Focus: ERT Architects

Cape Cod Home  /  Annual Home 2021 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Erik Tolley from ERT Architects acknowledges the history of the region as he designs homes for the future.

A leader in architectural design, Erik Tolley, Principal Architect of ERT Architects, has brought clients’ visions to fruition for almost twenty years. Founded in 2001, ERT Architects has designed over 700 architectural and interior design projects across New England. Tolley focuses on creating heirlooms that will last families for generations to come, rooted in a passion for the tradition in Cape Cod homes.

When asked where he finds inspiration, Tolley says a drive along Route 6A, through Barnstable Village and Yarmouth Port, or through the historic areas of Chatham, Orleans, and Provincetown will reveal traditional Cape Cod homes that have remained standing for generations. “They are grand without being overly showy, distinctive yet classic in style. Our approach to designing a home reflects this Cape Cod vernacular, while being thoughtful of the way families live today.” Tolley says. The homes he designs are completely customized for each specific client. At the same time, an ERT-designed home will feel as if it belongs here, complementing the surrounding history or other neighborhood characteristics. In other words, their homes meet today’s expectations and evolve for tomorrow’s demands.

Tolley talks about the ever-present influence of history on the region and architecture in general. “Early settlers on Cape Cod made a concerted effort to build homes of substance. Many still stand; thoughtfully designed, well-built homes matter here, and they always have. The homes we design are often summer or ‘second’ homes, many of which are on the water. Making those homes comfortable for our clients is paramount to our philosophy.”

He goes on to say, “Our design process is not about putting our signature on a home. It is about bringing our client’s vision to life. This is true of the aesthetic of a home, as well as the way it functions. While a home’s form is important, if its functionality isn’t thoughtfully considered, it has missed the mark.” Tolley’s repeat clients have an unspoken confidence in the firm, often engaging in multiple projects.

ERT sees great importance in understanding how a family lives before designing a home that will appropriately meet their needs. This is a time-consuming process, but paramount to the completion of a well-executed design. In the early stages, this involves considering how a family lives today, but also imagining how life will look in the future. Tolley understands how to listen and suggest new ideas that may not have initially occurred. The result is a fluid design that encompasses functionality as well as aesthetic preferences.

“Every home we design is completely customized for a specific client. At the same time, an ERT-designed home will feel as if it belongs here and is of the time and place. It is our hope that a home we design is enjoyed by our client the moment they move in, as well as by their children and grandchildren in the future,” Tolley shares. Whether it be a summer getaway or a home transitioning to a year-round retirement oasis, Tolley is committed to designing the right space for any needs.

ERT Architects provides an unmatched level of coastal building expertise. Each innovative design strives to honor the tradition of the area. Taking a holistic approach to architecture, the firm builds into the natural landscape of Cape Cod. The team is also passionate about incorporating environmentally responsible practices into homes, committed to creating sustainable builds. Many elements of “green design” are often utilized, including the preservation of open spaces, water conservation, as well as solar and geothermal design. 

From an early age, Tolley had a passion for art, building, and constructing. As a professional, his passion is not only for design, but also in the joy of witnessing a client’s dream home come to fruition. “It is incredibly rewarding to do something that is so impactful on our clients’ lives,” he says. 

With an unmatched level of professionalism and expertise brought to every project, ERT displays thoughtfulness not only for the present, but for the future. ERT Architects’ philosophy, “Inspired design that transcends place and time,” is the foundation upon which every project is built. What truly distinguishes ERT Architects is their passion for designing homes that not only embody their clients, but become woven into the landscape of the Cape.