Just a reminder in honor of New Year's that not everything up here in Maine is old and held 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, 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 care, 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 on a ledge amidst 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 a friend'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.


Scott Waterman said...


Raina Cox said...

Oh my! This is like learning daddy is a cross-dresser.

But, damn, if you don't wear dresses well.

Reggie Darling said...

DED: Reggie is always excited to open up your blog because he never knows what he'll find there, but he always knows he'll learn something new. And indeed, this is an unexpected and delightful post. I agree with you, the third house appears to be sublime. Thank you. RD

The Ancient said...

It's gratifying to see that if everything suddenly goes south, I needn't fear being forced to live in a trailer.

A storage container in Blue Hill will do nicely!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Happy New Year! Sounds like you brought it in right, or at least deliciously!

Toby Worthington said...

I'm grateful to this post for clarifying matters about the shipping box house. It was included in Adam Lewis's
book on Albert Hadley but, maddeningly, there was nothing in the way of description or caption to identify
that unusual structure.

home before dark said...

Now that's the way to SHIP A HOUSE—to hell with the chair!—and to think INSIDE the box. Like the idea of it, rather than its reality. Always impressed when a residence nestles in and makes itself at home. Happy New Years DED and looking forward to many great stories to coming out of Dilettanteville, Maine.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

I like all this post but particularly your dismissal of the Mitchel Rales house and its rotunda food court! Spot on. Also the observation that this kind of house is not about sympathetic design but 'much more about displaying what they can afford, and featues that they don't need.' Never a truer word...

Turner Pack Rats said...

i know one is not supposed to say bad words on the interweb but referring to the Rales house, what a piece of s**t. Must be designed by the Sam Houston Institute of Technology. the only saving grace is with current trends changing so quickly, someone will tear it down in 15 years or so. maybe it is a mall.
re the shipping containers - what a great idea. seeing the docks of the world littered with them rushing away, it's good to see someone else besides me thinking they'd be great ready made housing, certainly wouldn't deteriorate any faster that a mobile home and the decorating possibilities are endless.

so, happy new year esp re vehicles.

security word def - "sionv" - new car model from the folks who currently make cars for chicks and 20 somethings. SIONV - now for guys with a 600 horsepower V-8, 4 wheel drive, 2 gun racks, and a beer tap conveniently located between the front seats. It's a hybrid though burning a fuel refined from the blood of pedestrians.

Topaz said...

Oh, dear. I found your blog at the exact moment I promised myself I would stop spending so much time perusing design blogs on the internet. Well, that's one resolution that's bit the dust in record time.

What a fascinating place! I spent at least an hour going back and reading some of your older posts and will be back once I have more time. Thank you for all of your work.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Topaz, that's the nicest thing anyone has said today---thank you so much! I have fun doing it and getting a few of these tales out.

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