WMH Architects of Northeast Harbor won a major national award for this seasonal residence on Oak Point in Trenton. PHOTO COURTESY OF WMH ARCHITECTS

Architects win top award for ‘camp’

MOUNT DESERT — The renovation and expansion of a shorefront “camp” in Trenton, designed by WMH Architects of Northeast Harbor, has won Best in Show honors in a nationwide design competition, the ninth annual Marvin Architects Challenge.

The competition is sponsored by Marvin Windows & Doors in cooperation with the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The principals of WMH Architects are the married couple Bill Hanley and Heli Mesiniemi.

The project for which they were honored was the restoration of and addition to a seasonal home at Oak Point in Trenton.

“The skillfully executed design created a dramatic form that is open, airy and inviting, along with the tour de force of a large glazing wall,” said the competition’s three-judge panel.

The owner of the house, Jud Starr, described the merging of its old and new components far more eloquently: “It flows so well that I’m sure it flies away someplace when I’m not there and flies back when I return. It is a home with wings.”

The house was built by Starr’s parents, Bill and Eva, in 1962, while Bill was a professor at the University of Maine. They and two other UMaine couples commissioned Old Town architect Cooper Milliken to design three side-by-side camps for property they had purchased at Oak Point.

Hanley described Milliken as “one of the original Maine modernists.” And he said his first impression of Starr’s camp was of “an absolutely original, untouched, beautifully kept modernist masterpiece.”

Starr and his partner, Ginny Dean, wanted to renovate the kitchen and make a few other improvements. But in talking with Hanley and Mesiniemi about how they wanted to use the house into the future, the scope of the project expanded.

“The original house is not insulated, and we realized that building an addition was the only way to have insulation and heating,” Starr said. “Then we said, ‘Let’s have a corridor to connect the two so that it flows better.’

“It was almost like therapy, talking out what we needed with Bill and Heli, what we wanted to experience throughout at least three of the four seasons.”

When he isn’t in Maine, Starr lives in Washington, D.C., where he worked until last year as an environmental attorney. He accompanied Hanley and Mesiniemi to the AIA national conference in Orlando last month, where they received their award.

“He’s a tremendous proponent of the profession,” Hanley said.



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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