Meet 2015 New England Design Hall of Fame Inductees Jacob Albert and John TittmannText by Erin Marvin
When people speak about the work of architects Jacob Albert and John Tittmann, they use words like magical, original, and creative just as often as comfortable, relevant, and classic. It’s this careful balance between innovation and tradition that delights Albert and Tittmann’s clients and has made a lasting impression on the New England landscape.
Albert and Tittmann began their careers during the emergence of postmodernism and, together with partner James Righter (an inaugural inductee to the New England Design Hall of Fame), were pioneers of traditional design here in New England. The three joined forces in 1996 to open Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects in downtown Boston.
“One of the things we strongly believe in is mixing high style and low style, or classical and vernacular,” says Tittmann. “We’re not trying to be too straitlaced in our interpretation of styles; they’re at once very familiar, but also very unfamiliar.”
Adds Albert, “Since most of our work is in New England, we often look to the styles that are here—but that is such a huge range, it hardly leaves anything out.”
Their designs may be rooted in classic styles, but their traditional homes often come with an unexpected twist: an interior passageway ribbed like the hull of a boat; rafter tails cut like fish heads; tree-trunk columns; pointed dormers; prismatic roof forms.
“It’s those details that really give a building or a house its personality and its distinctiveness,” says Albert.
That distinctiveness has been captured in the pages of myriad shelter magazines and publications, and in New Classic American Houses: The Architecture of Albert, Righter & Tittmann (Vendome Press, 2009). The firm’s archives were recently accepted by Historic New England, a true testament to the timelessness of the men’s work.
“We see our work as engaging in a cultural conversation about who we are as people, and how our cities should be shaped,” says Tittmann.
We can’t wait to see where that conversation leads next. •
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