Building Stone Magazine Fall 2013 : Page 53
Local fieldstone connects with seaside property With extensive use of Westport fieldstone, Vermont slate and Bluestone, building a 10,000-square-foot residence that sits on a site in South Dartmouth, MA, overlooking spectacular ocean views was a labor of love BY JENNIFER ADAMS Photot Credit: Richard Mandelkorn Building Stone Magazine — FALL 2013 | 53
Local Fieldstone Connects With Seaside Property
With extensive use of Westport fieldstone, Vermont slate and Bluestone, building a 10,000-square-foot residence that sits on a site in South Dartmouth, MA, overlooking spectacular ocean views was a labor of love
When tasked to build a 10,000- square-foot home on a pristine oceanfront property in South Dartmouth, MA, the architects at Meyer & Meyer, Inc. of Boston, MA, turned to local stone to fulfill their client’s aesthetic requirements. While it was known all along that stone would be applied to the design, it was only after viewing many samples and photographs that the architects — with the input of their client — realized that Westport fieldstone possessed the warm colors and rugged texture that were desired for the new residence.
“The clients fell in love with this seaside peninsula because of its natural, untouched beauty, the rocky shores, picturesque ocean views and remote location,” said John Meyer of Meyer & Meyer, Inc. “We were given the task of designing a home that looked like it was part of the landscape, while taking advantage of the 270-degree views. The clients envisioned a traditional stone and shingle home that grew out of the landscape using natural, local materials — with minimal maintenance.They wanted their new home to be fun, casual and filled with hidden niches and places for discovery.”
Meyer continued to explain that the property is among an elite golf course community.“It’s an amazing development,” he said. “There are great mansions and golf courses. After you go through the lush gated community, there is a second gate — 12 acres of land headed right to the ocean.
“From the outset of the project, it was the unique site that inspired the house design, whose projecting wings appear to grow out of the hillside as they cascade outward toward the ocean,” the architect went on to say. “Exterior stone is used extensively throughout for its beauty, durability, and because it is natural to the site.The use of stone reinforces the look of the house growing out of the ground.”
And while the house is part of an upscale area, the homeowners were seeking a residence that would have understated elegance and complement its natural surroundings. “There are a lot of really fancy new houses around that area — some are big and showy,” said Meyer.“This is something they reacted against.They wanted something that more subtly fit into the land.”
MATCHING THE LANDSCAPE
According to the architect, the colors in the surrounding landscape played a large part in the stone selection process. “There is mossy blue, green, gray vegetation growing among [the property],” he said. “It was our job to find stone in those colors.”
The design team viewed truck loads of stone samples before deciding on Westport fieldstone, which was supplied by The Stonemasons, Inc. of Westport, MA. “We went through many pictures of stones that we liked for color and texture that captured the colors at the site,” said Project Manager Nancy Sadecki, who worked along with Meyer. “We had about three masons competing for the job. We were judging the stones that they provided as well as the composition of the mock-ups.”
The homeowner’s wife was very involved in the stone selection and design process.“She was interested in having stone with a warm hue,” explained Sadecki.
Meyer agreed that the client was very hands on. “The wife is an artist herself,” he said. “She was there for all the site meetings.One of the reasons we were awarded the job was because we do a lot of simulations and drawings — a lot in color. We worked with those visuals with the owner and got exactly the personality she was after.”
Westport fieldstone was selected for the exterior walls and piers for its warmth, rugged texture and availability of larger stone sizes. “A large base course of stone, which occasionally morphs into large boulders at the ground plane, was used throughout the exterior walls. This blurs where the landscape ends and the architecture begins, but also visually helps raise up the ground plane — making the substantial structure look more ‘seated’ into the landscape.”
Multiple on-site mock-ups were constructed in order to review the composition of the base, field and cap stones. “The layout of these stones was important, as they needed to look naturally set as the client didn’t want any straight lines, such as a traditional style cap, while expressing the base, middle and top of the wall. The large base course of stone helped the house look more connected to the landscape.”
On average, the base stones ranged in height from 24 to 30 inches. The fieldstones were anywhere from 3 to 15 inches.
Complementing the fieldstone is a graduated multi-colored Vermont slate roof, which further reflects the shades of the home’s natural habitat. “The slate was used for its durability, beauty and coloration,” explained Meyer, adding that the pieces ranged in thickness from over 1 inch at the base to 3/8 inch at the ridges.“A palette of green, gray and purple was developed in direct connection to the muted hues of the ocean surrounding the house on three sides.”
Additionally, solid sawn slabs of Bluestone — ranging from 3 to 8 inches thick — were delivered to the site for paved terraces, caps at the bridge, terrace and spa walls as well as for the exterior stair treads. “The slabs were hand-rocked and bushhammered on site to weather the stone and lighten it so that it matched the slate-blue hues found in the Westport fieldstone,” said Meyer. “The owner did not want anything too refined, and the Bluestone slabs — with their rugged texture and salt-washed color — matched the rustic muted character of the rocky beach site.” The Bluestone and slate were also supplied by The Stonemasons, Inc.
A LABOR OF LOVE
“The challenge of the stonework was that it was more like commissioning a sculpture than building a house,” explained Meyer. “We wanted it to look like it was growing out of the landscape. In order to speak about the stone walls, we made up a geological history for some walls or piers where we described stonework that ‘gurgled’ or ‘erupted.’ Building the stone walls required a team of craftsmen that understood and shared this artistic vision. Our collaborative effort involved a passionate team of owners, consultants and craftspeople — each one bringing a level of skill and creativity that enriched the project from the initial siting to the final detailing.”
To give the porte cochere a strong connection to the main body of the house, Westport fieldstone was employed around the main front door. “We gave special attention to the way the stone was cut and laid in order to add some formality,” said Meyer. “Beveling the stones around the Front door adds depth — running the top course of stones perpendicular to the timber rafters showcases the material’s strength. Granite cobbles at the entry court add formality and are laid in a serpentine pattern to direct traffic through and around the porte cochere.”
Inside, the chimney in the living room is built out of Westport fieldstone. A 12-footlong piece of solid granite — salvaged from the site’s shoreline — was reclaimed and used as the fireplace mantel.
It was important that the lower stonework was large enough to work with the scale of the large mantelpiece, explained Sadecki. “The natural undulating curves within the mantel convey the waterline and strength of the coastline,” she said.“Above the mantel, the owner wanted a sculptural effect reflected by the mix of large boulders and smaller sea-worn pebbles also found on the site. The three large flat stone pieces above create a balanced composition and the smaller pebbles flow like water in between.”
“Because stone is natural and permanent, it was a perfect fit for this seaside location,” said Meyer. “An enduring palette Of local stone, salt-washed wood and purple-green slate reflect the muted and changeable seaside hues.”
According to Sadecki, the entire construction of the beachfront residence took two and a half years, with the mock-up phase lasting two to three months and the masonry taking a year and a half. “It was a labor of love,” she said.
Because of the extensive amount of stonework, the architects were on site often for inspection. “We were there two to three times a week supervising,” said Meyer.“We didn’t just set the masons free.”
In the end, the final result was rewarding.“The owners were thrilled to hear reactions to their new home,” said Meyer. “Friends intimate with the property were amazed at various areas to explore — beach views from the ground level to the home’s highest points. Discovering exterior views from patios, stairways and the bridge were continual surprises. Even distant boaters curiously marveled at the homes unique shapes. In general, the home gave new meaning to the ‘wow’ factor.”
Private Residence South Dartmouth, MA
Architect: Meyer & Meyer, Inc., Boston, MA
General Contractor: Lars V. Olson Fine Home Building Inc., Marion, MA
Stone Supplier/Installer: The Stone Masons, Inc., Westport, MA (except fireplace)
Stone Mason: Patriot Masonry, LLC, Shirley, MA (fireplace)
Landscape Architect: Gregory Lombardi Design, Inc., Cambridge, MA