perfido weiskopf architects, pittsburgh Alan Weiskopf, AIA, and Kevin Wagstaff, AIA, spend most of their working time on large-scale institutional, commercial, and multifamily projects. But that didn't stop them from designing this 1,495-square-foot gem for some friends of Weiskopf's. “It's not our basic practice,” he says. “But when an opportunity like this comes along and the timing is right, we'll take it.”

The clients wanted a true vacation cabin for their pond-side property in Maine—no air conditioning, no central heating system, and no unnecessary rooms. Weiskopf and Wagstaff obliged with a low-key, gable-roofed structure built almost completely of unfinished wood. The interiors contain no drywall or plaster, and exterior cladding comprises cedar shingles and plywood. The sequence from the entry, through the house, and down a wooden ramp to the water roughly follows an existing footpath, establishing a deeper tie to the site. The project's one concession to luxury is its view: The architects raised it 5 feet off the ground on steel piers and a concrete foundation to ensure sightlines to the pond. But that didn't bother the judges. “It has all the beauty of Shinto shrines,” one said.

project architects: Alan Weiskopf, AIA, and Kevin Wagstaff, AIA, Perfido Weiskopf Architects
project size: 1,495 square feet
site size: 2.5 acres