A Room for a View

Helmed by Moskow Linn Architects, a student workshop in Norwich, Vermont, results in a one-of-a-kind building.

Looking out through the main viewing portal. / Photograph courtesy of Moskow Linn Architects

In many architecture curriculums, students learn plenty of design theory, but gain little hands-on construction experience. In 2011, Keith Moskow and Robert Linn (principals of the Boston-based architecture firm Moskow Linn) decided to tackle this discrepancy by founding Studio North, a six-day building boot camp for students held in the middle of the Vermont woods.

The program, which recently wrapped up its seventh year, brings together students of all carpentry skill levels (“Some students literally have to learn how to hammer a nail,” Linn says) and instructs them in drawing, planning, and building a wooden structure. To ensure that construction starts by the end of day one, the architects outline basic design concepts before the session begins. For 2016’s build, there was just one constraint: The project needed to be built on a trailer. Keeping mobility in mind, the architects landed on an idea for a so-called “viewing structure.” “Often, you’re designing around a specific view or aspect of the site,” Moskow says. “But here, we wanted something that could be rolled into place to focus on a specific vantage point.”

After brainstorming, the group came up with “Room for a View,” a curved, 10-foot-tall pinewood structure with a sloping roof, a narrow deck, and three “lenses” through which to peer. “It’s almost like a camera in a sense,” Moskow says. Its construction process was as unconventional as its concept: Instead of erecting the walls and then joining the roof, the team built each side as a wall-and-roof truss that they tilted into place before reinforcing and cladding them together. As a finishing touch, students applied a dark stain to the interior to accentuate the framed views.

With its rolling base and singular objective, the resulting structure is undeniably unique, even to its experienced lead designers. “This felt different from anything we’ve made before,” Linn says. As for its student builders, they now have a tangible product to be proud of—and add to their portfolios. “It’s a very rewarding experience,” Moskow says.

“Room for a View” in its cladding stage. / Photograph courtesy of Moskow Linn Architects

The biggest challenge for the students, Linn says, was accommodating all the curves: “Every single piece changes size as you move from one end to another. It took a lot of foresight to think about how to size, measure, and dimension the pieces.” / Photograph courtesy of Moskow Linn Architects