It took the property owner a few years after acquiring this piece of riverfront land to start the process of designing a house. This gave her time to become familiar with the land, to enjoy access to the Connecticut River, and to discover the process of working with an architect. In time, she took her best first step.

At the beginning, we analyzed the process of putting a house on this virgin site. A significant hurdle was the design review process of the Gateway Conservation Commission, charged with managing the ecological integrity and visual beauty of the lower Connecticut River Valley. Their guidelines became a sounding board for our process, clearly asking for the same things that we hoped to achieve. We received their highest recommendation.

The unique character and great space of the river corridor influenced a basic decision to work in parallel to its direction. Working with the river’s geography, the living and private spaces were elongated along its axis. An open porch, facing the river, wraps the face of the rooms and frames River Valley views. The second floor has two guest suites flanking the open ceiling of the living area on the ground floor.

The site was to include 4 garage bays housing two treasured antique cars. To avoid having an oversized garage, we split them into two, forming an auto court between them. There is a garage-top array of photovoltaic panels.

Entering the site, the architectural view culminates in a cupola set atop intersecting rooflines. Upon entering the house, the interior is shaped around the cupola opening, which floats above the stair hall, a second-story bridge, and the great room. To the left are the kitchen, dining room and conservatory, and to the right, private functions, including powder room and master suite.

This energy-conscious house has high performance insulation, a geo-thermal HVAC system, a zone of radiant floor heat along with forced air.

The cupola provides natural light to the central living area all day while the presence of the river is another corridor that flows from room to room. The interior light and river views never let you forget where you are.