AIA Bucks County 2021 Design Awards
Creekside Confluence – Raphael Architects, Michael Raphael, AIA
Lace Works – Ralph C. Fey, AIA Architects, Ralph C. Fey, AIA
Modern Farmhouse – Wolstenholme Associates, John Wolstenholme, AIA, LEED AP
Joel Levinson is a semi-retired Philadelphia architect and graduate of the School of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (1957-1963). He had an interior design practice that received a first prize in Philadelphia Magazine’s first Office Interior Design Contest for the R. M. Shoemaker Offices.
The work produced by his firm – Joel Levinson Associates – is being collected and preserved by the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania. The archives is planning an exhibit of his work and a book titled The Houses of Joel Levinson. His designs have been published in newspapers and journals such as Progressive Architecture, Global Architecture, Japan Architect, Architecture and Urbanism, Building Stone Magazine, Steel Institute Journal, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer ,and the New York Times.
His works have been published in books such as A Guide to Philadelphia Architecture, Architecture in Philadelphia, and Dream Houses of Philadelphia.
His designs have been exhibited at venues such as the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Yale University. His Arbor House was part of a national traveling exhibit and was on a tour conducted by the Society of Architectural Historians. His Hillside House was honored by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
Levinson is a published author, photographer, and theorist. He founded the Architectural League of the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and is a member of the International Society for the Study of Time.
Joel Levinson is the founder and director of the Daring Diagonal Virtual Museum ddvm.org
Creekside Confluence – Raphael Architects
The stone farmhouse, circa 1790, is set against a natural backdrop at the intersection of two winding creeks. The owner loves the setting of the home, optimally positioned to embrace the surrounding natural environment. Within the original historic house, the rooms were small and separated from each other. Small double-hung windows offered insufficient daylight and views. The owner desired a light-filled, open-plan addition, which would be both complementary to the historic home and integrated into the landscape. The mass of the new addition is set apart from the existing house. The void between the historic and new addition creates a new entry to the home. The space between the volumes is completed with art glass entry doors and transom and embellished with a curved canopy. The new kitchen, dining, living and second floor sleeping room are defined by a combination of glass and stone walls to balance privacy and transparency. New stone walls, positioned perpendicular to the original home, enhance and order the architectural composition. These walls screen views into the home from the street; block harsh afternoon sunlight into the dining and living space; and create contemporary forms that complement the shape of the original structure.
Large glass walls and sliding doors are positioned between the solid walls to provide unobstructed views of the woods and the confluence of the nearby creeks. Sunlight floods the interior living spaces. Above, the second-floor bedroom is surrounded by glass walls and skylights to offer stargazing beyond the overhead treetops. Daylighting and privacy into the sleeping room is controllable by motorized shades. An imperative followed throughout the design process was to reduce the energy footprint of the residence. South-facing glass combines with an efficient thermal envelope to reduce energy demand for the home. The southern wall of the original home is now an interior wall between the existing and new spaces and acts as a heat sink in winter. In summer, sliding doors and windows provide cross ventilation. The existing oil burning boiler was replaced with new ground source heat pump condensers. Daylighting in the addition replaces artificial lights throughout the day, and dimmable LED light fixtures reduce electrical demand even more. Interior and exterior walls are finished with locally sourced stone. The footprint of the addition as well as its hardscaping, was minimized to disturb as little as possible of the natural setting. The energy-efficient house nestled in its tranquil setting fulfills the owner’s desire to combine the old and new elements seamlessly and “live among the trees” in the beautiful natural setting.
CREEKSIDE CONFLUENCE – is a sophisticated, well-thought-out addition to a lovely, late-18th century stone farmhouse. The project was carefully presented for the awards program with good photographs and well-crafted text that showed serious and nuanced thought. The addition is filled with an abundance of daylight that streams through expansive windows that also unite the house with the lovely surrounding landscape. The sensitively proportioned windows add repose to the design. Judging from the photographs, the original house and the addition appear to be knitted together with great skill. Not only were the architectural components of the project visually connected with the surrounding landscape, but also various strategies were employed to use the forces and properties of the natural world to reduce energy consumption. Figuratively speaking, this addition, in and of itself, seems to breath fresh air, which must be a joy to the homeowners.
Honor Award – Modern Farmhouse – Lower Gwynedd, PA – Wolstenholme Associates, John Wolstenholme, AIA, LEED AP
Located in Lower Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania, this custom-built residential project takes an un-conventional approach on the typical modern farmhouse. As envisioned by our clients, the design goal was to create a four-bedroom home with a modern farmhouse aesthetic without relying too heavily on traditional design techniques, while also taking advantage of the property’s natural landscape and scenic views.
The exterior of the Lower Gwynedd Farmhouse is sophisticated and contemporary, featuring stone and white siding, a glass surround entryway, wood detailing, large black windows, and an angular metal roof which peaks atop the building. Adjacent to the first-floor mudroom is the attached three-car garage, which is connected by the porte-cochère. The rear of the home, primarily accessed through the large screened-in porch, includes an inground pool and adjacent pool house set amidst a picturesque, wooded landscape. The existing site posed a design challenge due to an extremely tight and peculiar shape for the building setbacks. We requested a variance from Lower Gwynedd Township to build over the set-back lines. Unfortunately, this request was denied. As a result, we allowed the setbacks to dictate the final shape of the home, leading to a unique “L” shaped form that gives the home it’s distinct character.
LOWER GWYNEDD MODERN FARMHOUSE – This expansive and ambitious project has a unifying visual rhythm as if only one fine piece of music is playing throughout the design. Windows are placed judiciously to enhance the exterior composition and to bathe the interiors in natural daylight. This is architecture on a grand scale with luxurious features provided as no doubt requested by the client, but not at the expense of good taste. The design suggests late 19th-century and early 20th-century residential projects in the US and England. The odd-shaped site contributed to a splayed plan configuration that works as well on the exterior as it does on the interior. The presentation of this project is to be commended for its completeness. The architect provided great photos, plans, sections, elevations, and a comprehensive text. This kind of presentation takes much guesswork out of the job of the juror to judge its merits.
Lace Works – Lambertville, NJ – Ralph C. Fey, AIA Architects, Ralph C. Fey, AIA
The Lace Works project was a conversion of an Industrial generation building into a single-family residence. The building has water flowing under the elevated concrete structure that flows into the Canal. The current building has exterior circulation between the floors. The design
required stair circulation along an outside wall because of large concrete structure floor systems. Our Solution was to enclose the stair in exterior corrugated steel sheets. As the first floor is in the flood plain the primary living space is the second floor and the primary sleep on the third floor. The industrial brick façade was opened to provide a roll up garage style door and balcony over the Canal in the primary space. Interior walls were only used to enclose the bathroom. Windows were placed in masonry openings; Insulation was applied where appropriate. Most of the internal walls remained brick with new Industrial black windows. Electric was surface mounted and spiral exposed ductwork was used to distribute HVAC. The first floor serves as a private office for the client. The existing Interior walls were removed and the existing brick was exposed. The floor carried the industrial feel with polished concrete. There was minimal construction expect for the introduction of bathrooms.
LACE WORKS – This project is a good example of how an architect can convert a brick and concrete factory into an appealing residence while maintaining the industrial ambiance of the original building; presumably this was done at the clients’ request. Existing brick walls that had been concealed were exposed and the concrete floor was refinished to continue the industrial theme. The exterior stair, sheathed in corrugated steel, creates a pleasant and rewarding visual tension between old and new. Lace Works reminds me somewhat of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house in a forest outside of Pittsburgh. That house, like Lace Works, has water flowing under a portion of the house. The occupants are one with the forces of nature.