Official SUNY ESF DLA Off-Campus Blog

Morgan Way affordable island housing project by esfdla
December 13, 2010, 11:41 am
Filed under: Martha's Vineyard 2010

The images above represent the current conditions, and landscape potential of Morgan Woods, generated in the Adobe Creative Suite. While Morgan Woods is the largest, most ambitious affordable housing project on the island to date, there are many flaws to the design approach. The current conditions feel cold due to vast open lawns, poor material choice, and foundation plantings.  All of the homes on the site are prefabricated units imported to the island.  There are three clusters of buildings arranged according to the concept of a farmstead approach represented by what is intended to be a farmhouse, barn, and outbuildings.  This arrangement creates three large common areas of open land.  The design proposal approved by the Marthas Vineyard Commission left the common land areas with existing vegetation, however they were clear cut during the construction process.  In an effort to remediate the clear cutting, a gazebo, plastic play ground, and circular planting beds have been “dropped” in the centers of the clear cut areas and have drained the budget for grounds improvements.  Pictured below is an example of the barn houses on site, arguably the largest flaw of the project.

Never actually used as a functioning barn, the structure is detailed to appear as it once was.  The architecture of the barn is Dutch Colonial, which has no relevance to the architecture of barns of Martha’s Vineyard, and is indicative of a Vermont farm.  Additionally, Greek columns are placed at the entry to the homes making the structure look more out of place.  With smarter material detailing choices, and an architectural style that speaks to Martha’s Vineyard, the barn homes of Morgan Way could have been much more successful.

Always remember the importance of placed based design and planning.

Best Wishes,




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