J A M E S   S C H I L D R O T H     A S S O C I A T E S,   A R C H I T E C T S

Maine + Florida + West Virginia

Now working with clients in Portland, Brunswick and St. George, Maine.


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Architecture inspired by my clients and the challenging sites on the coast of Maine since 1970.

This site is offered in support of the cause of Organic Architecture.   Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff and many other architects have influenced the Principles expressed in the architecture I have designed and built.


Ethereal Design

By Colin Sargent  Pages 28-29 & 76-77.

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Is it a bird?  Is it a plane? No, it's a "James Schildroth," Maine's first name in soaring sculptural architecture.


Starbird Crest, with wings that make it look like an origami riddle on the Maine Coast, is a signature design by architect James Schildroth.

"Brackets hold the whole design up,"  he says.  "What do you think of that?"

Schildroth is Maine's closet connection to the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, having earned the distinction of being named a Taliesin Fellow at the world center for Wright studies.  Not that he's in complete lockstep with America's most famous architect.

"I departed from that when I was in my twenties," he says.  "The whole idea of find-your-own-voice, you know.  If you keep copying the old master, what are you?  But some of my colleagues still think I'm too close to the ether," he laughs.

One point of departure from Wright is to spin his client's dreams, beyond an organic sense of site and situation, into a kind of holy writ that's illuminated by his new creations.  Put another way, he makes his designs deeply personal, transforming his client's sense of adventure of intimacy onto raw materials as palpable as glass and granite.   "Starbird Crest is an example of the client expression figuring into the end result," he explains.

Owner Rick Starbird says, "We told him we wanted to maximize the view, with a lot of decking and living area above the trees."

What Schildroth has created has exceeded the Starbirds' wildest expectations.

"James plotted summer and winter solstice so we could orient it to get a lot of winter sun in all the glass.  It can be 10 degrees outside and we sometimes have to open two doors on the second level." 

"It's very windy up there," on the mountainside, with the effect "even increased because of the proximity to Cadillac and Champlain mountains, so you get a wind-tunnel effect," Schildroth says.

Far from being the House of Seven Gables in a hall of mirrors, "Starbird Crest is designed that way to deflect some of the wind and turn its back on the north."

"I'm still counting them." laughs Maryanne Starbird of the whimsical projections that lend verve and character to the 10,000-square-foot structure.  Starbird Crest is so large that "my mother told us she'd put a bell around her neck and shake her head if she got lost!"

A Wright masterpiece always finds the sun, while Schildroth, funny, prickly, and adroit with his magic, finds the sun and his owners in blueprints as well.

"See, the client picks a single place on earth-with conditions."  The ecstasy of trumping those conditions is what gets Schildroth revved up.  "I don't think what I do is the equivalent of being a method actor,"  he says, "but I guess what the best architects do is adopt the persona of the client" in creating a dream structure.

"I have all kind s of clients, some with all kinds of money and others just barely getting it done,"  but the one thing in common his clients have is, they must not bore him.

"I don't design for everybody who shows up.  If they show up with pictures of a French Provincial home, I'm not prepared to help them, because they're not looking for an architect at all.  Instead, "I send them down the road to the lumberyard," 

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See more photos of this house click here.

Portland Monthly Magazine April 2007

Wright Stuff

William and Mary Palmer House FLLW 1950.jpg (6885 bytes)   William and Mary Palmer House, 1950 by Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect. 

Page 66-67

'House Beautiful' interior design by this country's most celebrated 20th-century architect. on display at Portland Museum of Art, June 28-October 8, 2007.

Frank Lloyd Wright's interior designs and accessories are the subject of the Portland Museum of Art's new summer show, "Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful,"  slated for June 28 through October 8.

"Wright believed families would be improved by living in a house that supported a high quality of life." says curator Dr. Virginia T. Boyd of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  "Examples of his furniture, metalwork, stained glass windows. light fixtures, drawings and architectural plans textiles, publications, accessories, and photographs of home interiors combine to tell the story of Wright's main contributions to modern life in America."

Though Wright (1867-1959) never personally designed a home in Maine, our windswept coast plays host to many contemporary estates that show his influences, particularly in the work of James Schildroth {see "Ethereal Design," February / March 2007}. And the fastidious, stubborn crafts-manship and genius of many of his furniture and decorator items bring Maine topography to mind as well.

As for his pervasive influence, even the cliche 'House Beautiful' derives form Wright, who designed a book of the same name early in his career.   Ultimately, the concept became the MacGuffin he chased for the rest of his life.   "Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful" is organized by International Art & Artists of Washington, D.C., in cooperation with The Frank Lloyd Wright  Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Visit  http://www.portlandmuseum.org/Content/1381.shtml


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