Set on sloping terrain with coastal restrictions, Back River by Mark Hutker, Thomas McNeill, and Deepa Parthasarathy of Hutker Architects with landscape architects Horiuchi Solien, breaks with conventions, marrying classic and enduring styles with modern technology and durable, long-lasting materials.
Back River’s site posed a design challenge that required unique solutions to achieve the desired program while speaking to the vernacular of historic homes in the area.
It presents itself as a modest, single-story home from the street, but the transparent main entry door breaks with convention, revealing a two-story, fully glazed rear wall with panoramic views of the ocean and backyard.
For its comprehensive design approach, Back River has recently been awarded a 2022 American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
Built as an heirloom worthy of preservation, Back River is expected to provide long-term value to the homeowners over multiple generations.
The home’s design marries classic and enduring stylistic conventions with modern technology and durable materials that will serve inhabitants well into the future.
The residence’s creative design respects the scale of the homes in the neighborhood while providing the necessary space for a large and growing extended family.
The health and well-being of the adjacent salt marsh informed the design approach, revitalizing the natural ecosystem by removing invasive vegetation.
Coastal restrictions encouraged the intermingling of architecture and landscape to minimize the home’s footprint while adhering to the homeowner’s programmatic requirements.
The great room culminates in what is perhaps the home’s most striking feature—a cantilevered screen porch that extends 16’ over the pool terrace, enabling a single cube of lot coverage to serve as both shaded exterior space and an unparalleled indoor experience.
In collaboration with the landscape architect, Horiuchi Solien, the design team organized the removal of invasive species that occupied the edge of the marsh.
The landscape architect specified plant materials that were native to the marsh and greater region, renewing and connecting the site to its natural ecosystem, and ensuring that over 90% of the post-development site area continued to support natural vegetation.
The design team began by researching Duxbury’s maritime traditions, its roots as Native American fishing grounds, and as an early American colonial settlement.
At the highest level, this home respects the regional sense of place but advances methods of construction in a new way that honors the historic traditions.
The design references surrounding homes in its eve and sill details, fireplaces and chimneys, mullion packages, and more.
Back River celebrates local vernacular in its iconic Tory chimney, bracketed gutters, and cedar siding with a project team comprised of contractors and subcontractors for carpentry, masonry, timber work, painting, and landscape from local companies with equitable labor practices.
Set against this referential milieu, black steel “viewfinders” give the home a character of its own, framing the visitor experience and guiding them through the entry sequence into a moment of site immersion.
The glass stair hall and half-level placement of bedroom floors create dynamic circulation, while details such as a second-story outdoor shower adjacent to the primary suite provide moments of unexpected delight.
A cantilevered screen porch perched alongside the trees engages a multitude of occupants’ senses while reinforcing the connection to the surrounding site.
All regularly occupied gathering spaces are granted a view of the landscape beyond, which in turn provides ample natural lighting and promotes movement across spaces throughout the day.
Project: Back River
Architects: Hutker Architects
Design Team: Mark Hutker, Thomas McNeill, and Deepa Parthasarathy
Landscape Architects: Horiuchi Solien, Inc.
General Contractor: Sea View Construction
Photographer: Michael J. Lee Photography