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Sisson Cottage

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Project Name

Sisson Cottage

Project Status



5,400 sq. feet


  • General Contractor: Charles E. Millard
  • Landscape Architect: Michael Vergason
  • Michael Thomas

Room or Space


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Project Description

2002 RADA
Renovation / Grand

If great art elevates the ordinary, this renovated cottage is architecture at its best. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson preserved an old farmhouse's simple proportions while adding magic with light and lath. Asked to expand the 18th-century cottage as a guesthouse the owners could live in during construction of their main house, the architects lightly attached an addition that reaches away from the house, leaving its modes profile intact. Inside, though, they gutted the jumble of small rooms to create an open, Modernist plan anchored with Douglas fir columns and beams and a dramatic boulder fireplace. "We wanted to do a powerful shell inside the older shell and play one against the other," says Peter Bohlin, FAIA.

One of the chimneys was reworked to create a monitor that funnels light into a top-floor bedroom. The design team set another metal-clad monitor over a new stair that connects all the floors. Light filters down through a lath screen, fitted with a removable panel on the second floor. Inside, a ladder leads to a rooftop view of an orchard and the ocean.

"At night," says project manager Theresa Thomas, "when the light is on in the monitor, it's like a lighthouse or beacon--here's home." The judges called that kind of detaling "very appealing. The renovation lifted the old house to a new level," they said.
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