Architecture on the Bay

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE TIDEWATER STYLE AND WHAT MATERIALS AND ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH IT?
As is the case with many American vernacular styles, the Tidewater style found in the Chesapeake Bay region is characterized by simple geometric shapes, uncomplicated rooflines, windows that are typically double-hung and walls clad in one dominant material: brick, wood-lap or vertical-board siding, or cedar shingle. Paired chimneys often accompany these simple forms. Other common architectural elements include deep porches and balconies—which, far from being truncated, actually facilitate indoor-outdoor activity and blend inside and outside living.

Tidewater style draws deeply on the historic richness of the region in its vernacular forms, and on its roots in both farming and maritime building traditions. Precedents can be drawn from Colonial to early 20th-century farm buildings, many of which are still standing. Materials and architectural elements can be traditionally reproduced or abstracted into modern forms. For instance, the project pictured here drew the form of the main house from early 20th-century farmhouses in the area and modeled the other buildings on farm structures that would have been related to it. We simplified and modernized these familiar forms through materials, varied windows and glass hyphens. —Devin Kimmel, AIA, ASLA, Kimmel Studio Architects, Annapolis, Maryland

When designing a large, Tidewater style house on the Wye River, Kimmel Studio Architects reinterpreted the vernacular language of the Chesapeake Bay area with a modern edge. Builder: Lynbrook of Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland. Photography: Pete Albert.