New England Design Hall of Fame 2016: John R. DaSilva
November 8, 2016
Text by Lisa H. Speidel
New England Home is excited to present architect John DaSilva, a 2016 inductee into the New England Design Hall of Fame.
“I was an architecture nerd as a kid and still am,” says John R. DaSilva. “It’s all I ever wanted to do.” In high school, he landed a summer job with the architect who designed his parents’ house, and he enrolled as a summer student at the Columbia University School of Architecture.
Decades later, as the principal in charge of architectural design at Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders, DaSilva remains a student of architecture. “I have thousands and thousands of books on architecture,” he says.
While his library represents a range of wildly different perspectives, from classic (Frank Furness) to modern (Alvar Aalto), DaSilva sees his own work occupying a nice middle ground. “Typically architects today are doing modernist work or straight historical work,” he says. “I believe in a third way: work that is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, work that grows out of solutions and historic ways of doing things, but doesn’t replicate them.” His aim is to design houses that are fresh, relevant, and timeless, homes beloved by multiple generations.
The design-build firm’s Cape Cod location also inspires DaSilva. “Our roots on the Cape give us a point of view that is shaped by this context: the quality of light, the seaside landscape, the coastal woodlands, the bluffs—these things contribute to the way our work looks.”
Three books have showcased the firm’s work (two of them authored by DaSilva), including Living Where Land Meets Sea, released earlier this year. All his books celebrate a sense of place, which is exactly what DaSilva’s architecture does. “We are not bound by our context, but rather we are educated by our context,” he says. “We are able to bring the magic of Cape Cod wherever we go.”