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Copper House in Belmont

Contemporary Massachusetts Residence design by Charles Rose Architects, USA

Oct 15, 2014

Location: Belmont, Massachusetts, USA

Design: Charles Rose Architects

Copper House in Massachusetts

Copper House Belmont, Massachusetts

Photos © John Linden

Copper House in Massachusetts

Major addition, renovation. Contemporary two-story bar joined to existing three-story Colonial; on 1st floor new kitchen, dining and living space; master bedroom and individual offices for couple on 2nd; renovation of spaces adjoining addition to match open, contemporary feel.

Charles Rose Architects rarely work on renovations. In this case, the original house was a Colonial box with vinyl siding; it was poorly sited, and a garage cut it off from a spacious yard. Yet it had charm: cozy rooms, a downstairs bedroom suite, and ample usable space. The project called for—in essence—adding a house to the existing house, and the complexity and challenge proved too hard to resist.

Our design created a slot for the addition by demolishing the garage and using surplus driveway space. This move anchored the new house in the landscape while ensuring that it wouldn’t eat up valuable green space, despite its large scale. The most challenging aspect was one of fit: by style and scale. Stylistically, we were marrying a modern glass and copper house to a Colonial. Moreover, integration was daunting: the high-ceilings and open volumes of the planned addition did not align with the Colonial’s tighter and more compressed spaces.

To confront the central challenge of stitching together old and new—we used strategies that both hid and heightened transitions. Outside, we put a new wrapper on the Colonial: a cedar box. We kept practically everything as it was: window frames became sculptural indentations; old panes were replaced with single sheets of glass. Inside, we put a three-story atrium, topped by six large skylights – where old and new meet.

We made this the formal entryway: The front door leads visitors into a small vestibule that opens into the atrium. A steel-and-glass stair climbs from the stone atrium floor to upper level of the addition. A second sculptural stair—a steel-and-glass bridge—crosses the atrium and links the second floors in the addition and the Colonial, heightening the contrast. A curtain wall of glass runs the length of the kitchen and living spaces, bringing the outdoors inside. The plan is open; the ground-floor stair, granite dining room server and bluestone fireplace are designed to delineate room areas.

Copper House in Massachusetts – Real Estate Information

Materials: Bright copper; cedar; painted steel; mahogany and Alaskan yellow cedar windows; flagstone; beech; bamboo; rosewood; patinated stainless steel.
Completed: 2004

Photographs © John Linden

Copper House

Copper House in Massachusetts images / information from Charles Rose Architects

“Copper House” by Charles Rose Architects Gets a Starring Role in the New Robert Downey Jr. Movie, The Judge

A new movie The Judge, released October 10th, showcases along with the dazzling cast of Hollywood stars a house that has a fascinating story of its own.

Charles Rose and David Dobkin
Charles Rose and director David Dobkin on the set of The Judge

Designed by Charles Rose Architects, “Copper House” provides the story with a dramatic setting as the home of the film’s main character, a Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer, played by Robert Downey, Jr., who returns to his hometown where his father, the town judge is accused of murder.

In the real life, the Belmont, Massachusetts-based house is the residence of the firm’s principal, Charles Rose. An exceptional renovation project, it made headlines upon its completion in 2004 for the unique solutions required to merge the old with the new. The sleek, sculptural structure contains inside a “Colonial box with vinyl siding”: a house within a house. “Glossy Skin, Vinyl-Clad Heart,” read the title of the article in

Charles Rose and David Dobkin
Charles Rose and director David Dobkin on the set of The Judge

The New York Times. The architect, known for its sensitivity to the distinct characteristics of a site, wrapped the original house in a cedar box and added glass and copper extensions, creating a striking structure fit for a movie screen.

“The experience of working with the film crew was wonderful,” said Charles Rose. “Director David Dobkin was intimately involved in choosing the house and he really has a keen eye for interpreting the architectural space and capturing the architectural experience in film-which is not easy to do. My work is very sculptural and cinematic and relies on movement through space and form. David made use of this feature and one experiences this dynamic as Robert Downey Jr. moves through the house.”

Copper House in Massachusetts image / information received 151014 from Charles Rose Architects USA

Location: Belmont, Massachusetts, United States of America

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