Restoration, renovation take center stage at annual AIANH awards

Architectural firms from Portsmouth, Peterborough and Connecticut were the big winners at the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ 24th annual awards banquet, held Jan. 18 at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester.

Honor Awards were distributed to Richard Monahon Architects, Peterborough, Centerbrook Architects, Centerbrook, Conn., and TMS Architects of Portsmouth, which also received one of two Merit Awards. Also winning a Merit Award was Daniel V. Scully/Architects of Keene.

The Monahon firm took home an Honor Award for its work on the Gregg Free Library in Wilton. Construction manager for the project was The MacMillin Company of Keene.

The 1912 Beaux Art-style library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its interior features a domed rotunda, highly detailed woodwork and decorative paint walls.

From 1987 to 2007 the library trustees aimed to make the building accessible to the community and renovate the heating, insulation, electrical, teledata and plumbing, all while restoring the historic finishes.

Restoration included the mosaic tile floor, window sash and original decorative paint walls and ceiling stencils which had been painted over. The librarian’s office, the kiosk, was created by wraparound mahogany bookcases capped with a dome creating a space within a space.

Jurors called the work an “extremely sensitive, non-intrusive renovation, respectful of the existing structure. A lot of thought and care went into the project and the craftsmanship is very evident.”

Centerbrook Architects was honored for its work on the renovation of Phelps Academy Center at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter. Contractor was Shawmut Design and Construction.

Phillips Exeter had asked the architect to renovate a 1930 science building into a new student center. The school also wanted the new building to incorporate sustainable design and to serve as a teaching tool that would influence the attitudes and behavior of those who use it.

The new Phelps Academy Center provides a home for student activities and clubs at the heart of the Exeter campus. At its center is a new oval atrium, the “Agora,” which acts as a campus artery through the building, connecting the quadrangle to Tan Lane.

Certified LEED Silver (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System), many of the center’s sustainable characteristics are highlighted with plaques describing materials and systems.

The jurors’ comments for this project were: “Beautifully executed. The agora is extremely successful. Restrained detailing, imaginative; nice mix of contextually appropriate exterior and more modern interior.”

TMS Architects of Portsmouth received an Honor Award for its work on a private residence in Exeter. Toland Construction was the general contractor.

The home’s owners said they believe that the basic house was built between 1895 and 1900 based upon their discovery of a dime store novel in the walls. Recent demolition revealed that the original house was essentially constructed from scrap salvaged from other buildings with some pieces dating from the 1700s.

The architect faced significant challenges in fulfilling the owners’ request to create a sense of spaciousness in a structure that had existing finished space of less than 600 square feet on the first floor. Zoning also precluded adding any enclosed additions beyond the existing footprint. Living space was incorporated into the existing porch and opening up the entire first floor plan provided an overall sense of space.

The jurors said, “This is a lucky client: there are lots of clever changes to a very ordinary house. The rich detailing and restraint are commended.”

TMS also received a Merit Award for a private residence in the White Mountains. The primary contractor was Grady Built Custom Builders Inc.

Sited in a gentle valley with views of New Hampshire’s Mt. Chocorua, the home pays homage to the farmhouse that had occupied the site since 1788 while employing technological elements that place it firmly in the 21st century.

The new owners were strongly motivated by a desire to recreate a traditional farmhouse on the site and in their words, “respect the hill.” It was very important to them that the home fit into the surrounding land as though it had been there for many years. Since the old farmhouse could not be saved in its entirety, it was carefully deconstructed and many of the old materials were reused in the new home. The flooring, beams, bathtubs, soapstone sinks, backsplashes, hardware, doorknobs, and granite from the old foundation all played a significant role in the new residence.

The project encompasses many aspects of sustainable design, particularly as it relates to heating and cooling, energy-efficient design elements, and the use of sustainable and local building materials.

Jurors liked the nice traditional forms used in a more modern interpretation, the subtle detailing, the diverse and attractive interior details, and commended the sustainable elements, in particular the daylighting.

A second Merit Award was given to Daniel V. Scully/Architects, Keene, for a private residence in Harrisville. The general contractor was T&H Contractors.

The new home is an energy-efficient house with four bedrooms, 2-1/2 bathrooms, kitchen, dining and living room and a library. The site is a flat hilltop between Silver Lake to the north and a reservoir to the south with primary views beyond the reservoir to Mt. Monadnock. It is a redeveloped site of a smaller, less energy-efficient house that was demolished, with many of its materials recycled, in order to make way for the new home.

Jurors cited the project for its “simple and clear massing and thoughtful, modest design. It is clearly a New England language, but there is a modern force to it. This project, too, has excellent daylighting.”

Two Peoples’ Choice Awards also were presented, the result of a ballot vote conducted during the AIANH Awards Submissions Exhibit, Dec. 17-Jan. 18 at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. The winners were 18 Congress St., a mixed-use building in downtown Portsmouth, designed by McHenry Architects of Portsmouth, for the commercial designation, and for the residential project, a home in Munsonville, designed by Daniel V. Scully/Architects of Keene.

In addition, four young architects were honored in the AIANH Intern/Young Architect Design Competition, which offers an opportunity for interns and young architects to strengthen their design skills, gain recognition and assist a community with their design challenges.

First place went to Mo Gagnon of Stewart Associate Architects LLC in Laconia. Second place went to Abigail Ransmeier of Concord. The third place award went to a collaborative project of Bethany Ritter, Driver-Ryan Architects of Portsmouth, and Jennifer Hegarty, UK Architects of Hanover.