New Seabury home designed by John Dvorsack exceeds family’s expectations
Heather Shanahan couldn’t have been more pleased with the team’s synergy. “Scott, John and Deb had never worked together,” she says, “but this was truly a collaborative, creative effort. There were no egos involved; it was really impressive.” Unfortunately, Shanahan was battling cancer during most of the building process, so she had to put her faith in the team as she recovered. She says the knowledge of her new home’s progress provided a source of strength. “We had a tough six months leading up to our home’s completion,” she says. Berger adds, “The Shanahans didn’t want to see anything before the last Friday in June of 2015, when they would move in.”
The circumstances surrounding the project would enhance the element of surprise and impart an additional layer of importance. Says Berger, “It was really fun on a lot of levels, but it ramped up the pressure, too.” From an architectural standpoint, the project required a certain amount of wizardry to surmount a number of challenges. To begin with, there was already a house on the lot. Goldstein demolished it and excavated the old foundation in order to pour a new one. Dvorsack states, “The project was complex with respect to the site constraints. The lot was on the small side, and the design ‘program’ was extensive, including a pool, a spa, and a large patio.” Then there were the various building challenges inherent to site lines and height restrictions, New Seabury’s architectural review process, zoning, and environmental requirements. “We had to be very efficient with the allocation of space to comply with lot coverage,” Dvorsack continues. “An example of this was to combine the entry and dining room instead of having two distinct spaces.” One of the reasons the home is unassuming from the street is that New Seabury has a fairly dense population. “Great care had to be taken when locating the footprint of the house to respect the views and privacy of the adjacent properties,” Dvorsack says.
As the move-in day approached in June of 2015, the designing and building teams raced to complete the Shanahans’ home. Berger states, “In the six days leading up to it, we brought in everything—down to the Q-tips in the bathrooms.” Then, on the last Friday of the month, the family arrived for the magicians’ final act, “The Prestige.” Heather Shanahan states, “It was completely surreal. And the house was just beautiful. But what was equally important to us was the realization that so many people had worked together to create that moment for us. The entire team knew that seeing the house at the ‘big reveal’ had been the light at the end of the tunnel for us during my recovery and treatment. It was just a great moment.”
Chris White is a freelance writer who teaches English at Tabor Academy in Marion.
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