By Design > Exceptional Houses

Good design should be recognized. That’s why the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been holding an Excellence in Architecture Design Awards Program each year since 1983. And this year’s four residential entries shine.

The winning project is scheduled to be announced at the AIANH Awards Banquet on January 16 and will be posted on the AIANH Web site, www. In addition, new hampshire home plans to feature the winning residential designs in the March issue—stay tuned!

A Vertical Accomplishment

Despite zoning restrictions on the building’s footprint and the many goals for the space, architects Jacob Albert, Craig Gibson and Jim Righter of Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, Inc., in Boston, were able to design a guesthouse that also functions as a library, tennis viewing pavilion and boathouse.

Located on the property of a onehundred- year-old vacation home in New Hampshire, Lake Library (as it’s called) is a compact, vertical structure that is compatible with the main house but still maintains a distinct identity.

The exterior cedar shingles, green trim and the wood interiors are consistent with the main house. However, where the main house is horizontally expansive, the guesthouse is perky and vertical. The main house, although much bigger, is simple and camp-like; the guesthouse is an energetic, exuberant folly (the picturesque roof-scape and bundling of vertical elements give it the aspect of a miniature castle).

Inside, the living room is rustic, cozy and grand. Focal points are a massive stone fireplace as well as a bay window that faces the tennis court and looks out to the lake. The room is flooded with light from the bay window and a rooftop light monitor.

Upstairs, guests can relive their childhoods. With low eaves and a band of small windows, the bedroom feels as if it’s located in a tree house!

Renewable Energy Meets N.E. Architecture

Jay Lawrence Purcell of JL Purcell Architects designed this Peterborough home in the spirit of New England vernacular architecture, but unlike traditional architecture it integrates renewableenergy features, including passive solar design as well as geothermal-assisted heating and cooling.

First, siting the house perpendicular to the road allowed the optimum orientation for passive solar gain, while maximizing dramatic views of open fields and mountains to the south and east from all of the primary spaces.

Second, structural insulated panel walls and icynene roof insulation create a high-performance, airtight building enclosure. Geothermal water-to-water heat pumps provide versatile, efficient year-round comfort and use smaller duct sizes than a water-to-air heat pump. They also allow for radiant heating of spaces, and more flexibility and efficiency in the overall design of the system. Heat-recovery ventilation provides preheated fresh air to the interior.

The interior features an open floor plan with post-and-beam structure. Low built-in cabinets define the individual spaces of the open plan, and a lowered living room floor adds spatial interest. The piano and fireplace were carefully located to enliven the entire first floor. On the second floor, light from sunrise and moonrise fill the master suite all year long.

Built Not to Impose on Sqam Lake

As a painter of natural landscapes, Marcia Zahr of Holderness has a strong appreciation for the beauty of Squam Lake as well as for the respectful building practices that have kept the shoreline and lake pristine. She wanted to ensure her renovation had as little effect on the lake and site as possible.

To this end, Ward D’Elia and Jon Otte of Samyn-D’Elia Architects in Ashland designed the home on the site of a dilapidated camp structure, thereby avoiding having to cut any trees for construction or enhanced lake views. Instead, lake views were gained Marcia Zahr chose wood and a traditional camp style for her home. by orienting the home to take advantage of the natural break in the vegetation provided by a stream running from the property into the lake. This streambed was extended to act as natural landscaping, with rounded boulders, granite beams and native stone replacing an erosion-prone lawn.

Previously, the stream had been partially blocked to provide access to the old camp. Now, a small cedar and pine footbridge provides a crossing as well as a place for visitors to pause and admire the lake. Zahr, D’Elia and Otte agree that the lake is best seen this way— from the outdoors, not from sky-high windows set in a house crouching on the shoreline.

The interior of the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home includes native pine paneled ceilings, floors, and walls reflecting Zahr’s love of wood and a traditional camp style. In addition, the home exceeds Energy Star-certification standards with a highly insulated building envelope, energy-efficient appliances as well as a large interior stone chimney that provides thermal mass for storing and radiating heat. To allow the homeowners to rely on wood heat for much of the time, storage was designed to ease in wood delivery and access.

Designed with a Nod to History and Conservation

This single-family residence—designed by Chris Williams and Philip Bennett of Christopher P. Williams Architects in Meredith—is built on a private cove of Squam Lake. The residence is located on property where a summer home— built around the end of the nineteenth century—had burned to the ground. The current owner wanted to reference the original summer home and the historical significance the property had as a portage route for American Indians traveling between Lake Winnipesauke and Squam Lake.

The project took more than five years from design inception to completion, with a three-year construction schedule. By incorporating materials from the immediate site and around northern New England, the construction process aimed to keep embodied energy (the amount of energy needed to manufacture and supply a product, material or service) as low as possible. To maintain this attention to energy conservation, high-efficiency mechanical systems (including a condensing gas boiler for heating and domestic hot water as well as heat-recovery ventilators) were installed. These energy efficiencies also helped reduce space requirements. In addition, throughout the house, centralized lighting controls were incorporated to reduce lighting waste.

For this highly detailed project, qualified and skilled artisans provided significant input. The result is a home that has modern facilities while still maintaining its rustic and historical past.


The New Hampshire chapter of AIA has more than three hundred members and represents the majority of licensed architects in the state. Members work with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure and sustainable buildings and neighborhoods. AIANH off ers a wide array of services to members and the public. For more information, visit