Epstein Joslin Architects

Private Dwellings

The Floating Peak House

Newton, MA

A single-family residence is carefully set within the site of the historic gardens of a former estate. A new collection of fieldstone walls running through and beyond the house encloses the private gardens and entertainment spaces of the house from the entry drive. Natural materials, such as limestone flooring, fieldstone hearths, exposed heavy timbers, and wood ceiling decking, frame clerestory and floor to ceiling windows and harmonize with views of the garden. An atrium stair with south-facing windows, and artfully shaded by glass tube solar hot water collectors, leads to the guest and nanny bedrooms above. Beyond these "public" guest spaces, the secluded private sleeping and study areas of the second level float above the mostly glass walls of the main living areas below. Within that, a glass curtain wall adjoining a floating steel stair exposes to view the undersides of the branches of a giant Cedar of Lebanon tree as one climbs to or from the second level. The subtle play of steel, oak, walnut and ornamental colored glass create a rhythm of screens, railings and detailed cabinetry that begins at the front door and extends throughout the house. Energy efficient features include thin film photovoltaics on the south-facing roof of the main volume to help power the geothermal heat pump that provides much of the heating and cooling for the house.

Images copyright Robert Benson (large images on 1,3-5,7,10-13,14-25) and Alan Joslin (all others)

Project Completion Date

March 2010

Project Cost


Project Size

10,200 sq ft



Owner's Representative



Kistler & Knapp Builders, Inc.
Acton, MA


Epstein Joslin Architects

Alan Joslin, Principal in Charge
Robert Picardy, Sr. Designer
Elizabeth Nguyen, Designer

Consultants for design team

Structure: Roome and Guarracino
HVAC: Sun Engineering
Plumbing: Liston, Nangle and White
Electrical: Liston, Nangle and White
Lighting: Ripman Lighting Consultants
Landscape: Stephen Stimson Associates
Civil Engineering: BSC Group, Inc.
Furnishings: Andra Birkerts Design
Rugs: Lawrence Kearney
80 Trowbridge Street Cambridge, MA 02138 telephone: 617-868-1766 fax: 617-661-1148