Focus: Hammer Architects

Cape Cod Home  /  Annual Home 2021 /

Writer: Cape Cod Life Publications

Modern Light: Hammer Architect’s designs translate the Cape Cod landscape in a modern vocabulary.

Inspired by the surrounding land and seascape, and the modernist heritage of the region, homes designed by Hammer Architects both compliment and contrast with the coastal environment of Cape Cod. For over 20 years, Hammer Architects has established itself as a premiere design firm for new-build and renovations for the greater Boston and Cape region. 

The sleek, modern designs produced by Hammer are built with a deep understanding of the site and environment, be it the colonial-lined streets of Provincetown to the bluffs of Truro. Founder and principal architect Mark Hammer lets the context influence and inform the design of the architecture for his clients. More remote projects, like the ones sited near the beaches and woods of Wellfleet, harness the geometry, geography, and materials of their surroundings in a modernist vocabulary. The forms are fragmented artistically in the design of a client’s home and reflected in the broad spans of glass that figure prominently into many of Hammer’s designs. 

“Our Cape Cod work is very much influenced by its setting and context…it’s informed by the history and the nature of construction there,” says Hammer. “We want the building to look like it might have always been there, that it belongs.” 

These homes are modern in form and style but incorporate themes that echo the history of the Cape. They reference a tradition of modern architects, like Marcel Breuer, Nathaniel Saltonstall and Serge Chermayeff who investigated the unique environment of the region through design. Through use of materials endemic to the region and simplified, geometric forms, Hammer Architects create designs that stylistically echo and enhance the many facets of the Cape landscape.

“A lot of our clients have told me they love the fact that the building, after they have lived in it for three or four years, has disappeared into the woods,” says Hammer of projects like the one in Wellfleet Woods. He continues, “It belongs; it weathers the same as the trees around it, and the colors are similar. It feels very appropriate to where it is.”

Hammer, a New Yorker who made his way to the Boston area in the 70s, started the firm in 1998. Don DiRocco joined the firm in 2005 and became a partner in 2018. The two bring an extensive wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise to each project taken on by the firm. The small, full time staff of four at Hammer Architects applies their decades of combined expertise and artistry to ensure that each completed project belongs to the site organically, and harmonizes with the land or streetscape of their setting. To Mark Hammer, when this seamless merging of new construction and context occurs through design gestures both inside and out, it means the project is a success. 

The firm, with offices in Cambridge and Provincetown, takes on a range of projects, encompassing residential, commercial and academic. Renovations and additions to contemporary and historic structures are done with a sensitive melding of the past and the current needs of the clients. While these present distinct challenges for new construction, Hammer Architects approaches each project with a sensitivity to context, whatever size or scope.

 “Architecture is really a process,” says Hammer. “It’s a matter of accommodating a program within a site that has certain determinants, considering where the sun comes from, where the winds are, and where the views are. It’s a matter of working with our clients and solving problems along the way. It’s a process of discovery.”