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May 12, 2020

Sortwell Chandlery Receives AIA Maine Award


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We are proud to announce that Whitten Architects has received an AIA Maine Merit Award for the renovation and adaptive re-use of the Sortwell Chandlery. We are grateful to our collaborators on this project: Pearson Construction, Albert Putnam Associates (structural engineering), Soren Deniord Landscape Architecture, and Walsh Engineering Associates, Inc. (site and civil engineering), and of course to our clients.

Yearly, AIA Maine sponsors a juried review of Maine architecture to recognize the important and diverse work of Maine architects. The jurors are nationally recognized peers who, after reviewing and critiquing the entries, select outstanding projects for recognition. This year's Wisconsin-based jury included Allen Washatko, principal at the Kubala Washatko Architects (TKWA); David Black, principal at Flad Architects; Jim Shields, principal at HGA; John Vetter, principal at Vetter Architects; Nick Carnahan, principal at Galbraith Carnahan Architects (GCA); and Ursula Twombly, formerly a principal at Continuum Architects and Planners. Out of 63 total submissions, the jury ultimately chose 15 projects representing categories that included Single-Family Residential, Institutional & Commercial, Renovation & Adaptive Reuse, Small Projects Under $250,000, Unbuilt, and Student.

Situated at the water's edge, chandleries are buildings that provision merchant vessels and sailing ships. On a coastal site rich with history, the 200-year-old Sortwell Chandlery has remained even longer than the house that accompanied it because its location and character have been treasured since its construction. In recent years, however, rising sea levels had put the Chandlery at risk. Our design team led by architect Will Fellis repositioned and elevated the structure to provide a new foundation that accommodates today's higher water surges, leaving the old extents of the foundation and maintaining the character of the original structure.

To accommodate modern living, the architectural program included a new kitchen, new bathrooms, insulation, a new stair, a new electrical system, and a wood stove with supplemental propane heat to extend the structure's use into early spring and late fall. Because of proximity to the water's edge, a screened porch was carved out of the southeast corner, which maintains the structure's original feel while meeting setback requirements. We worked closely with the local historical society, the local planning board, and the Department of Environmental Protection to lift, reposition, and design a compatible addition to the Chandlery.

"The Sortwell Chandlery is a truly admirable effort to save an endangered  structure," commented the jury. "We commend the architect on the heroic measures taken to save the building, with the subtle and surgical ways that it was altered to  serve the family for the next 200 years."

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