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Chapel Hill News

The Chapel Hill News, October, 2002, highlighted Robert Phillips' work in designing and constructing his home, the Forest Garden office and a pagoda-style workshop all on his home site in Chatham County, North Carolina.






The construction and detailing of this home was described in the Chapel Hill News.

"While building their house in North Carolina, Phillips moved from decorative to structural metal. He framed the house in light-gauge steel sheathed and wood and crafted metal roof trusses and support columns. On the exterior, he installed a metal roof and crafted finial masks on the corners, attached finial birds to the roof ridges and designed a cut-metal gable ornament that he put over the front door."

"What light makes it through the towering hardwoods and loblolly pines catches on the galvanized sheet-metal roof and bounces off the cast-aluminum stars rimming the eaves. Sun glints off the fish-scaled metal shakes decorating the cupola and shines through the cut-metal gable ornamentation. Finial birds tooled from the roof ridging seem poised to take off from the ridge plates. Punched-metal sconces covered the porch light, and W.F.Normal cluster panels of galvanized steel fish-scaling cover the foundation between concrete piers."

Describing the Forest Garden office Robert designed and built for his wife psychologist Betty Phillips, Ph.D., the article described, "The elaborate gable ornament over the door contributes to the contemplative atmosphere of the therapy house. The rising sun, shining through the cut-out metal, tracks shadows across the room. Although the symbols Robert Phillips cut into the metal have no particular significance, they come together to give the therapy house a magical feel."

The article describes the picture to the left, "Unobtrusive vertical and horizontal wood posts make the roof of Phillips' work shed seem to float above the floor."

"Using the well house as a core, Phillips designed a 55-foot by 55-foot pagoda-style workspace that feels like a wedding tent. By cantilevering the corners, Phillips made the work shed seem to float above the floor with no obvious supports. Yet unobtrusive vertical and horizontal wood posts, fabrications inspired by Japanese gateways called torii, function as load-bearing walls."

"That shed is a fantastic architectural achievement, said Don Bartholf whose new-colonial style house bears a gable ornament made by Phillips. Buildings look the way they do because that's the best way to make them stand up. When you see something different, it takes a lot of engineering and knowledge of construction practices. Bartholf said that Phillips experiments with light and shadows...I can't go over to his house without coming back and shaking my head at all he's done, Bartholf said. I've never seen people here do what he does with metal."