The new book Yankee Modern: The Houses of Estes/Twombly (Princeton Architectural Press, $40) resembles the work of Estes/Twombly itself: thoughtful, modestly scaled, well-designed. Written by Providence, R.I.-based architectural historian William Morgan, the book showcases ten houses from the Newport, R.I., firm led by Jim Estes, FAIA, and Peter Twombly, AIA. It opens with an insightful foreword by New Hampshire writer Howard Mansfield, and from there segues into clearly written, photo-heavy analyses of each project.
The sizes of the homes shown range from 1,000 to 3,200 square feet, showing a restraint that will resonate with many readers. Each residence conveys a feeling of calm and order, as well as an intimate and layered connection with the site and region.
Morgan's deep understanding of Rhode Island and New England informs the write-ups, which contain just enough poetic passages to support the hard-working design prose. "It also captures the essence of summer on Block Island," he writes of one project, "in much the same way as screen doors slamming, laundry flapping on a clothesline, and round beach stones serving as doorstops."
The book's layout gives its full-bleed photography and informative drawings and plans plenty of breathing room. It also gives Morgan the space to explore some of the factors behind Estes' and Twombly's design philosophy, delving into their early experiences working in construction and their shared love of the outdoors. And he points out their quiet environmentalism that focuses on the basics of good design: cross-ventilation, passive solar, and local materials.
For more on the multiple award-winning work of Estes/Twombly Architects, visit: