Just a reminder in honor of New Year’s that not everything up here in Maine is old and put together with handmade nails….and because I’m under deadline to finish an article for pay about a lost modernist building with a connection to the early days of Design Research, I give you this intermission.
Peter Aaron/Esto, from New York Times, Dec. 1, 2005

This house, a stone’s throw from Dilettanteville, is built of 12 shipping containers, around a central  great room, a project by artist-architect Adam Kalkin.  The interior design is by the estimable Albert Hadley, and needless to say, five years later, it is still one of the most discussed buildings up here.

For a New York Times slide show featuring the container house, click HERE

Brooks photo, Ellsworthamerican.com

Over on Mt. Desert Island, construction continues on the Gwathmey Siegel designed house for Washington billionaire Mitchel Rales, replacing the shingle style summer house of Washington saloniste Susan Mary Alsop, continues to rise, as do the rumors around it.  Published cost estimates, which began with the issuance of an $18,000,000 building permit are now rumored to be $30,000,000, on top of the $5,000,000 paid for the property.  So far it looks like nothing so much as a small suburban shopping mall with rotunda food  court.  It sure doesn’t sit as sympathetically on the property as the old house, and the materials are very pedestrian.  .But of course, sympathetic design is not usually what people who build $30,000,000 houses are after.  They’re usually much more about displaying what they can afford, and features that they don’t need.  And as you can see, the rugged scenery of Mt. Desert Island is difficult to completely overpower, in the way Gwathmey Siegel tamed all those potato fields on Long Island.  I’ll reserve further judgment until the place is finished.  After all, I might be pleasantly surprised.  Not that I think Mr. Rales or his architects care one fig about the Dilettante’s opinions.  But you do, don’t you?  For the Dilettante’s earlier post about this project, Click HERE

Photo by Sandy Agrafiotis, Design New England, Dec. 2010

And over on the other side of our little county, at the gateway to the hardcore Down East region, is this recent work by architect Bruce Norelius.  Interestingly, nearly 40 years ago, when the Dilettante first ran away from home, he lived on this same dusty back road, although unfortunately not in this house, which was not yet a gleam in anyone’s eye.  This is the one that I decree to be just right, clean, crisp, subtle, and timeless, attuned to its site, a ledge in blueberry barrens with views across to Mt. Desert Island.  For the  full article and many excellent pictures in the Dec. issue of Design New England, please click  HERE
The Dilettante is still under the spell of last night’s New Year’s Eve supper party of fresh shucked Maine oysters, Lobster Newburg, and crisp apple pie, all prepared by and consumed with, excellent company.  I hope you all celebrated in your preferred fashions, and wish you a Happy New Year. Good riddance to 2010.