Feb 152013



Friday, February 15, 2013

For many, gifts that have been passed down from mothers and fathers, and to them from their parents, are among their most precious possessions. Often, it’s a piece of jewelry or a well-crafted piece of furniture.

Those objects become something we identify with, and wearing grandma’s pearls or playing that old guitar becomes a way of keeping our past alive.

Architect Mark Hutker has made a career of creating custom homes that elicit that same response. His New England-based clients tend, more often than not, to become so attached to the homes his team designs that they can’t imagine selling, and so they pass them down to their children.

The East Carolina University Department of Construction Management and AIA North Carolina Eastern Section will host Hutker on Monday as he speaks about how his team works with builders to create homes that will be kept within families for generations.

Cooperation with builders is essential, in addition to developing a close working relationship with interior designers and landscape architects on every project, to pursue quality craftsmanship and a cohesive look while keeping the project on time and on budget.

“This is the fourth time we’ve done this with the North Carolina AIA,” said David Batie, who is the undergraduate program director of ECU’s Department of Construction Management. “We do that so that our students have an opportunity to meet architects from across the industry.”

“Because Mark is a residential designer and we have a residential construction concentration in our department, there’s a great interest there.”

Batie said he’s also received interest from those in the lecture because they want to pursue building their own homes.

Hutker Architects Inc. has offices in Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass. Their designs have been featured in numerous publications including Coastal Living Magazine and Boston Globe Magazine. Among other awards, Hutker was inducted into the New England Design Hall of Fame in 2008. Hutker homes are exclusively featured in his book, “Heirlooms to Live in: Homes in a New Regional Vernacular.”

The idea for the book was born when a consultant for the company went searching for feedback from previous clients.

“Our consultant said ‘every one of the clients went out of their way to tell me how much better and how far their expectations had been exceeded by the quality of the environment that was created for their families,’” Hutker said. “They went on to say, ‘we’re going to hold onto this house and we’re going to give it to our kids.’ So then we began to wonder how many houses that we’ve designed have been sold.”

The answer was remarkable: of the more than 200 houses that were either designed from scratch or had major renovations by Hutker Architects, just four have changed hands outside of the family for which they were originally designed.

“It sounds like we’re designing houses that have somehow deep meaning for the clients and they want to pass them down,” he said. “What is it called when you love something and you want your kids to have it? Well, that’s an heirloom.”

But for something to have that lasting quality, it has to be constructed properly, hence Hutker’s mission: to build once well.

The goal is to balance the history of the buildings in New England with modern technology and a knowledge of how people live and families develop today.

“If we overcommit to the technologies we have, to ‘be green,’ sometimes we miss the parts that make them fun to live in and beautiful to live in,” he said. “I want to make sure there’s a wonderful balance in creating really comfortable homes that are memorable and that people long to spend time in.

“You can do all these technical things, but if people really aren’t connected to their home in a really deep-seated way, then it’s going to get changed and things are going to get recycled and they’re going to spend more energy making it something different, over time. So we want to build well up front so that it will withstand the test of time.”

Contact Natalie Sayewich at 252-325-9596 or nsayewich@reflector.com.

via The Daily Reflector.


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