can meet back at Swift House for a festive gathering around the wassail bowl.

Advance tickets are available for $45; day-of-tour tickets are $60. You can purchase tickets here or at the Heron Gallery, Kent Wine & Spirit, and the Kent Town Clerk’s office.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 11/27/17 at 10:18 AM • Permalink

A Hudson Success: David DeSantis, Blacksmith Extraordinaire

Photos courtesy of David DeSantis.

By Jamie Larson

The metal work of David DeSantis is astonishing in quality, variety of style and application. That’s why we were dismayed to see his Hudson, New York gallery close earlier this summer. Thankfully, DeSantis is still happy to work in and around the little city he says changed his life.

“It was extremely sad to close the gallery. I love, love Hudson,” said DeSantis from his home in Sylvan Lake, New York. “It’s crazy how things evolve. When you tell people about Hudson it sounds like such a strange place but I’ve never been to any place where I was happier. I plan on coming back soon, maybe not with a full gallery of my own, but I want to have a presence there.”

The reason DeSantis closed his shop, he said, is it brought him so much work that he didn’t have time to run the storefront. It was through the gallery that he met some of his biggest and most well-known clients, including the likes of men’s designer John Varvatos, architect/interior designer Michael Davis and architect Michael Bird. He also created a breathtaking bench for Olana, which was auctioned off for more than $17,000 to support the historic site. His appeal here and everywhere is obvious — he seems to be able to do absolutely anything with metal whether it’s modern, medieval, art deco, sculptural or anything in between.

“I studied it all but it’s always my customers that push me in new directions,” DeSantis said. “As a craftsman you have to remove yourself and love what your clients love.”

Another aspect that sets DeSantis apart is that when he’s reproducing a historic style in his workshop he’ll only use tools that were available during that period in order to add to the authenticity. Sometimes that means using coal to power his furnace.


David DeSantis, Amy Creedon and Ryan DeSantis with their brilliant bench for Olana.

“A client will ask for a specific style and for me it’s all about testing my own ability. If they want me to replicate a specific work I call it, ‘concurring the artist.’ I reproduce their style but with my flair. For instance, I do a ‘refined (Alberto) Giacometti.’”

DeSantis is currently working on a massive railing for a private home — part of the reason he doesn’t have time for the gallery right now. The huge piece, which wraps around a four-story indoor tree in a private Adirondack home, tells the story of nature in forged steel and bronze, and is codifying his personal artistic vision. Its completion will launch the next chapter of his career, “David DeSantis the artist.”

The first chapter in his life with metal began with a job as a welder for a structural steel company. Then, in 1996, he was hit by a drunk driver and spent a year and seven months in a body brace. It was devastating: his young family had to rely on public assistance and he was unable to do just about anything except read about art and architecture.

“I made up my mind,” DeSantis said. “I told my wife (Jeanne) ‘if I ever work again I want to be a blacksmith.’”

When he recovered he bought some tools and went about teaching himself the craft. In 1998 he opened his first shop and hired Amy Creedon, a metal sculptor, when she was fresh out of college. The combination of his experience and her traditional education and artistry made for an immediately successful partnership.

“She taught me a lot,” DeSantis said. “I love the mind and eye of a woman. I trust her instincts.”

They worked on some major private homes in the South and with furniture designer Gordon Plummer. DeSantis’ business grew quickly through word of mouth.

“I’m really focused on quality,” he said. “I always want to do better and ask myself, ‘how do I get to the next level?”’

Eventually, he came back to New York and worked with the top builders in the Lake Placid area including Campion Platt. He was extremely busy until 2008, when the recession hit.

“By the end of 2009 I ran out of work and had to lay everyone off, including Amy,” he recalled. “I sat in the shop in tears. I felt sorry for myself for a week and then I said, ‘Okay, what can I build?’”

So he built a table and sold it to a former client for $10,000. For the next few years he supported his family by making one piece of furniture at a time. He was able to build the company back up and he rehired Creedon. On a delivery to New York City in 2012, a client introduced him to the art and design scene in Hudson.

“I fell madly in love with Hudson,” he said, noting that at the time he was still really just getting by. “I knew that if I could just open a gallery in Hudson we’d be so much further ahead.”

It was an expensive risk, in 2014, but it paid off the first year. Designers and architects shopping on Warren Street immediately saw how fantastic and versatile DeSantis’ work was. That’s how he met Varvatos, who now relies on DeSantis when he needs metal work in any of his shops or his own private home.

By 2017 there was just so much work coming in that it was time to close the gallery. In only three years in Hudson, DeSantis went from living project to project, to being one of the most sought-after blacksmiths in the nation. Despite his success (including a recent feature on HGTV) DeSantis speaks humbly about his abilities and graciously about his clients.

“What I’m working on now is all my own design and that is really meaningful,” he said. “I’m also training my son now, as well, which is rewarding. I feel like my life is very complete.”

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 08/07/17 at 10:09 AM • Permalink

Tomorrow’s House Today: Hillsdale Tour Goes Contemporary

By Amy Krzanik

You can “step back into the past” by viewing historical artifacts or touring ruins and relics, but can you travel forward into the future? I would argue that you can, and you can do it next weekend, on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Hillsdale, New York. The Hillsdale Historic House Tour Committee has turned its popular tour on its head and this year will offer glimpses into six “Historic Houses of the Future.”

The committee, whose last tour was held in 2014, previously had featured homes located along the same street for easy viewing. But, as with all historic things, they’re not making any new ones and a member suggested focusing on contemporary “green” homes instead.

“We had two criteria,” says committee member Meg Wormley. “The homes had to be excellent examples of 21st century design and/or renovation, and they had to be energy efficient.”

You’ll need a car for this year’s venture, but you’ll be rewarded with some fine architectural specimens, and all the behind-the-scenes information, to boot. In two cases, the owners of the houses are the architects and they’ll be there to talk about their designs. Another owner will be on hand to discuss the green aspects of his home and will even take guests into the basement to see how it all works.

A box lunch from Simons Catering is included in the $40 tour price and will be served under a tent at the Roe-Jan Library, itself a “green” building. During lunch, architects from Hudson-based firm BarlisWedlick will give the talk “Classic and Modern: Designing Homes in Columbia County for the 21st Century.” Proceeds from the tour will go toward the preservation of the East Gate Toll House on Rt. 22 in Hillsdale, and provide funding to repair and maintain some of the historic cemeteries in the town.

So, without further ado, let’s meet our homes:

1. Designed by architect Joel Turkel, whose Axiom houses are customized pre-fabs that use minimal material and energy to build, this sleek, energy-efficient home utilizes geo-thermal and solar panels.

2. Architect Bruce Coldham designed this home which was built by the owners, Steven and Kathy Bluestone. It’s been certified by the Passive House Institute US, a highly sought but very difficult certification to earn. The home was built using autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks, which are up to 75% lighter than conventional concrete blocks and are superior thermal insulators. In addition to being passive, the home is “energy positive,” meaning the house produces more energy than it requires annually.

3. This window-filled home, inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and fully realized by the owner-architect and his wife, is a stylish contemporary with a commanding mountain view, a pond with a story of its own and a whimsical interior.

4. This glass cabin in the woods, a lifelong dream of the architect-owner, blends the work of the California modernists with the charm of a single-pitch roof popular on local barns. Sixteen glass doors line the long sides of the house so that every room has access to the outdoors and the deck that wraps the house.

5. The newest home on the tour is a recently completed house with two thick zigzag walls under a faceted roof, which results in a versatile two-level floor plan. The home is super insulated and strategically sited so as to use the sun as its major source of energy. This Net Zero house by architect Stephan Green produces as much energy as it consumes.

6. The last house on the tour is a completely redesigned, renovated and modernized 1974-era home that now boasts clean lines and sharp angles, in a palette of primarily shades of gray and black.

Tour tickets are $40 each and can be ordered online or at Passifora or The Hillsdale General Store. All tickets will be available for pickup at Hillsdale Town Hall on Aug. 12 starting at 10:45 a.m.

Patron & Sponsor Tickets
Patron tickets are $100 per person and include a cocktail party on Sunday, Aug. 13 from 5-7 p.m. at an additional contemporary home not on the tour. Sponsor tickets are $150 per person and include the tour, entry to the cocktail party, and your name or business listed in all event material. For more info., contact

Tour and patron tickets must be ordered by Aug 7. Sponsor tickets must be ordered by Aug. 4.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/01/17 at 12:25 PM • Permalink

At The Hudson Company, What’s Old Is Reclaimed And Customized

Hudson Company flooring in a private home in Ancram, New York. Photo by Garrett Rowland.

By Jamie Larson

The Hudson Company, based out of a mill and showroom in Pine Plains New York, is quietly making some of the best reclaimed wood flooring and siding produced anywhere. That’s why so many major institutions, including the new Whitney Museum of American Art, hotels and restaurants are designing their spaces with the Hudson Company’s involvement. But it’s not just the public space — their work in home interior design in our region and beyond can be equally jaw dropping.

The floor in the Whitney Museum of American Art by The Hudson Company. Photo by Gentle & Hyers.

The craft of reshaping wood from an old barn into character-rich flooring and siding that works in modern design contexts is dizzyingly complex. But that’s what the market demanded, and Hudson Company owner Jamie Hammel, who formerly worked in the corporate world for major companies including NBC and Conde Nast, saw an opportunity to fill an unmet need.

In 2009 he bought the Antique and Vintage Woods of America company and completely reshaped and rebranded the business. One of the most important changes he made was that instead of outsourcing milling work, he moved the mill into the Pine Plains warehouse so his team could increase the technical quality of every aspect of the process. The result is an impressive catalogue of hundreds of specialized and perfected products. And if you don’t see exactly what you want, they will do it custom.

A stunning private home in Millbrook, New York. Photo by Gentle & Hyers.

“I just thought there was a unique opportunity to increase the standard of the industry,” says Hammel, who just finished moving the company’s NYC showroom from Brooklyn to Manhattan. “The market evolved. People used to want antique wood, but there wasn’t much control over what you got. That doesn’t fly with our clients. We insure the quality and level of ‘defect’ to very specific degrees.”

Hammel says his clients, whether they are on Park Avenue or in Amenia, don’t just want old wood, they want wood with character in a very customized way. The market has also demanded pre-finished flooring. This wood can be hard to finish, especially after installation, so in 2012, The Hudson Company started refinishing in-house as well. Another complication is that the source material is finite, so Hammel’s crew has become creative. They now gather material from mushroom farms, which grow their crop on wood that gets uniquely textured during the natural process. They have also started a process applying veneers of reclaimed wood to new planks in an effort to save product and now even mill some new lumber.

Hudson Company custom flooring in a home in Amenia, New York. Photo by Nils Schlebusch.

“It’s an art and a science,” Hammel says. “From start to finish we’ve crafted the floor for you. Because we are so custom, every job requires spontaneity and improvisation. We like to fill the role on a project as materials consultant so clients and designers can fulfill their vision. It’s our job to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.”

That’s easier said than done when the raw materials are gnarled old planks, some too deteriorated to use and all filled with old nails.

Jerry Woods, who’s been with The Hudson Company since almost the beginning, pulls all metal out and grades it for the first time. Some pieces he decides just aren’t usable. Then they go into the kiln to dry, and there’s some loss there too, as boards split, crack or even explode. There’s a second grading before they are planed on the manufacturing line and are finally graded a third time. Fifty percent of the wood they salvage is lost to the process even with their improved efficiency.

A Manhattan kitchen featuring some of The Hudson Company’s lighter colored flooring, which is particularly in fashion at the moment.

Most of the wood the company produces is custom milled specifically for a particular job, but The Hudson Company also carries a selection of stock on hand. Prices range from as low as $7.50 a square foot to $35 a square foot for the most intricate design patterns and rarest materials. (If you are looking for a really good deal — you heard it here first — The Hudson Company will hold its first clearance sale August 16-19, at the Pine Plains mill. It’s an excellent opportunity to grab up materials for small projects, with items starting at a dollar and products priced as low as 75 percent off.)

The visitors center and gallery at Art Omi in Ghent, New York.

“Several years ago there were two kinds of clients,” Hammel says. “There was the pristine Park Avenue style, where it’s such a clean finish it almost doesn’t look like wood, and then there was the super rustic style — the more character the better. We’ve found those worlds are colliding. People want that character but with a professional finish.”

Their biggest job, and arguably the biggest in the reclaimed industry, was the floor The Hudson Company milled for the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Another detail in the Millbrook home. Photo by Gentle & Hyers.

“The Whitney Museum was a tremendous project for us,” Hammel says. “It was all reclaimed from the Philip Morris factory. That floor has gone viral, as much as a floor can go viral. We hear from people who want to reproduce that floor.”

The gallery floor is the largest repurposed wood floor in the country and has put the Hudson Company’s work at the top tier of the industry. Other work includes the Jewish Museum, Public House, and 1 Hotel Central Park. They’ll also soon provide the finishing touches on the High Line, another extremely visible display of their craftsmanship.

Being able to supply a product that’s so naturally textured but also extremely consistent and customizable has really made the company a go-to for these major projects… as well as, perhaps, your own kitchen floor.

“Day to day, it’s sometimes hard to step back and appreciate everything we’ve done so far, but I’m proud we’re preserving aspects from these old structures and that people get a chance to really appreciate them again,” Hammel says. “Above all, I’m proud we’re making something in the state of New York. We aren’t a big business but we are the second largest employer in Pine Plains and we’re offering our employees benefits. This team is doing great work.”

The Hudson Company
2290 Rte. 199, Pine Plains, NY
(845) 848-3040
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 07/17/17 at 10:38 AM • Permalink

The High-Performance House, Part 8: Almost There

Rona Easton and Lonn Combs of EASTON+COMBS, the award-winning architectural office based in New Marlborough, Mass. have allowed Rural Intelligence to look over their shoulders (and those of their client) throughout the construction process of a high-performance home going up right now. This is the eighth installment in a series that is giving us a lens into the building of an energy efficient house in Egremont, Mass.

View from the north

To recap: Last fall we broke ground on a house commissioned by a homeowner who requested a “house that would not use fossil fuels, and would be resilient in a variety of scenarios.” We’ve shared our process with Rural Intelligence readers throughout the year and now, finally, the house is nearing completion, both on the exterior and interior. The exterior metal is almost completely installed, and the bridge between the two buildings is in fabrication, to be delivered and installed within the next month.

View of the south.

View of the west facade.

The west facade.


The entrance canopy, waiting for the deck that will soon be installed.

The entrance canopies, fabricated by digifabshop in Hudson look fantastic. Our design priority was to provide shelter at the entrance doors, and to do it with subtlety, which we achieved by a straightforward design attached to the house wall. We kept it in metal, painted to match the building finish.

Light floods the house.

We continue to see and wonder at the full effect of the skylights and large windows, which flood the interior with sun and light all day. It’s hard to imagine that lighting would ever be used before dark. These hot days give us our first taste of the environmental impact of the high-performing building envelope. The house is cool and comfortable — without any air conditioning; it’s quite a shock when you step outside to the heat.

The skylight in the master bathroom, an interior space with no window, brings warmth to the space not possible with artificial light. The sky is visible from the shower, and you never lose your connection to the outside.


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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/12/17 at 11:51 AM • Permalink

The High-Performance House, Part 7: Here Comes The Light

Rona Easton and Lonn Combs of EASTON+COMBS, the award-winning architectural office based in New Marlborough, Mass. have allowed Rural Intelligence to look over their shoulders (and those of their client) throughout the construction process of a high-performance home going up right now. This is the seventh installment of eight (or so — this is construction, after all) in a series that is giving us a lens into the building of an energy efficient house in Egremont, Mass.

The exterior metal finish moves towards completion.

The installation of the robust, maintenance-free metal finish is moving ahead. It’s a surprisingly economical solution, offering “serious bang for your buck” according to Jim Cervone of Little Deer Construction, the General Contractor. It’s amazing to watch the installers from Wooliver, the metal fabricators, fold the steel like master origamists folding paper.

The windows are surrounded by a folded metal edge and sill that sheds water and provides a visual frame around the openings.

On the interior, all the infrastructure we don’t see in a finished home is steadily finding its place — heating, cooling and ventilation ducts, electrical cables. More notably, the skylights are in, flooding the interior with natural light and its well-documented psychological benefits (as well as decreasing the need to turn on the lights).

We have strategically located the skylights against walls, reflecting the light and maximizing its presence in the space. Designed to appear frameless, they provide direct and uninterrupted connection to the sky.

The house is filed with natural light, even on a cloudy day.

The skylight in the kitchen.

Coming up: Interior finishes and the bridge connection between the buildings.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/05/17 at 08:32 PM • Permalink

The High-Performance House, Part 6: The Facade Takes Shape

Rona Easton and Lonn Combs of EASTON+COMBS, the award-winning architectural office based in New Marlborough, Mass. have allowed Rural Intelligence to look over their shoulders (and those of their client) throughout the construction process of a high-performance home going up right now. This is the sixth installment of eight (or so — this is construction, after all) in a series that is giving us a lens into the building of an energy efficient house in Egremont, Mass.

If you read our previous installment in this series on the Smart Wall, you will remember how the so-called rain screen, or ventilated facade, plays a critical role in the environmental performance of the house.

As we said, controlling moisture and preventing mold build up is the fundamental challenge of our new, high performance walls. An exterior rain screen — a ventilation space between the wall sheathing and exterior finish — is one of the keys.

Mock-up built to study wall assembly. This diagram illustrates how the ventilated facade supports the successful performance of the wall.

Now we can begin to see the the outermost layer of the rain screen, and the building, take shape. The metal is being installed on the wood battens on both the roof and the walls, and looks stunning. In addition to playing a vital environmental role, the metal also provides a maintenance-free finish; no need to stress over a significant repainting bill in 10 years.

Garage/studio building with metal roof and facade.

The complications, and maintenance, of gutters and roof overhangs are avoided because the system passively manages water rather than trying at all costs to repel it, much to our client’s liking “I’ve found the experience of maintaining a house extremely frustrating, and wanted my new house to be very low-maintenance,” she said. “I don’t want to have to find someone to clean my gutters ever again!”

All of the details, including at the roof eaves and around the windows, have been carefully developed to allow air flow into the ventilation space and at the same time shed water.


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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/12/17 at 02:18 PM • Permalink