The Modern Mill is a six-unit multi-family residential development along a scenic river’s edge sited among a series of renovated historical mill buildings in Williamstown, Massachusetts.This is a rare opportunity for our practice to work on rural housing at a mid-density scale. As we continue our fascination of reinterpreting typology and the vernacular, we were impassioned to explore a contemporary transformation of a typical mill building of this region. The building contains six loft units, each eroding the boundary between interior and exterior through the use of double height ceilings, large windows, and numerous recessed terraces. An extremely efficient entry and common area maximizes one’s sense of space in each unit and helps orient the living areas toward the adjacent river, taking advantage of the picturesque views. The exterior of the building is a rhythm of thick and thin vertical bands made of warm cedar and painted fiber cement. This strategy increases the perceived height of the building while subdividing the larger mass. Drainage and windows are integrated into these varied bands. Carved balconies break the roofline and provide access to the outdoors. Each “color carve” (for balconies and drainage) helps to tie the palette back to the historical red brick throughout the existing buildings on site. The contemporary single sloped interpretation of the mill typology sets up a dialogue with the neighboring structures, while bridging both the scale and materiality of the adjacent two-family homes.


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