Hurricane-proof Far Pond residence


  • Lot size: .43 acres
  • Building size: 3,100 sq. ft.


Bates Masi Architects have chosen the waterfront site of an existing 1970’s kit house overlooks layers of wetlands to an estuary, the bay, and the ocean to yet again display their skills. The existing structure consists of glulam post and beam construction connected with steel plates. Since the existing house clearly expressed the structural system, the addition should also express this. The architect chose to clearly identify the existing system of the house and create a dialogue with a contrasting panelized system in the addition. The new system utilizes prefabricated elements that resolve multiple structural and spatial problems.

Prefabricated shear wall panels, used in light frame construction in areas that are hurricane prone with high force winds, were studied. Most are made from a light gauge metal folded to add strength and rigidity. For this case the panels were to be exposed and used for more than just a hidden structural component. A standard light gauge 4×8 steel sheet was folded back and forth along the long axis adding the same strength and rigidity to the panel. The resulting 2’ panel locks into adjacent panels and is a structural shear and bearing assembly, as well as a decorative furniture component.

Using new technologies to fabricate customized panels from a standard product accomplishes several things: less material is necessary to achieve greater structural strength, multiple programs can be integrated into one material, waste is minimized resulting in a more effective approach to sustainability, and the dialogue between the existing and new structural systems elevates the experience of inhabiting the space.

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