House in the Berkshires

House in the Berkshires

Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architect
Salisbury, CT, USA | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Phillip Spears
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Stone ForestKohler
Plumbing fixturesNewport Brass
WindowsQuantum Windows & Doors
Typical pivot hingesRixson
Door hardwareRocky Mountain Hardware
Exterior wood sidingWestern Red Cedar

Product Spec Sheet
Stone Forest
by Kohler
Plumbing fixtures
Typical pivot hinges
by Rixson
Door hardware
Exterior wood siding

House in the Berkshires

Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architect as Architects

This private residence is perched on a rocky wooded bluff in the Berkshires. Sloping steeply down in a 180 degree arc to the north, east and south, the site is characterized by mature conifers and deciduous trees, rock outcroppings, and views across cornfields and a river to the mountains beyond.


The program for this 5,300 sf house includes an open living/dining/kitchen space, a library, three bedrooms, two home offices, restrooms and other support spaces. Important in the planning was the owner’s love of books, which becomes a focal point of the house in the form of a cylindrical library realized at the heart of the house. The balance of public and private spaces are configured along the crest of the bluff to maximize views and the feeling of living amongst the treetops.


It is the topography and native ecology of the site that are the inspiration for the materiality and form of the house. Native stone was quarried from the site, and used for the foundation, walls, and fireplace. The flat rock paths and the stacked stone foundation blend seamlessly into the rocks and scrub brush of the site while the house, shaped by stacked stone walls andexposedwood structure and walls, somehow both hugs and yet also perches at the top of the bluff. The details of construction are a nod to local traditions of craftsmanship including New England stacked stone walls and fine metal- and wood-working.


The configuration of structural elementsand connections is honestly expressed, demonstrating the clear logic of the structural composition. A variety of wood species including Douglas fir, red cedar, and white oak are juxtaposed, demonstrating a variety in the types of wood joinery. Steel construction is also honestly expressed with columns, beams, and bolted connections exposed to view. Features such as railings, fire screens, and shelving are finely crafted out of metal.


A not-quite-straight oak tree trunk from the site isinstalled on top of a flat site rock as a side support of the entry roof, contrasting both the stacked stone wall at the other side of the entry roof and the straight steel columns & beams of the entry wall behind.


Strategies for energy efficiency and sustainability include passive solar design, a geo-thermal HVAC system, and the local sourcing of natural materials. Storm water is captured for irrigation.

Material Used :

1. Quantum: Windows
2. Western Red Cedar: exterior wood siding
3. Lead-coated copper: roof
4. Custom Steel Railings
5. Custom Wood Doors
6. Rocky Mountain Hardware: door hardware
7. Rixson: typical pivot hinges
8. Kohler: Stone Forest

9. Newport Brass: plumbing fixtures

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