2023 RDAA | Custom Period or Vernacular House | Hill House | Joeb Moore & Partners

“This is a clear, iconic concept executed with sophistication and elegance,” applauded a judge. “Every space has a different perspective on the property.” Indeed, Hill House is the creative result of a close reading of the land. Joeb Moore, FAIA, whose work often translates traditional architecture into a primitive language, came up with a plan for four bar-shaped volumes encased entirely in wood. These tightly drawn buildings are an homage to the shingle style of architecture indigenous to New England. A flat planted roof interlocks the four volumes around a central art gallery, and each glassy gable end is directed toward one of the site’s four ecologies: woodland, hickory grove, glacial escarpment, and meadow.

The home’s abstracted qualities are felt on approach from high on the rock ledge, where the green roof appears almost as a ground-level garden. “When you walk down through the rock escarpment, you enter the long art gallery and can see straight through the building to the rolling meadow and distant view,” Joeb says. Public areas—living, dining, kitchen, and gym—occupy perpendicular wings on the east side of the gallery. On the opposite side, the primary suite and home office form an L shape to the three-bedroom guest wing, which can be closed off when not in use. Across the motor court, a fifth structure houses the garage and artist studio.

Each building is wrapped seamlessly in white-washed cedar treated to weather naturally. This surreal skin “triggers all kinds of questions: how can the roof be the same as the siding?” Joeb says. The answer is in the complex detailing. Gutters are hidden between the siding and foot-thick wall assemblies and accessed for maintenance through removable boards milled to align with the gable end cladding. With their 1-inch gap, the heat-stabilized siding boards keep leaves out of the gutter system, which captures rainwater and disperses it on the site. Deep overhangs at the window openings provide solar shading. “The cedar is a very low-maintenance solution compared to cypress with a Sikkens stain that has to be varnished every three to six years,” Joeb says. “These will look like outbuildings that have been part of their environment for a very long time, like barns.”

Inside, a simple mill package keeps the focus on the outdoors. Window frames are recessed into the floors, walls, and ceilings, giving the impression that you could walk straight through them. The meadow below the house hides a photovoltaic array that provides the main power source. “It took two years to develop the house and landscape strategies, working very collaboratively with the landscape architects and the owners,” Joeb says. The effort shows. “They crushed the concept,” a judge said.

Honor Award

Custom Period or Vernacular House

Joeb Moore & Partners

Hill House

Lakeville, Connecticut

Project Credits

Architect: Joeb Moore, FAIA, principal in charge; Devin Picardi, AIA, project architect; Thalassa Curtis; Robert Scott, Joeb Moore & Partners, Greenwich, Connecticut

Builder: Richard E. McCue, Inc., Lakeville, Connecticut

Interior designer: Rebecca Wu-Norman, WUNO, New York, New York

Landscape architect: Reed Hilderbrand, New Haven, Connecticut

Structural engineer: Edward Stanley Engineers, Guilford, Connecticut

Civil engineer: Berkshire Engineering, Litchfield, Connecticut

Audiovisual design: Audio Visual Crafts, Long Island City, New York

Lighting design: Sighte Studio, Brooklyn, New York

Geotechnical engineer: GZA GeoEnvironmental, Trumbull, Connecticut

Project size: 5,800 square feet

Site size: 26 acres

Construction cost: Withheld

Photography: David Sundberg, ESTO

Key Products

Cabinetry: Troy Cabinet Makers

Countertops: Marble, butcher block, Corian

Doors: Classic Door Supply

Entrance doors: UNILUX, Pivot Door Company

Garage doors: Torrington Overhead Door Co.

Glass: Guardian

Hardware: Locksets FSB, Accurate, RAJACK (cabinet pulls), Pardon Fabrication & Design (custom pocket doors)

Home control: Lutron HomeWorks

Kitchen/laundry appliances: Miele

Lighting: Bega, Tech Lighting, Lucifer, Pinnacle Lighting

Metal/glass curtain wall/sliding doors/wood frame windows: UNILUX

Moisture barrier: ZIP System

Paints/stains/coatings: Benjamin Moore

Photovoltaics: Aegis Solar Energy

Pocket door tracks: Sugatsune

Roof and exterior cladding: Western red cedar