Views are at the heart of every project designed by Hutker Architects.
“For me, it’s all about the site,” says Phil Regan, principal in the 32-year-old firm based on Martha’s Vineyard and in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “I try to find inspiration in the place itself.”
Nowhere is that more evident than at The Bridge House on Martha’s Vineyard. The residence takes its name from a transparent great room strategically placed between a master suite on one end and a sleeping space for two teens on the other.
But there’s also a strong visual connection to the water beyond, even from the driveway. “You see beneath and through the bridge on approach, so the Vineyard Sound view is uninterrupted,” says Regan.
His clients had summered on the island in rented cottages for years. Last year, they found a site and decided to build. Their only real challenge was the existing structure. “It was a modern house, slipped into the sloping site, with mold and mildew issues,” Regan says. “There was nothing about it they wanted.”
What they did want was a place with views where they could retreat from a busy work world in the metro Boston area. The site’s in a subdivision of about 50 homes on the island’s northern shore, fronting Vineyard Sound. There are sunset vistas, but the existing house was too low to take full advantage.
“We met and talked about the idea of removing the house and seeing the property in a different way,” says Regan, who collaborated with project architect James Moffatt and Gary Maynard of Holmes Hole Builders. “I assured them that we could design the new house so that the main floor’s views would be like those from the existing house’s roof—and could be seen upon arrival.”
Regan’s material palette was straightforward: glass, steel, copper, stone, and wood. He placed much of the glass on the north/northwest side to take advantage of the sunsets. A low-lying southern sun penetrates the bridge’s glazing during the winter, warming the space nicely. “We kept it narrow enough and transparent on the southern side to heat the space passively,” he says.
A standing-seam copper roof tops siding of horizontal ipe planks, which cover some interior walls as well. “The ipe is so hard you can’t nail it; you have to pre-drill it,” says the architect. “It resists the weather and carpenter bees can’t burrow into it. It’s too hard.”
Outside, the stonework is cut granite and most of the steelwork is structural and hidden, especially the bridge’s supports. The decking is ipe, as are the windows and doors, with bronze exterior detailing. All the millwork was executed meticulously. “The precision of the structure was paramount, with very little trim to hide discrepancies,” Maynard says. “Even the siding was precisely done. There was a lot of care in the finish work.”
Regan worked closely with interior designer Laura Meyer of Meyer & Meyer on interior components. Ipe, ash cabinetry, and limestone set the tone along with blackened steel accents. “The assignment was to put their heart and soul into the interior. The furniture, the window treatments, and the tiles in the bathrooms—they’re very custom pieces,” Meyer says. “They wanted a sense of island living with openness.”
She enhanced some architectural details and designed interiors that blend with exterior living spaces. “The kitchen and dining and living spaces are open and without barriers because of the family’s desire to share in cooking, dining, and relaxing together,” she says.
Meyer visually broke up the bridge’s great room—where floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides bring the outside in—by placing furniture without cutting off views. “The living room furniture has open backs so people can communicate and conversations can flow across the room,” she says.
She brought harmony to the entire interior. “Even though the master suite is separated from the other bedrooms, there’s a very comfortable feeling of being able to flow through the spaces without jarring surprises,” she says.
Meyer got that right. The only surprises for clients and guests at The Bridge House come from the constantly changing views around it.
Selecting a 14-foot slab of Claro walnut for a table led to a serendipitous discovery for the owners of The Bridge House.
At interior designer Laura Meyer’s suggestion, furniture designer and artisan Jeff Soderbergh invited her clients to his Wellfleet warehouse to look at wood for their new dining table. It was designed to separate into a side table so that when more seating was needed, it could be added easily. Both pieces were to be cut from the same walnut slab.
“We sat down with chalk to make the cuts,” Soderbergh says. “It was like a jigsaw puzzle.”
He’s been collecting wood—elm, oak, ash, cherry, maple and butternut—for 30 years. But walnut has always been his favorite. “There are warm, caramel tones in Claro Walnut,” he says.
This table, with its live edge, is trapezoidal in shape. It’s three inches thick and 65 inches at its widest. And it offers something that no other slab in Soderbergh’s warehouse could. There’s a natural void, left by degraded bark, down by the lower end of the former tree trunk—and it’s loosely—if coincidentally—shaped like the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
That’s a sure conversation-starter for any dinner party.