Monday, January 4

Peter Cohen - architect

What better way to start the new year than a post on architecture. Peter Cohen is a retired architect who has designed a spine-and-module home for him and his wife which sits in the coastal forests outside Ellsworth, Maine. This house design is made up of modules which all attach to the main frame. It is light and airy with beautiful forest views all around.

Cohen and his wife, Sally, sit in the dining room, which along with the connected living room, is a focal point of the house, lighted in part by high, remote-controlled clerestory windows.

The entryway to Maison Amtrak owes a debt to Japanese architecture, a touchstone of Peter Cohen’s career.

Cohen's bedroom is clipped onto one end of the house, just across from Sally’s bedroom. A door to the left of the bed leads into his spacious bathroom, where he cleans up after long, muddy hikes in the woods with his golden retriever, Daisy.

Viewed from a good distance down the slope running to the Union River, the Maison Amtrak is clearly oriented toward the river. The deck is sheltered from the neighbors’ view by Cohen’s bedroom to the right and the living room at left.

Classic mid-century furniture like the Eames lounge chair in Cohen’s bedroom populate the home, a nod to his long life in architecture.

One of the coziest nooks in the house is in the living room, a window seat where Cohen sits and reads. Because the large glass window in the living room is fixed, the smaller one opens to allow cross breezes and ventilation.

Sally waters the row of geraniums, keeping the bright red security barrier marking the edge of the deck in full bloom.

A pair of LC2 chairs by Le Corbusier are ideal spots for watching the river down below. The Womb chair by Eero Saarinen is a close second.

The central spine of the house jogs left to include the kitchen, which eventually leads out to the garage. Cohen tried to keep the garage relatively small, claiming many Americans give their cars the best spot in the house.

The bottom floor of Maison Amtrak hosts Cohen’s office, a guest room that doubles as Sally's office, the mechanical systems, and storage space. Though the bottom floor is set below grade, windows look out just a few feet above the ground, allowing lots of light in.

A series of long stairs leads to Maison Amtrak, which is set below street level. The entranceway demonstrates Cohen’s love of Japanese design with a geometric simplicity matched only by the formal elegance of the stained Douglas fir two-by-fours.

images and text from dwell
photos by Mark Mahaney


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