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New House

Peter Zimmerman Architects

Shared By

Eliza, Peter Zimmerman Architects

Project Name

New House

Project Status


Year Completed



26,000 sq. feet



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Project Description

This new residence, completed in November of 2011, was constructed in Wayne, Pennsylvania and is a response to the local vernacular which has become a blend of architectural styles that includes Arts & Crafts, Shingle Style, and some Victorian. All of these styles were combined to create a design that utilizes borrowed landscapes, panoramic view sheds, local symmetries, axial relationships, and exterior grade changes to incorporate the client’s challenging program requirements.
The program for the project consisted of the Main House, Office Barn, Art Gallery, and Indoor Pool for a total of twenty-eight thousand square feet. To keep this amount of program space in scale with the neighborhood several decisions were made early in the design process. The existing site was sloped with a severe grade change in the rear of the property where an old hedgerow once stood. This allowed the Main House to be nestled into the existing grade and rotated to take advantage of the properties large view sheds and borrowed landscapes from the adjacent properties to help expand the perceived size of the property. The secondary volume that angled off the Main House connected, on axis, the Office Barn and Indoor pool while providing those spaces with natural light from the existing grade change. The grade change formed the stone wall with arched glass doors along the Indoor Pool and defined the Lower Lawn from the Upper Lawn. With the differences in the existing grade, program challenges were also met by placing other program spaces underground. This decision allowed for the appearance of individual out-buildings above grade while the interior circulation, a critical design feature, connected program spaces below grade. The indoor spaces gained a relationship to the exterior and vise versa.
The design of the Main House was driven by the axial relationship of the rooms in plan and the relationship of those rooms to the exterior spaces. These spaces either had a central focal point, like the fireplace in the Family Room, or pushed out into the site to provide panoramic views and natural light similar to the Dining Room with its Covered Porch. The design was taken one step further by allowing the house to look like it was added onto over time. An example of this is the Family Dining area that is enclose by custom made windows in a room where the exterior stone veneer becomes the interior wall surface. One gets the sense that the original intent of the space was once an exterior porch not an interior room.
The natural materials, stone veneer, tile roof, cedar shingles, along with custom doors and windows helped maintain the scale of the house. The stone base around the house was used as a horizontal design element keeping with the local style but also balanced out the vertical gable elements, like the Stair Tower, on the front façade. The Stair Tower, itself, became the start of the circulation process downwards, through the brick arcade, into the Art Gallery, and onward to the Office Barn or Indoor Pool, and finally out onto the Lower Lawn. Even the use of color became a design element that indicated various features on the exterior elevations while shades and sheens of white detailed the interior architecture.
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