JIB House

Gloucester, MA  USA

Client: Couple in Cambridge, Ma., who wanted year-round ocean house

Scope: One story landside, three stories waterside; open interior plan

Only a short slope and a rocky shore separate JIB House from the Atlantic Ocean. Such a spectacular perch—and lack of serious height restrictions—should have made our job of creating an airy interior with sweeping views a straightforward one. Not so. Our clients were determined that their new contemporary house not obstruct their neighbors’ views. Our solution was to survey neighbors, map their views, and generate graphically a three-dimensional building envelope, which allowed us to determine the maximum height and mass of the house. While a concession to the neighborhood, it did not force us to compromise on our clients’ wishes for high ceilings, expansive views, and open spaces. Here, we’re aided by the sloping angle of the site, which allowed us to stretch the height waterside to three stories without exceeding the building envelope.

Seen from the surrounding landscape, JIB House is a hybrid: Landside, the house is low and an understated presence among its more traditional neighbors; it buffers wind and salt spray, creating an intimate south-facing courtyard through which visitors approach. Opposite, the house opens dramatically as the slope drops and the roof rises like a sail; the north side is a three-story wall of windows. A large folding roof plane on the western side creates a bold form that offers shade when the sun is in the southwest. Below, we sited a pool close to the ocean to connect swimmers with the water beyond.

Materials: Cast-in-place concrete; exposed aggregate; granite; mahogany cladding and windows; copper; bamboo; stainless steel; acoustical plaster; glass pavers

Boston Society of Architects, Design Honor Award

General Contractor: Thoughtforms Corp.
Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
Acoustical Consultant: Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Inc.
Lighting Consultant: Reflex Lighting Group, Inc.
A/V Consultant: Spearit Sound

Photographer: John Edward Linden Photography