March 01, 2011

A Pine Romance

A view of Loblolly House, a private home that was fabricated off site and assembled on Taylors Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
© Peter Aaron/OTTO

British publication The Telegraph featured Loblolly House recently, including an interview with Partner Stephen Kieran and his wife Barbara, who are the home's owners.

Living in a forest: A pine romance 
by Lucie Young 
'It is not unusual to sit in the living-room and watch the bald eagles in the trees. We've seen a family of five,' Barbara DeGrange Kieran says. A retired clinical psychologist, she is sitting in her weekend home in Maryland, on America's east coast. Today, she and her husband, the architect Stephen Kieran, have been watching a flotilla of canvasback ducks bob by in the turbulent grey-green water of Chesapeake Bay.  
Viewed from the front, Loblolly House looks like a giant bird hide. Entire glass walls fold to the sides so that the living areas can be completely open to the environment. From the back, it looks like a giant treehouse sitting up on stilts among a forest of the loblolly pines from which it takes its name. And inside, it is a hi-tech green home.  
The house was built by Stephen's company, Kieran Timberlake, one of America's most exciting architecture practices. Last year, the firm won the competition to design the new US embassy in London, a £650 million project dubbed 'the crystal fortress' because of its unusual plastic-scrimmed facade and protective moat. Two years earlier Kieran Timberlake gained national fame with a futuristic cellophane house for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  
'The design for Loblolly emerged from the site of the house,' Kieran says. It is propped up on 9ft stilts because it is prudent to be off the ground in a wetland area where there are occasional hurricanes. The supports are made of the same rot-resistant wooden piles used for docks and telephone poles.  
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