The very phrase “My Favorite Project” seems a loaded issue. I have been blessed to spend nearly forty years building many things - most of them I am still proud to recall, and many of which thrilled me at the time. But what is a career, if one will not take a stand on its best bit? For me, The Parker Room simply Had It All: fabulous site and raising weather, fine/fun design, great timbers, spectacular client (two great generations of them), a TV crew recording much of the fun for posterity - and kilts.
Hank Parker was my principal Ph.D. advisor at Stanford. Truly, I only got their Exxon Fellowship because of The Most Amazing Phone Call of My Life, which I shared with Hank on my thirtieth birthday (another story, entirely). Hank was born, reared, and educated in New Hampshire. He still owns the “family farm” atop a rugged hill/mountain in the White Mountains. My family and I have been lucky enough to visit “The Berry Farm,” for: show shoeing, maple sugaring, wood stove hot tubbing, pond swimming, jolly meals and moose bashing.
I have, to some extent, become a Parker Family Member. So it was only with some trepidation that I even agreed to undertake building a home for one of Hank’s sons, David. That lovely home, at the base of Aspen Highlands, went so well (though I still wonder if David and his son, Witt, were actually trying to kill me that day in those hiking-only access bowls) that I was prepared to pursue with enthusiasm Hank’s suggestion that we add a great room to the view side of the wonderful farmhouse that serves as the heart of the Berry Farm.
We designed a timber framed room, with a spiral stair in the corner, as Hank had envisioned and requested. Well along in the process, we were contacted by Back to the Blueprints, a TV program looking for photogenic projects that involved a design/build process. The Parker Room was the perfect candidate. Autumn weather in the White Mountains can be unpredictable, and in the extreme. Our raising week, though, enjoyed its most sublime version. The foliage colors were at their utmost, the skies cloudless, the temperatures Delawareic.
David showed up for the raising event and proved as helpful as expected. Hank and Polly were pillars; as clients, hosts, and TV personalities. For one beautiful afternoon, Hank, David, and I donned kilts and cavorted about the building site, filming set, and hilltop farm preparing meals and otherwise encouraging the assembled crews. I could go on, at some length, about this project and that site exertion. I could, also, refer you to the broadcast version, should you be so very interested.