Project Page – Algonquin Residence


Algonquin Residence


Residential, Waterfront Development


Virginia Society AIA Design Excellence Award

AIA Hampton Roads Design Honor Award

In 1990, the owners of the Algonquin Residence were introduced to Donna Phaneuf, FAIA to discuss their needs for a kitchen expansion, other interior alterations and a new boat building shop. Today, they still reside at their home, practice master gardening in the front courtyard, and operate the shop. VIA’s approach to site sensitive contextual design focuses on understanding clients and the environment of each property. Spending significant time with the owner’s specific insight was gained into their personalities, lifestyle, and passions. Learning about the owner’s love for cooking and gardening and the need for the overall site planning, the design captured the details and essence of the clients’ interests. Sitting down with one of the owners Donna became fascinated by his shipwright hobby and learned the needs for the new boat shop program, the movement of material in and out, and special features necessary to make the shop flow efficiently and effectively.

The owners of the Algonquin Residence became Donna’s first client and her company, VIA design architects, pc, was launched in 1991. The completion of the project in 1992 brought the ultimate and incredible surprise of earning two AIA design awards for this work. VIA design earned a Virginia Society AIA Design Award of Excellence in 1993 and an AIA Hampton Roads Honors Design Award in 1994.

Wanchese, NC is home to the original world-renowned Hatteras Sportfisher style boats and the magnificent boat shops and yards that produce them. Donna’s childhood experiences in Wanchese NC at the boat building yards observing the fascinating material flow of these shops were foundational to her understanding of the client’s needs. These memories coupled with her in-depth conversations with the owner enabled the design to be a ‘custom to fit the task’ shop.

Boat Shop Design
The owner, a highly revered heart surgeon, is equally recognized for his shipwright skills. His previous boat building shop was dilapidated and inadequate for his hobby. The original shop was a catawampus old Norfolk garage that had undergone multiple ad hoc expansions. It was loved by the termites, leaned forward, leftward, did not have a foundation, and the roof ridge beam sagged. It was a candidate for razing, to make way for a new ‘custom to fit the task’ boat building shop. The new shop had to work well for all the future boats he envisioned building and no matter what, he said, “it has to look like it has always been here”. The challenge was on! How do you construct a building of this magnitude and purpose in the front yard to appear as if it has always been there?

The property is narrow at the street but deep toward the Lafayette River and broad along the water’s edge; a wedge shape. The existing house resides close to the waterside of the property and the Chesapeake
Bay Preservation Act restricted the rear yard from development. The pie shaped property drove a natural response to place the new 20’ X 50’ boat bay in the front yard tight to the east property line such that the shop doors would open directly to the street on the front side and to the waterfront on the rear side.
This essentially allowed boat building materials to run straight through the building, changing form along the way, and launch at the shoreline on the opposite end in the form of a boat. The gateways that made this possible on each end of the building are pairs of 18-foot-high gabled doors constructed of laminated vertical trusses built of triple 2X12 members sealed and stabilized with marine West System. The rigid steel frame and heavy 2X framing infill bring forward a hurricane resistant structure for the family’s shelter. It also supports a continuous chain fall rail which runs the full length of the shop on the ridge beam and is used for lifting engines, turning boats and launching.

Style + Resilience
The owner steered the support needs for the cooking, gardening and lifestyle passions. Her cues guided the addition and alteration design for a daylit gourmet kitchen, open dining area, a fully wheelchair accessible new front entry, and a new master bedroom suite.

Craftsman style architecture is composed of very strong forms and details. The existing house offered excellent cues for inspiration and elements for weaving into the expanded kitchen, the new boat shop, entry porch enclosure, and additional west wing to seamlessly blend the entire complex of structures together.

Over 20 major hurricanes have closely threatened Hampton Roads since 1992, not including the dozens of major nor’easter storms that occur yearly. These storm events bring ever increasing intense weather conditions and high levels of coastal flooding. The use of commercial scale superstructure framing, high quality windows, doors and materials were forward thinking before “resiliency” was popular permitting the Algonquin Residence to stand the test of time.

Boat Production
In 1994, a 38’ Chesapeake Bay Skipjack, named the Sally Hubbard, rolled out of the shop and was launched over the bulkhead by an E.T. Gresham construction crane. A beautiful 40’ Chesapeake Bay deadrise, named the “Elizabeth C,” was soon to follow. The boat production list goes on….multiple flats boats, canoes and sailboats of all sizes and even little hunting sneaks called “pumpkin seeds”. This family’s namesake and legacy will live forever as these large skipjacks and deadrise boats were donated to the Nature Conservancy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to support their natural heritage Eco Educational programs.

Project Gallery

Boat Workshop And Addition

Entry Way After Second Addition

Addition Details

Second Addition Details

Beam Detail Matching Window Pattern

Boat Workshop And Addition

Boat Workshop Open At Both Ends

Opening The Boat Workshop Doors

Lafayette River Viewed Through The Boat Workshop During Construction

Boat Workshop Open At Both Ends

Boat Workshop Open To The Lafayette River

Remodeled Kitchen

Launching Of The Elisabeth C, One Of The First Two Boats Constructed In The Boat Shop

previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow
previous arrownext arrow