It doesn’t take but a glance at Jason and Kirsten Barton’s Portsmouth residence to realize it’s still very much a home in transition. Such is what’s expected with a scheduled finish still a few weeks off. But beneath the still-unfurling gray façade, below the brushes and hammers of the final crew, the transformation yields an impressive testament to one local architectural firm’s versatility. Launched in 2011 by Paul Fowler and Bob Cook, adaptDESIGN’s mini mission statement seems straightforward enough: Design for sustainable living. To be sure, Fowler and Cook have gone to great lengths to assure that motto’s attendant points – green materials, creatively efficient lighting, existing site orientation, and just about everything in between – have as much a home as the people for whom it’s designed.


Longtime residents Geoffrey and Martha Fuller Clark have called Portsmouth home since the 1970s, when they purchased the Langley Boardman House, an 1805 Federal-style home just steps from the city center. During the thirty-plus years they’ve lived in their home, it has been painstakingly restored and retrofitted to accommodate their family (they have three adult children) and numerous guests. So when the carriage house that abuts their property came up for sale sixteen years ago, the Clarks were eager to purchase it. 

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What does an architect do, exactly? Even the topically disinclined can probably paint a cursory mental picture – lots of designing, lots of graphs and charts and, of course, a heavy premium on detail.That’s essentially the expectation Eliza Bird had when she and her husband, David Huot, commissioned adaptDESIGN’s Bob Cook and Paul Fowler to create their York dream home.Once the process began, however, the Birds noticed that the adaptDESIGN duo – who launched their Portsmouth-based firm in 2011 – didn’t exactly impart the kind of exacting demeanor one might expect.“I’ll never forget first day they came out to the site, there was an electricity that was tangible – everyone running around with all these wonderful ideas,” recalls Bird, who says the team is targeting an April 2013 completion date for the project. “We realized very quickly how creative they are and how fun they are to work with. Ever since that day we’ve had a blast collaborating.”

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