For a Manhattan-domiciled architect who hails from New Zealand, where the standalone house prevails, a commission for a new house or major alteration is always an exciting opportunity. But having honed his craft on townhouse, apartment and loft conversions and renovations, David Howell identifies definite parallels between these types of architectural interventions and the freedom that a new house allows. No matter how large the house, the design response is driven by a rigour and efficiency that is essential when restricted to dealing with interior spaces.

The DHD-designed houses featured in this book span opposite sides of the world — Massachusetts to New Zealand — and a range of environments, from desert-like conditions in Mexico to a high-altitude climate in Utah. “Every house is primarily a response to its context and the landscape,” says David. So, in San Miguel de Allende a Mexican vernacular informs the contemporary response to a luxury retreat, and at 8,500 feet in Utah 18-inch-thick board-formed concrete walls create a luxury alpine sanctuary. In between, there are considered responses to renovations of an oceanside Hamptons getaway and a traditional wood shingle Long Island home.

Unifying the approach to these diverse projects is a concern for material selection, spatial proportion, and light and views. Furnishings, light fittings, and often art and artisan objects, contribute to each house’s distinct character and express the owners’ personal style, so the end result is a highly individualized home.

Chapter 1. Casa Adela
Chapter 2. 55 Upper Queen Street
Chapter 3. Dower House
Chapter 4. Hamptons House
Chapter 5. Water Mill Residence
Chapter 6. Alta Ski House


Steven Wakenshaw is a partner at DHD and a Registered Architect in New York State. He has been with DHD since 2007, where he has led teams to create design-forward architecture and spaces on a multitude of project types.

At DHD he has specialized in ground-up residential development projects, high end residential interiors, hospitality conversions in manufacturing districts, creative commercial spaces and new single-family homes. Steven oversees a broad range of projects in the studio providing technical assistance to the project managers and other Architects.

Prior to joining DHD, Steven worked with a residential specialist firm based in New York where he contributed to work on all phases; design, documentation, project management, for numerous interior build-out projects in Manhattan and both renovation and ground up construction in Houston, Connecticut and East Hampton.