A Modern Berkshires Home Designed by Workshop/APD
December 12, 2022
Built to house dozens at a time, a modern—yet not too serious—home rises in the Berkshires.
Text by Jorge S. Arango Photography by Shannon Dupre’/DDreps
The husband of the couple who owns this 10,500-square-foot home overlooking Mount Greylock in the Berkshires of Massachusetts knows and loves this region well. He attended nearby Williams College and, says architectural designer Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD, “He bought land here many years ago with the dream that he would build a ski home.”
That day finally arrived, and the avid skier engaged Workshop/APD to make his project a reality. One half of a fortysomething couple with two children, his tastes skewed more traditional. But, explains Kotchen, “We strive to build houses with a modern point of view.” The solution was a clutch of pavilions “that had that presence but didn’t scream ‘I’m a cool modern house dropped into the Berkshires landscape.’ ”
Kotchen took his cue from the land itself, erecting a house that was bright, natural, unpretentious, and durable using stained-cedar beams that will age to black over time, a slate roof, and granite that mimics the land’s shale-like outcroppings. Plenty of outdoor gathering spots ring the structure: a cedar pergola, terraces made from a combination of Goshen Stone and bluestone, and ipe decks, to name a few.
Programmatically, says Kotchen, it’s a home designed to host dozens of guests, hence the six bedrooms and additional versatile spaces—a sleeping porch, a media room, a gaming and home theater area—that can accommodate extra overnighters. Even the corridors serve multiple ends. “You never want to feel like you’re walking down a long boring hallway,” Kotchen explains, “so we activated transitional spaces with areas you could inhabit, such as window seats and reading nooks.”
Inside, white oak and cold-rolled patinated steel form the envelope. The focus, of course, is Mount Greylock, its majesty visible through eighteen-foot-tall windows in the great room, which accommodates a kitchen and living and dining areas.
Kotchen called on local craftsman Jeremy Broadwell, principal of ShadowBrook Custom Cabinetry, to execute interior details and furnishings. Broadwell says the team focused on the particulars. “For the dining table, they wanted a finish that was scratch resistant, so I brought in samples, and they started scratching and stabbing them with pens and nails!” The black-stained white oak with a Polarion finish passed the test.
Broadwell and Kotchen collaborated on other features, like a bunk bed in a modest-sized room that the owners wanted to sleep six. Kotchen drew up a triple-decker design accommodating queen, full, and twin beds with storage drawers underneath. (An adjacent daybed accommodates the sixth sleeper.) Broadwell had to figure out how to unobtrusively fasten the bed to the walls and ceiling. “It was a lot of logistics going into a little space,” he says. The elaborate structure now rises almost to the sixteen-foot peak of the ceiling, its three levels connected by two ladders and a landing. Everyone fights over who gets the top.
Because the family didn’t want the house to take itself too seriously, Kotchen added touches of whimsy, like an orange ski lift bench docked against a custom freehand watercolor wallcovering in the mudroom; a white faux-antler chandelier in the great room; and another hand-painted wallpaper on the ceiling of the basketball court.
The client’s lifelong dream has finally come true in a flexible four-season house that can accommodate a crowd—comfortably. “All the living spaces can be utilized by many groups of people at one time,” says Kotchen, “and everyone feels like they have their own space.”