Hammer Architects has been busy building a reputation for itself in Massachusetts. The Cambridge-based architecture firm has spent the last several years designing some of the most beautiful homes across the state, combining local knowledge with a nuanced understanding of materials and detailing to produce tactile buildings at one with their picturesque surroundings.
Unsurprisingly, the starting point for the design of these extraordinary residences is found far beyond their walls — each home is embedded within a landscape that simply has to take center stage. “We initially analyze the site, views, solar orientation and zoning restrictions,” explains Mark Hammer, founder and principal of the eponymous firm. This in-depth analysis is then reconciled with the client’s wishlist to formulate a building that works for both its context and its client, simultaneously.
The resulting structures somehow manage to straddle the line between subtlety and drama, providing a show-stopping quality that is so synonymous with iconic modernist architecture, while never overwhelming the surrounding environment. For Hammer, the ingredients for a successful residence are deceptively simple: “Large windows for views, light and ventilation, an open plan, and zoning of public and private spaces” are the key components, according to the architect.
As with any truly successful project, though, the devil is in the details. The firm’s brand of modern vernacular architecture is underpinned by the use of high quality materials, from the structural beams to the tiniest components — including the use of virtually imperceptible fixtures and fittings.
One classic example is Hammer’s use of QuickDrain’s virtually invisible drains in the bathrooms, designed to blend in seamlessly with the kind of sleek, modern spaces that Hammer Architects specializes in conceiving. Hammer specified QuickDrain systems in the bathrooms of both North Pamet Ridge House — a sumptuous weekend retreat crafted from wood and glass in Truro, Massachusetts — and Corn Hill Residence, a modern beach house with panoramic views of Cape Cod Bay.
Hammer’s selection of QuickDrain for these distinctive residences was as much about functionality as aesthetics. “We specified curbless showers for their barrier free design, ideal for aging in place, as well as their clean design,” explains the architect. When accessibility is a key consideration, QuickDrain is a go-to choice for Hammer Architects — when installed with a curbless entrance, the QuickDrain system creates a seamless transition from dry to wet areas that is fully ADA compliant.
Thankfully, the highly functional qualities of these components do not force Hammer Architects to compromise its signature architectural language, nor necessitate a complex process to integrate them with other materials in each new construction. “The installation is simple and elegant,” says Hammer, selecting adjectives that could be used to describe his firm’s entire portfolio.
His clients are fans of QuickDrain too, and it’s no wonder: Thanks to the ability to lay large format tiles adjacent to the drain system, maintenance of grout lines and joints is reduced, and the shower area is easier to clean as a result.
These details are symptomatic of Hammer Architects’ wider design approach, which seeks to balance utility and aesthetics to create a property that lifts the spirit of its inhabitants — while allowing them to live comfortably with the help of practical design solutions. It’s an approach that is only made possible through the use of reliable, easy-to-integrate products like QuickDrain shower systems, so it’s no surprise that Hammer specifies them time and again for his acclaimed residential projects. “We utilize the system whenever possible, especially in new homes,” says the architect.
The lesson appears to be this: Like a craftsperson that is intimately connected to their tools, an architect that masters the use of their favorite materials and products is able to produce their best work. With this simple philosophy perfected, Hammer Architects will undoubtedly be creating beautiful homes for many years to come.