A Terrific New Tome | Ferguson Shamamian

Ferguson ShamamianAs soon as I saw this book was being published, I knew I had to have it. New Traditional Architecture: Ferguson & Shamamian Architects is a beautiful oversized monograph of one of the most distinguished architectural firms practicing classical design today. Close to thirty residences are featured, with large detailed photos and accompanying project descriptions written by Mark Ferguson and Oscar Shamamian themselves, assisted by Joseph Giovannini. In his foreword, Richard Guy Wilson, chair of the Department of Architectural History at the University of Virginia, describes them aptly as a client oriented firm which wants to “further American traditions,” following in the tradition of McKim, Mead & White and Delano & Aldrich. Although I found Wilson’s praise oddly a bit restrained with a rather modified, third party commitment to endorsement, he summed up,  “True, many of Ferguson & Shamamian’s houses are very large and ambitious, however, they are thoughtful designs that contain the spark of beauty, history, and grace.” For such an accomplished team, I’m surprised they couldn’t find a more enthusiastic supporter to introduce this splendid tome. They should have asked me!

Ferguson and Shamamian established their partnership in 1988, after having joined forces while working at Parish-Hadley. It was this period that honed their “understanding of the essential fusion of interiors and exteriors, and of architecture and interior design” which informs so much of their work today. It shouldn’t surprise you that alumni from this firm include, among others, Gil Schafer.  And the interior designs for these homes read like a who’s who in the industry – from one of their most frequent collaborators, Bunny Williams to Michael Smith, Mario Buatta, Victoria Hagan and the late Mark Hampton, the houses are exceptional inside and out.  While many of these homes are featured on their website, I like having the descriptions with the background information and it is luxurious to have them collected in book form. The large format allows you to really appreciate the details and craftsmanship that distinguish their work, along with floor plans and detailed drawings which are included. Although the website is very extensive, nothing can trump owning a beautiful publication such as this that is available for frequent perusal.

There are a wide variety of  projects featured including apartments, such as this Park Avenue one with interior design by David Kleinberg (photographed by William Waldron).

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The firm was hired by a client who had worked with them on three previous houses to renovate this house in Los Angeles. The resulting structure, with handsome interiors by Michael Smith and beautiful landscape architecture by Mia Lehrer is a rather dramatic improvement.

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photographs by Lisa Romerein

Ferguson ShamamianOne of my favorite homes is right here in Connecticut, in Kent. The house prior to renovation was an undistinguished clapboard structure that didn’t relate to the vintage barn on the property.

photo Ferguson Shamamian

The owners wanted to restore it to the kind of charming country house they knew it could be. I just love the accompanying text for this feature. “The old red tobacco barn that stood like an adjective waiting for a noun was stained gray so that it no longer looked like an outbuilding divorced from the main house.”

Ferguson ShamamianAnd summing it up, “Frank Lloyd Wright said that architecture was like tailoring – it’s a matter of the terminal points, the cuffs and collars. … Although the low-impact renovation did not involve substantial construction, all the small changes, the cumulative power of the detail, proved to be an agent so powerful that what might have been simple architectural change amounted to a transformation of character.”

Ferguson ShamamianIsn’t that the perfect description for what anyone is hoping to attain in a successful renovation? And the very reason one choses an experienced firm with historical expertise and grounding like Ferguson Shamamian, so that the proportion, scale and details look authentic and appropriate.

Ferguson ShamamianThe beautiful landscaping is by Nancy McCabe and the charming interiors by Mario Buatta.

Ferguson Shamamianphotos by Durston Saylor

Those of you who love traditional architecture will find this a welcome addition to their collection both for explanatory design details  and illustrative inspiration. But be warned, this beautiful edition is quite large and will probably find a home on a coffee table rather than in the bookshelf!

26 thoughts on “A Terrific New Tome | Ferguson Shamamian

  1. enjoyed this introduction as i was not familiar with these gentlemen.

    their exteriors and the attention to detail are seemingly from another era, truly talented

  2. What a nice peek. The before and after of the Kent house was telling. Just some subtle changes like the arched window over the entryway and grander trim on the windows made all the difference. And that gray stained barn is amazing!


  3. What beautiful photos. I love the before and after. Even though I live in a small apartment, this is my complete fantasy. Thank you for sharing – next destination amazon.com!

  4. After your review and gorgeous phhotos from the book I am going to have to hunt this one out!

  5. I do really like the refurbished home in CT that you highlighted. It seems like the home I envision a “first family” of the White House would live in. In Michigan, we had a home built by one of the DOW sons who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. We loved it! Then, in NY, we had a 1800’s brownstone in historic downtown Albany. We’ve run the gamut of styles!

  6. beautiful homes…but I keep going back to the photo of the 2 of them…it appears they are trying not to laugh or smirking about something…the expression on their faces makes them seem so down to Earth and friendly….(not that you can tell that much from a photo…) but it just seems that they are very nice people…and yet they design these amazingly gorgeous homes….what talent….

  7. I looked at the before and after photos towards the end and at a glance, assumed that the entrance had been completely rebuilt. But no, it really is in the details! I’ll look for this book and clear some space for it – thanks for the posting.

  8. I love a big, chunky coffee table book – and this one looks amazing. I love seeing a home, like the one in Kent, brought back to life…and when period arcthitecture is enhanced but relates to its original time.

    Ordering it now!!

  9. The interiors are stunning, I love all the white. Although funnily enough I have no white in my own house.

    I would love a house in Connecticut! I can dream…

    Thanks for your lovely comments xx

  10. I must have this one! Lovely! I was so fortunate when I was at Parsons. My drafting teacher worked at F&S. Once we had class in their offices. It was absolutely amazing to see all of the work in progress.

  11. I agree! From what I see, it would end up on my coffee table, too. I am absolutely in love with the third space shown, and very curious about those unique chairs. Lovely, lovely… thank you for sharing :)

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