When the Modernist architect and industrial designer Eliot Noyes designed a house, he fixed its central concept in his mind and let the details flow from there. At the year-round Vermont vacation home he designed for his family, the general theme is one of sheer simplicity. “It's one big room, with the bedrooms stacked on the back side,” says Boston architect Frederick Noyes, FAIA, Eliot's son. “You can see every joint—it's completely open.”
The elder Noyes refined the main room's fireplace down to its essence, as he did the home's plan and construction as well. Like the walls, the oversized fireplace consists of local stone initially assembled with concrete forms rather than traditional masonry techniques. “You put the stone into the form and pack in the concrete, then add another stone,” says Frederick Noyes. “So in fact the concrete has a flat face, and you see more of it. It was a lot less expensive because you weren't hiring a mason.” The house still belongs to the Noyes family, and still proves the architect's point: Great design originates in a strong, encompassing vision.