“Burr and McCallum fitted the house to the land like moss to a stone” wrote architecture critic Robert Campbell.
“Frank Gehry meets the Shakers” is how former Dean of the Yale Architecture School, Thomas Beebe, once described our work.
These two quotes describe what we strive for in our architecture. It must start with a strong connection with the site: physically, historically and emotionally. And from that beginning emerges invention. We love to use old materials in innovative ways. We update traditional construction methods that have proven their worth over centuries with new materials and current energy conservation techniques. History is our friend and our inspiration.
We have been in business since 1982, always from our home base in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts. Ours is a country practice, leading happily to a wide variety of project types, including schools, museums, shops, and the mainstay of our practice: houses. Our work has been recognized internationally through publications, exhibitions, and awards.
Franklin Andrus Burr, FAIA, received his B.A. at Williams College and his M. Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture (1970). Andy is a registered architect in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Ann Kidston McCallum, FAIA, received her B. A. from McGill University and her M. Arch. from Yale School of Architecture (1980). For many years she taught architectural design at Williams College. Ann is a registered architect in Massachusetts and New York.
This residence with three bedrooms and two studies is focused around a spectacular contemporary art collection. We had to balance the clients’ desire for long stretches of wall space protected from UV light, with their wish for plenty of windows to see the views. Design Solution: The house is composed of three bars. The main bar with living spaces one room deep enfronts the view. A second bar contains garage, mudroom, and laundry. The third bar hovers above and perpendicular to the main bar and contains the guest rooms. This forms a covered area on the terrace, ideal for dining on summer evenings.
Photos: Michael Lavin Flower
Sustainable Design Elements
Board formed concrete walls extend from this house to protect the drive and entry from winter winds and openings in these walls frame the view. The exterior cladding is Vermont slate which we found to be comparable in cost to clear cedar clapboards, and much more economical in long term maintenance. Sustainable design elements include triple glazed windows, super insulated walls and ceilings, and geothermal heating and cooling.
Photo: Michael Lavin Flower
Inspired by History
Berkshire vernacular architecture has always inspired our work, which borrows heavily from houses, barns, and old mills of the area. This project marks the first time we have stolen inspiration from the saw tooth roofs of the many moribund mills of the Berkshires. Anticipating the possible future use of a wheelchair for one of the children, the family elected to have the living area all on one level. This absence of a second floor gave us the opportunity for top lighting, and the saw teeth allowed us to bring direct shafts of south sun into all the major rooms, in spite of there being no southern exposure. A truss made up of a combination of metal rods and a heavy timber king post supports each saw tooth.
Photo: Ann K McCallum
Sawtooth Roof & Natural Lighting
This house is featured in the Remodelista article A Civilized Factory by Lydia Lee:
The overhangs on the sawtooth roof are lined in red, a bright zigzag on an otherwise soberly attired building. The steel-framed factory sashes refer back to a time when there was no plate glass. “The small panes give the building a human scale,” says McCallum. “Before there was electricity, you wanted to get as much natural lighting into interior of these big factories, so sawtooth roofs were used to create these ribbons of light through the middle.”
Photos: Ann K McCallum
Fun & Funky Interior Details
An interior ‘garage’ door bridges the dining area with the porch, and an array of red tool boxes serves as a unique kitchen island.
Photos: Peter Vanderwarker
Palladio Award Winner
Simple, recognizable forms are used here in unusual ways. The 2,000 sq. ft. house is bisected along its long axis, the north side with masonry walls and small openings, and the south side with open columns and a porch. Spanning between them are the living spaces, “perfect” platonic solids which are allowed to penetrate the roof and to bring in light. Winner of the 1989 Palladio Award.
Capturing the Sun
Natural conditions drove the forms of this rural house on a windy hillside. Capturing the warmth of the sun is particularly important in a house used primarily in the winter, but it is challenging when the views are in every other direction. Three barn forms are connected with simple sheds, forming a south-facing courtyard. A second courtyard faces west, with a south-facing “sun-catcher” porch. High windows in the mezzanine and a large south-facing skylight contribute to solar heating.
Photo: Michael Lavin Flower
Among the Birches
A magnificent stand of birch trees gave us the opportunity to create an interesting entry sequence. On arrival, you find a large opening through the barn-like guest wing which frames a view of the white tree trunks against a background of deep forest. Walking up the ramp in this opening brings you to a sheltered, south-facing courtyard and the front door. Virtually all rooms in the house receive direct sunlight in spite of the fact that the best views are to the north.
Photos: Michael Lavin Flower
Peaceful by the Pool
Our clients needed a small swimming pool to lure their children up to the country. Utilizing an existing steep slope dropping away from the tennis court, we avoided a code-mandated pool fence. Where the slope up to the tennis court would make the differential less than the required 4′, we raised the stone walls up to a height of 8′ above the pool deck. These higher walls create the supports for the roof of the porch, which works simultaneously for tennis watching and pool lounging. A solid door in the stone wall completes the structure and evokes that Charleston porch experience of surprise at opening a door not into the expected front hall, but back outside.