Record Houses 2007

VilLA NM Ring House Brown House Casa Poli Ohana Guest House Christ Church Tower Loblolly House

Stephen Kieran, FAIA, likens his family’s new weekend house on Taylors Island in Maryland to a duck blind, one of those three-sided shelters that hunters build to make themselves disappear in the woods or a marsh. Barklike vertical strips of red cedar clad three elevations of Kieran’s 2,200-square-foot house, camouflaging it on a 4-acre Chesapeake Bay site thick with loblobby pines. While those mostly opaque sides face the surrounding forest, the fourth elevation literally opens to the water—thanks to retractable translucent hangar doors and accordion-folding glass walls that the owners can move to eliminate all separation between indoors and out.

And like a duck blind, the building—which the architect calls the Loblolly House—can be disassembled. Most of its pieces are then recyclable. Concern for the environment has long been essential to the work of KieranTimberlake Associates, Kieran’s Philadelphia-based firm. But in the past few years, the practice has also investigated modular and prefabricated construction with the aim of developing faster, cheaper, and smarter ways of building. “Forty percent of the material in landfills is building debris,” notes Kieran. “If you could take apart a building and sell elements from it on eBay, you could make a difference.”

But most attempts at prefabrication in building construction have failed, he says, due to economics, market perceptions, and peculiarities of the home-building industry. Traditional construction methods have long been less expensive than prefab experiments, and perceived by the public as being of higher quality. In the past few years, though, the costs of on-site construction have soared, while the industry has faced serious quality concerns, says Kieran. At the same time, the quality of factory-built components and consumer interest in prefab have risen.

The one earlier example of successful industrialization in American home building—manufactured houses delivered by truck to sites all over the country—holds no appeal for Kieran and his partner, James Timberlake, FAIA. “You’re stuck with dimensions and limitations determined by highway transportation rules. That’s the death of architecture,” Kieran maintains. “No matter what you do, you always read the single- or double-wide trailer in those homes.”

KieranTimberlake saw the three-story Loblolly House as a system made entirely of off-the-shelf elements and components fabricated off-site to be assembled atop a platform (or “foundation”) of wooden piles sunk into the sandy soil. Key components included so-called “smart cartridges” used to create floors, ceilings, and roof; “dumb cartridges” for the building’s skin; and “blocks” that house bathrooms or mechanical rooms.




Barbara DeGrange and Stephen Kieran


KieranTimberlake Associates LLP
420 North 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Tel. 215-922-6600 Fax 215-922-4680

Interior designer:

Marguerite Rodgers Ltd.


CVM (Structural)
Bruce Brooks & Associates (MEP)


Barbara Seymour Landscapes

General contractor:

Bensonwood Homes, Arena Program Management


Peter Aaron/Esto
Esto Photographics
222 Valley Place, Mamaroneck NY 10543
Tel. (914) 698-4060

Barry Halkin
915 Spring Garden Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Tel. (215) 236-3922


KieranTimberlake Associates

CAD system, project management, or other software used:

Autodesk Revit



Exterior Cladding

Hardipanel Vertical Siding – Smooth, James Hardee Building Product


Custom fixed and operable wood windows, Artistic Doors & Windows

Custom Fixed windows at bridge, Loewen Windows


Insulated-panel or plastic glazing:

Translucent Multiskin Acrylic Sheets, Deglas

Structural Glass Floor:

Glasswalk Floor System,Innovative Building Products, Inc.



Artistic Doors and Windows

Metal doors:

Folding doors @ west wall
Thermally broken aluminum framed folding system,

Upswinging doors, or other:

Aluminum bi-fold hangar doors @west wall, Wilson Doors



Entry Handset, Double-Hill

Floor and wall tile:

Polished pebbles (anatolia) @ shower, Solistone



Recessed downlights, Lightolier


Wall Luminaire/Surface Compact Fluorescent, We-ef Lighting

Ceiling Fans:

G Squared



Wall-mounted porcelain sinks, Lacava


Tessera Concealed Tank, Carrier & Toilet Bowl, Geberit


“Taboret” Pressure-balancing shower faucet, Kohler


Wall mounted single lever faucet (bathrooms), Lacava

Shogun single lever kitchen faucet, Jado

Kitchen Appliances


GE Profile Stainless Side by Side Refigerator  


GE Monogram 18” Dishwasher                          


GE Profile Built in Single convection oven          

36” Stainless Steel Gas Cooktop, Thermador

Downdraft Ventilation System, Thermador

Interior Stair

Metal Spiral Stair, Duvinage Corporation

Exterior Stair

Bill Curran Sculpture, Design, Fabrication