Piano Nobile

piano nobile_


Construction of our mixed-use project in Guilford on the Historic Green continues towards completion.  I walked the job site recently with the building owner and a member of the Historic District Commission’s subcomittee and snapped this photo at an area of the project for which I feel a particular fondness.  It’s a pedestrian way between two buildings – our project and the neighboring building.  There’s only a small space between the two building faces and the spatial experience of walking that “alley” is quite nice, I think, especially looking up at the tower element that is the subject of this photograph, and seeing for a few moments only a sliver of sky.

I will post more progress photos of this project in time.  It will be interesting for the townspeople who have watched this project come together, when the building is finally finished.  The priming of various materials comes off quite nicely as a color scheme, as is.  But the intended, final color scheme is in fact quite different.


Palazzo_Barberini_Piranesi_1748Giovanni Battista Piranesi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The title of this post refers to piano nobile, which is the top floor of a palazzo:  the floor (piano) of the nobility (nobile).  Despite our use of its organizing element, the palazzo building type did not serve as an explicit model for this element of the project.  In fact, residents of Guilford might rather be reminded of the tower at the I.S. Spencer & Sons Foundry Building on Fair Street, for its hipped roof and rafter tails, the stoutness of the tower shaft proportions and its division into segments (albeit fewer segments in our tower).  The Foundry tower on Fair Street, which seems to me to have a modest Italianate style about it (pictured below), employs the organizing principle of the palazzo very nicely.


I.S. Spencer & Sons Foundry Building


The composition and subject matter of my project site walk photo also led me to remember this photo I snapped in Florence five years ago (see below).  At the moment of the photo, I thought the quality of light on the orange walls, reflected up into the underside of the roof and rafter tails, and set against the blue of the cloudless sky was just breathtaking.  I’m so happy my recent site visit activities provoked me to dig up this photo.  And I’m happy to share its light and color here, as well as my commentary on it!  I hope you enjoy the image as much as I do!


Florence piano nobile


  1. N. Nicholas says:

    Just reviewed your web site again. Your Cape Cod Gambrel is everything a gambrel should be. It truly brings me back in time to my years of summering on the Cape and reminds me of my dream to build a house again. After 3 custom built home projects, I still have not built the Gambrel of my dreams. In search of land upon which to build our next and last home, I am relieved to find you. You can anticipate our call.

    • Joe Bergin says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment! I look forward to working with you to create a beautiful building with the gambrel roof that has eluded you thus far!

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