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Architects Jeff Halpern (Halpern Architects) and Peter Newlin (Chesapeake Architects) helped The Chesapeake Spy look closely at Edward Larrabee Barnes' attempt to build a rural village on 86 acres overlooking the Wye River. They highlight Barnes' masterful manipulation of space that represented a transformational moment in American design history, similar to those found in Charles Moore's Sea Ranch in California or Barnes' own breakout design at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine.


The Halpern Architects designed Cadillac-LaSalle Museum and Research Center opened on September 28, 2014.  After a ribbon cutting ceremony, hundreds of people flooded the floor of the new pavilion at the Gilmore Car Museum as the public got its first chance to view the collection in its new home.  

The Museum is based on an artist’s rendering from a 1948 manual that was published by General Motors. This manual was intended to provide recommendations and set standards for new post WW II GM car dealerships. While several dealerships were loosely patterned after the rendering, the design was never actually constructed before now. Replicating this mid-20th century conjectural design required a unique mix of historic preservation skills and the application of 21st century technology.  More...

July 1, 1988 was not much of an international news day. On that day, the headlines in the New York Times included 'Iran Said to Have Fortified the Strait of Hormuz', 'Mexico Banned From International Soccer Competition Including 1988 Seoul Olympics', and 'Mildred Gillars, the Notorious 'Axis Sally', Died in Ohio at 87'. World wide there was not much happening.

But that was a very important day around here, because on that day a quarter of a century ago, Halpern Architects opened its doors for business, and for the 25 years since has been providing high quality architectural services on a wide range of project types. As we celebrate this milestone, we would like to thank all who have helped to make this possible; our clients, fans, supporters, consultants, and staff members, who have each played an essential role in making us a success.
As we have been celebrating Halpern Architects' first quarter century, we took a few moments to look through slides and photos of some of the projects that the firm has designed over the years. Over the next 25 weeks, we will be posting some of the more emblematic projects that reflect each of our 25 years. We invite you to join us on our stroll down memory lane. We do so with appreciation to all of our clients who have placed their trust in us and made these projects possible. As the old expression goes, behind every great project is a great client.
The most memorable project from 1988 was a small custom spec. home that was designed for sailing commentator and author, Gary Jobson. In 1988 the firm was a partnership, Miller+Halpern-Architects. This was a project that Peter Miller had under contract at the time that we opened our doors. The project was a less than 1,200 s.f. house on a triangular site with a tiny footprint of which we strategically used every available legal inch.















Halpern Architects Celebrates 25 Years

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By the summer of its second year, Halpern Architects (at that point still the Miller+Halpern-Architects partnership) had grown to a staff of 6 professionals. The work load consisted of a broad range of projects; some commercial, some historic preservation, some institutional, with the majority of our projects being new homes and residential additions.

Probably the most emblematic project from 1989 was the Country Sunshine. This mixed use project consisted of a major addition to an old bungalow, which had been abandoned after being hit by an automobile. The project expanded the ground floor of the bungalow and adapted this floor for retail. A second floor was added that contained two rental apartments.

The challenge was to create a unified look for the building that was neither too mercantile nor too residential, and which also fit in with the surrounding historic West Annapolis neighborhood.  Due to zoning restrictions, portions of the original bungalow and its enclosed side porch needed to be retained, and in places partially replicated. Pasquarelli Construction was the contractor. The project team consisted of Jeff Halpern, Fred Sieracki, Michael Gilmore, and Jose Perez, all of whom now have their own architectural firms.

1989 was also the year that Halpern Architects moved into its current office space at 914 Forest Drive in Annapolis.

On a more personal note, the other memorable aspect of this project was meeting the owners, Ed and Doris Kaplan, who are now my friends and current next door neighbors.


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By 1990, Halpern Architects had established our reputation for designing high quality custom homes. This resulted in the firm providing services a number of custom waterfront houses. The first of these larger custom home projects was designed for Dr. David Matteson and Mrs. Denise Matteson. The home was situated on the north shore of Weems Creek. The owners had expressed an interest in a variety of Chesapeake regional architectural styles, and a goal of rooms with lots of light and privacy. The majority of the main living spaces and bedrooms had cathedral ceilings. Windows were placed strategically to take advantage of the views while providing privacy from adjacent dwellings. The design was a pastiche that celebrated regional massing, forms, and details, which were then were blended into a unified whole.



Although located on a comparatively large waterfront lot, zoning code and critical areas laws only permitted a building envelope that was quite compact.  To better utilize the available footprint, and take advantage of the natural terrain, the garage was located on a floor below the main living level of the house.

The project team included Jeff Halpern, Fred Sieracki, Michael Gilmore, Cheryl Kranik and late in the project, Jose Perez. Winchester Construction was the contractor.

1990 was also the year that the partnership with Peter Miller ended, and the name of the firm became Halpern Architects.

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1991 was a period of growth for Halpern Architects. It was a year which saw us working on a new clubhouse for Eastport Yacht Club, a number of waterfront and historic homes, a number of residential additions, and one of our best known projects, Ram�s Head Tavern.

Located only a block from Church Circle in Annapolis, the heart of the project was a historic 18th century home with a very rich history. The historic residence was originally owned by St. Anne�s parish. St. Anne�s later leased to a William Reynolds, who in 1769 subleased it to Constitution signer Samuel Chase.

In 1991, the house was in use as  offices and an apartment above a basement tavern. The project consisted of an adaptive reuse of the historic residence, combining it with two other adjacent buildings, and the enclosure of an open courtyard, which subsequently became a vital circulation link for the commercial complex.

A change from primarily residential and light office use to commercial and assembly spaces presented a unique set of challenges to Halpern Architects. Halpern Architects maximized the impact of the available floor area through the creative interior space planning and the imaginative use of colors and detailing. The project challenges included bringing this collection of 18th through mid-20th century buildings up to modern codes. Halpern Architects also guided the owner, within a tight time frame, through the Historic Preservation Commission approval process so that the tavern could open on time. The project team included Jeff Halpern, Fred Sieracki, and Jose Perez. We also had the privilege of working with Ferd Johns on the preliminary design concept.

Other memorable projects from 1991 included the remodeling of the Belli Residence, the Bontempo Residence, and the Ghazarian Residence.
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Eastport Yacht Club is probably our most emblematic project from 1992. In late 1990, Halpern Architects entered and won the design competition to design a new facility for the club. Working with the City of Annapolis, Halpern Architects successfully negotiated a series of Administrative Variances that allowed an expanded footprint on this critical area site. Coordinating the objectives of a successive collection of steering committees, Halpern Architects created a design that was intended to fit the context of the historic waterfront of Annapolis, meet the needs and goals of the membership, take fullest advantage of the views and the site features, address the critical area laws,  and to do this on a very tight budget.

The new building was approximately 4,300 square feet and featured a large meeting room, bar and open deck with a supporting kitchen at the second floor level. The ground floor included Restroom/shower facilities, storage areas, the club office and a space which could be leased to a yacht broker in order to improve cash flow in the early years of the club, and which later could become a junior member room.  Halpern Architects assisted in the redesign of the marina to increase the number and utility of the slips.


The project team included Jeff Halpern, Jose Perez, and Fred Sieracki. The contractor was Northwinds Construction, which later became Waverly Construction.

1992 was a busy year at Halpern Architects. We had a number of custom home and remodeling projects on the boards or under construction. Halpern Architects was also working with Congregation Kol Shalom Synagogue to alter and expand a 1970�s era earth-sheltered house in order to convert the building to create a new sanctuary and religious school.

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1993 was a year packed with a large number of similar sized residences designed for young families. So many of these families conceived children during the time that we were working with them, that it resulted in our in-house quip that we should probably change the name of the firm to Halpern Architects and Fertility Clinic.


Two homes in particular stand out from this year: the Olmert Residence and the Leshner Residence. The Olmert Residence is an example of integrating passive solar design principles into a traditional waterfront home. The interior the house is a blend of traditional elements that were proportioned for modern living.

Careful siting allowed the major spaces to capture the broad panoramic views while individual and more private rooms focused on specific significant elements of the view. The major living spaces, located on the south side of the house, are a single room deep, which allowed cross ventilation during the prevailing summer breezes, and some solar heating during the winter. All of the support functions for the house were placed on the north side and are tucked behind a row of trees in order to act as a buffer from north winds. Deciduous trees were retained on the south side to provide seasonal shading and provide the home with additional privacy in summer.


  The Leshner Residence was one of several homes that Halpern Architects designed within the Fishing Creek Farms community. The Leshners had very specific goals for their home in terms of how they wanted the house to look and feel, as well as visionary objectives in terms of controlling operating costs since they intended to own the home for a very long time. The basic design for this shingle style home derives from an early 20th century home designed by McKim, Mead and White for a retired Supreme Court Justice.    

One of my favorite stories about the Leshner Home was that their still very young oldest and middle daughter had shared a bedroom in their prior home. Concerned about how they would feel about having their own individual bedrooms, the rooms were planned so that the head of the beds in each room were located in line with the doors to the room, and the doors to the rooms faced each other across a small vestibule. This allowed the girls to see each other from their beds and led to a ritual of being able to say �good night� to each other once tucked in for the night.

Twenty years later, the Leshners still live in their home and we are working with them on a design for an update to their kitchen and family room.

The project team on both of these homes included Jeff Halpern, Fred Sieracki and Jose Perez. Bob Lundvall�s State Capital Builders constructed the Olmert Residence and Tom Shubert was the general contractor on the Leshner Residence with Carl Haus and Paul Krueger providing the carpentry.
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Like 1993, 1994 was another year in which Halpern Architects provided services on a number of similarly sized residences. The standout project of our 1994 year was the Cofran Residence. The Cofran Residence was designed for an American couple, who were attracted to turn of the century, mid-western homes, and who were living in England at the time, but were moving back to America. As a result, in those pre-internet days, by and large the house was designed via fax, FedEx and voice mail. 

 One of the challenges in designing this house was capturing the views of Kitty Duval Creek and the South River while protecting the privacy within the house and meeting the community association requirements to protect the viewsheds of the adjacent houses.

One of the more unusual items within this home is the staircase from the first to second floor. Like many houses of this era, this house featured a formal, two story entry and stair hall. However, the owners did not want their three young children to pass through the more formal areas of the house, and so from the landing that occurs roughly half way down the stair, there is a lower run of stairs which turn back directly into the less formal areas of the house. 

We designed a number of custom built-in furniture pieces which included a breakfront in the Butler�s pantry and an �English Style� vanity for the master bathroom. This piece was actually a transcontinental mix, with the basins and small medicine case being typical of the pieces that Mary had seen in England, but with an under cabinet to meet the needs of a modern American family.

The project team for the Cofran Residence included Jeff Halpern, Fred Sieracki, Bruce Miller, and Jose Perez. Taurus Enterprises were the general contractors on the project.


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1995 was a year packed with waterfront home projects and remodeling projects. Given the range of projects from that year, it was hard to pick just one. But probably the most interesting project of that year was the Borrelli Residence, in Arundel on the Bay. The house was located on a very narrow site on the water. It was a low lying site and prone to occasional flooding. The site had been subdivided from an adjacent lot and originally had a small shed on it.


Glen and Louise Borrelli had spent their summer vacation in New England and came back with photographs of historic homes that they liked. As we reviewed the photos, they commented that they could not determine the style of architecture of these houses but they all appeared to come from a similar period in time. As it turned out, the houses that caught their imagination were from two periods in time. They began as Greek Revival style houses that had been remodeled during the Queen Anne period of the Victorian Era. And so it is that the Borrelli Residence was designed to appear to be a Greek Revival home which had been remodeled in the Queen Anne style.

The owners were trying to construct the house on a very tight budget. Working with Bob Lundvall from State Capital Builders, we made a range of �value engineering� decisions, and identified aspects of the house which could be completed in the future.

These included an attic space which was designed to provide space for another bedroom, a crafts room, a play room, and some storage. Similarly, the Living Room was designed with comparatively extensive trim and built-in cabinetry on either side of the fireplace. To keep the house within budget, both of these items were roughed in with blocking and electrical where it would be needed, with the plan that they would be finished in the future.

Several years after the house was constructed State Capital Builders was hired to complete these unfinished items. Roughly eight years later, the owners bought a piece of an adjacent property and Halpern Architects designed a garage and workshop in a compatible style.
The project team on the Borrelli Residence included Jeff Halpern, Fred Sieracki, and Nick Capella. State Capital Builders were the general contractors on the project.
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One of the interesting aspects of being a small architectural practice with a wide range of �specialties� is that you can often have years where you work on a broad spectrum of building types. Because of that, the years that have no-two-alike project types are the expected norm.

But one of the curious exception to that norm is the phenomenon of �The year of�.�, in which a large number of projects of one particular and unusual type all happen in short period of time, and then the office may never work on that project type again. Sometimes �The year of�� is merely a some odd set of coincidences, such as �The year of the Williams� in which we had three residential projects and one commercial project for clients named Williams.

1996 was one of those �The year of��years. 1996 was the year of the Log Home; a year when we began work on three different log-home projects. Two were 18th century original log-cabin homesteads for founding families within our region, and the third, the �Luce Creek Gallery�, started as an Adirondack style cottage.  Of these projects, Luce Creek Gallery was the clear winner as our project of that year.


Located on a bluff high above Luce Creek, the restoration of this 1880�s log house included the modernization, expansion, and reorganization of the interior living spaces. To achieve the owners� objectives, Halpern Architects integrated an eclectic mix of old and new; expanding the structure to take advantage of spectacular waterfront views, and creatively re-purposing interior space that visually opened up the living areas, yet keep a historic character. Due to structural problems, the original structure had the east wing roof taken off and the entire right wing was disassembled to the foundation. A new two story addition provided the owners with a new master bedroom suite and a second floor with two-guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom.


The challenge of integrating the new and replicated portions of the house was met by creating a �new architectural vocabulary� for the new second floor and ground floor additions. The solution to making the new work appear original required the development of an infill material that worked with the strong character of the exterior log walls for the new second floor and creating a methodology to increase the visible surface area of the historic logs for the new portions of the first floor.

The project team on the Luce Creek Gallery included Jeff Halpern and Nick Capella. Winchester Construction was the general contractor on the project.

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The stand out project from 1997 (spanning several years before and many years after) was the Maynard Burgess House. This project set the record for the longest project in our company�s history. By the mid-1990�s, Halpern Architects had been providing preservation services on a range of privately owned historic projects. In 1995, we had interviewed for, and been selected to do a Historic Structures Report on the Maynard Burgess House. Our client was the City of Annapolis as the building owner, and the Historic Annapolis Foundation as the project administrators.

The Maynard Burgess House was originally constructed by John Maynard, one of the earliest freed African-Americans in Maryland. He constructed the home from salvaged materials and agricultural structures in the 1790�s. John Maynard died in 1875 and was survived by his wife Maria. When the house was probated after Maria�s death in 1887, the probate officers surveyed the house and signed their name and dated their signing directly on the siding of the house. Those signatures are still present on the siding to this day. The officers included one Maryland State governor and one mayor of Annapolis. After her death the house was sold to a former boarder, Willis Burgess. Continually owned by two interrelated African-American families, from about 1850-1980, the house and its residents experienced changes in African-American lives that ran from slavery, to the Civil Rights movement, to the present day.


Based on our Historic Structures Report, Halpern Architects was engaged to prepare construction documents and provide hands-on guidance for a museum quality restoration of this unique historic structure. At the start of the project, the home was supported by a temporary structure erected on the interior to prevent the house from collapsing. The roof and walls were leaking air and water badly. Many of the windows were removed or otherwise not fully intact. The ends of the studs and the sill plates were compromised by insect and rot damage. Portions of the foundation were crumbling or missing entirely.

 Over a series of four major stages and a series of minor phases spanning from 1995 through 2012, the temporary framework was enhanced to provide more adequate support for the building and allow it to be lifted slightly, which then allowed the foundations to be stabilized, and replaced where missing. New sill timbers were fabricated and installed, existing studs and columns that were compromised by rot or insects were sistered in place, and the existing diagonal bracing reconnected to the corner posts and sill timbers. This permitted the temporary structure to be removed.

 The house was then made weather tight by replacing the roof and chinking the walls. The historic doors and windows were restored, and missing windows and doors replicated. The historic stair was restored in place. Handicapped accessibility was provided, with strategic locations set aside for interpretive materials, mounted on permanent, minimally intrusive stands designed by Halpern Architects.

Our role went beyond being the project architect. We also assisted in preparing successful grant requests, doing annual condition assessments and making temporary stabilization repairs during the long periods between the more active construction phases.
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Over the years, Bob Lundvall�s company, State Capital Builders, has constructed quite a few of our projects.  In 1997 Bob had purchased an older home waterfront home in the Ferry Farms community for himself and his family. Bob had originally considered demolishing the old home and constructing a new one on the site. But as the impact of the critical areas regulations and zoning site constraints were plotted on the site, it became readily apparent that there was a strong merit in keeping much of the existing house, and expanding and remodeling it.

Halpern Architects was retained to work with the Lundvalls to develop the expanded design. Their goal was to double the useable area of the house, completely alter its exterior character and improve the sense of connection to the river and creek views and well as the flow to the pool area.

The work included addressing the necessary structural updates and development of interior detailing that seamlessly concealed the new structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical components.

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Cadillac- LaSalle Club Museum

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