Vassar Quarterly - Spring 2018 - 28
ment with conservation and low impact."
She wants to see the Hudson Valley and places
like it developed in a new way. The homes are built
out of structurally insulated panels of polystyrene
sandwiched between recycled wood composite to
create a long-lasting, solid material. Inside, they are
designed to feel like a lot of space in a small footprint
with walls of insulated glass, vaulted ceilings, and
audiovisual and smart-home technology already
embedded. "When you start designing, you realize
there is a lot of clunky design out there," Zemaitis
says. "You become obsessed with making sure
there is not a wasted corner or awkward spot."
People often think of modular homes as cookiecutter structures, but for Adam Kalkin '84, building
pre-fab housing is a way to exercise creativity with
one-of-a-kind custom projects. Kalkin's preferred
medium is shipping containers; he made a name
for himself with the 12 Container House, a 4,000square-foot, two-story home in Maine built in
2004 out of a dozen steel containers, connected
with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. He has
continued to expand his vision, finding new ways
to contort the basic forms.
"They are basically boxes, but it's amazing what
you can do with them; it's like riffing on a chord
in music. How many variations can you come up
with without exhausting the idea?" says Kalkin,
who was an artist before he became an architect.
"You can tip them on end, put hydraulics and
computer actualizers in them, combine them in
interesting ways. It's fun to see what kind of
emotion you can get out of these things that don't
have a lot of emotional content to begin with."
Each of his designs is unique, made in a warehouse studio in New Jersey and shipped all over
the world. Having that workspace allows him the
freedom to experiment with an array of tools and
equipment when fashioning his creations. "You
can basically have control over the whole process,"
It's just another way that architects are pushing
the boundaries of the field, using new technologies
and innovative building processes to change
Top: For Adam Kalkin '84, building pre-fab housing is an
exercise in creativity.
Right: Libby Murphy Zemaitis's New Paltz-based start-up,
Up Homes, develops modular and sustainable housing for
millennials. The 250-square-foot units may be combined
in various configurations.
"Steel shipping containers
are basically boxes, but it's
amazing what you can do
with them; it's like riffing
on a chord in music."
-Adam Kalkin '84