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Navigating the nuances

Sandwich harbormaster

Tarja McGrail of Coastal Engineering (which has offices in Sandwich, Orleans and Nantucket) was the project manager from the beginning. She oversaw a design of the stormwater drainage and septic systems intended to have minimal impact on the harbor. McGrail also worked closely with David DeConto, director of natural resources for the Sandwich Conservation Commission, when considering the landscape design program. Together they collaborated to choose native plantings that require less fertilization, irrigation as well as being more tolerant of the salty environment.

Tim Sawyer, the project architect, faced challenges that were “almost endless.” The marina property is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and leased to the town, so the ACE monitored the design process, as did the conservation and historic commissions.

“To make it more tricky, much of the site is in a flood zone,” says Sawyer, a project manager and associate architect with Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber of Yarmouth Port. “The majority of the site is pretty tight to the edge of the water, so there were only a few places the building could be.” Sawyer goes on to say, “We pride ourselves on waterfront-type buildings and all the permitting issues and code implications that go along with it. They’re interesting projects and usually satisfying projects.”

The new building is adjacent to the public boat ramp and was designed to serve as a welcoming gateway to the marina, whether people arrive by land or sea.

“Waterfront buildings in New England have a particular aesthetic, especially on Cape Cod, and they have a particular scale,” says Sawyer. “We were trying to work within that. Some of the vernacular that you’re working with are gabled forms at a residential scale, even though it’s a commercial building. You’re not trying to make it look like a residence. It’s kind of a hybrid of the two.”

The building’s classic materials include white cedar shingle walls and an asphalt shingle roof—“a very familiar palette of materials,” says Sawyer. “It’s very recognizable as Cape Cod construction.”

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