The goal for the house was that it should look and feel organic inside and out, like a part of nature that has always been there.
Fred Seibert and Robin Sloane Seibert stumbled upon their Stockbridge home quite by accident. Robin grew to love the mountains while a student at UVM, but Vermont was too far from their residence in Manhattan, and ocean-front homes on Long Island felt too elitist. The couple stopped in the Berkshires on a whim, after dropping their son at college in Maine. They traveled with a shortlist of wishes for a second home: a vista location while avoiding isolation; a house with an open living space; access to a good, local bookstore; and a place within close range of Tanglewood.
They liked the very first house realtor Tim Lovett showed them, which had a few of the sought-after elements but needed some major changes. Then they met architect Pam Sandler. “If we do this house correctly, we can grow old here,” Robin remembers seeing it. And that’s what they did. After an 18-month renovation, their wishes became reality. The home was transformed into a sanctuary to harbor their creative pursuits, where they could take time away from the city and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.
moving walls to create more openness, reminiscent of her clients’ loft in the city. Robin, an avid cook, wanted the kitchen open to the rest of the living area, and Sandler created a proper entrance—one that precluded guests having to navigate a dark mudroom-turned-laundry area. Perhaps the pièce de résistance is the spa-like master suite, an addition that hinges upon a seamless connection between inside and outside spaces. Sandler calls it, “feeling at one with nature,” which is entirely evident through expansive glass on two walls. In fact, the remodel effectively resembles a cabin in Big Sur, where Robin and Fred eloped 25 years ago—a feel Robin was striving for all along.
A key factor in designing spaces for her clients is not only listening to what they want, but also getting to know them and their personalities. “I find Robin and Fred so down to earth,” says Sandler, who opened her architectural business in the Berkshires 30 years ago. “They are not pretentious; they are humble people, and the house had to feel that way.”
Sandler configured the clean, soaring space—effectively combining elements of wood, glass and metal—to include large, open living areas with several intimate niches. The house contains thousands of books, and Fred has a particular affinity for the library niche. (They are also in close proximity to one of their favorite places, The Bookstore in Lenox.) When she is not tackling a culinary feat, Robin gravitates toward her grand piano, a rebuilt Steinway from Flynn Pianos, that takes center stage in the living room.
Robin was in the rock-and-roll business for two decades, including a ten-year stint at Geffen Records as creative director. While at Elektra Records, she directed the Cars’ video, “You Might Think” which went on to receive the very first MTV Video of the Year award in 1984. She retired 20 years ago to raise the couple’s two sons—and her timing was spot on. “It’s a changing business,” she recalls. “Rap was coming in, and I wasn’t relating to rap.” Robin promptly switched gears to pursue classical piano and creative writing—regularly attending BSO open rehearsals and recitals in Ozawa Hall, both at nearby Tanglewood.
red has been referred to as the “cartoon king.” He was president of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon studios in the 1990s. He is credited with discovering Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the TV series “Family Guy,” fresh from college, when he hired him to work on Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Seibert’s biggest audience is online through his Channel Frederator network. Cartoons run on YouTube, but his network promotes them, sells ads and distributes the proceeds to some 2,000 of his video makers. He still serves as executive producer of “The Fairly Odd Parents,” a TV series he began producing in 1998.
In The Berkshires
In the Berkshires, Fred likes to stay put. “I’m an introvert in an extroverted business. I need a place where I can recharge,” he says. He has a workshop where he continues to feed his lifelong affinity for building. Pieces of his original design punctuate the home, ranging from wood and metal bookshelves to a live-edge desk; the bench, just inside the kitchen entrance, was the first piece he built for the couple’s Berkshire getaway. He also regularly adds to what he calls “an obsessive poster collection,” many of which are on display throughout the house.
“We agreed we would do what it takes to make it the home we wanted,” says Robin of the enormous undertaking that included exterior landscaping. Save for ripping out the ragweed and goldenrod lining the driveway and planting a row of Hemlocks to screen their addition from the neighbors, the Seiberts let the property sit for two years without alteration. Slowly, Robin began landscaping. With the help of Rob Genarri of Glendale Botanicals, the two worked together carving out more lawn, putting in beds, and creating meandering paths.
Above all else, Robin and Fred exude thankfulness—for having met Sandler and for committing to create a home where they can grow old. “We honor each other’s creativity and respect it,” says Robin of her husband. “As did Pam,” Fred chimes in.
Come Christmas, the Seiberts’ two sons will join them in Stockbridge. Joe, 24, is earning a PhD in physics and Jack, 22, a programmer at a video game company, will both make the trip east from California. Holiday traditions include venturing to Seekonk Tree Farm in Great Barrington to select and cut a tree, walks in nature, and skiing for Robin and her sons at Ski Butternut. “It’s fantastic,” says Robin of this cherished time together.
Pamela Sandler Completes Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program; Brings Special Needs Housing to Berkshire County
Pamela Sandler joins local small business owners to create new business opportunity in Berkshire County
Stockbridge, MA (June 12, 2017) – Pamela Sandler, founder of Pamela Sandler Architect, located in Stockbridge, MA, completed the 11 week, 100 plus hour Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a national program created to help entrepreneurs develop jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital, and business support services. Ms. Sandler fine-tuned the firm’s business growth plan which, along with her residential and commercial full-service architecture, extends the firm’s reach by teaming with groups that develop appropriate housing for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and special needs adults in the northeast.
“Within seven years 500,000 ASD adults will require special needs housing. Currently, 80 percent of these adults live with their families,” noted Sandler. There are parental organizations, groups and governmental agencies that need expertise in the design and development of appropriate special needs housing. “My goal is to be able to answer the question so many parents with special needs children ask, ‘where will he or she live when I’m gone?’” continues Sandler.
Sandler, a mother of two ASD adults understands professionally as well as personally the residential requirements for special needs adults. “When designing full-time living spaces and communities there are considerations most firms would not naturally consider, such as creating visually calm living areas, sound proof rooms, spacious hallways as well as common areas that promote physical activity. The design should include appropriate ventilation and use all-green, non-toxic products. And of course, we need to create a sense of familiarity and security,” explains Sandler.
“The Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program gave me the tools to learn more about the business side of my firm as well as support my passion to develop housing for ASD adults so that they can lead comfortable and productive adult lives.” Sandler continued, “I’m confident that the three months of work and networking will pay off for my firm’s residential and commercial projects as well benefit the special needs adults in the northeast.”
“We’re proud of our graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. These entrepreneurs put forth incredible effort to complete this program and we are confident their efforts will continue in growing their businesses. We are excited to watch their many successes,” said Kerry Healey, President of Babson College.
Visit Pamela Sandler Architect for more information regarding Pamela Sandler’s offerings.
For additional information:
Website – www.sandleraia.com
Pamela Sandler was recently accepted to the 10,000 Small Businesses program offered by Goldman Sachs:
By John Townes
Sandler is owner and principal Pamela Sandler AIA, LEED AP, an architectural firm she established in 1989. With offices at 31 Main St. in Stockbridge, the firm provides residential and commercial design for new construction, restorations and renovations.
She said she first heard about 10,000 Small Businesses several years ago through a business associate in another area who had participated in the program. She was recently reacquainted with it by Kowalczyk through their mutual involvement in Women Upfront, and decided to apply.
“It’s a great gift of an opportunity,” said Sandler (who was reached while away on vacation just days before the program started.) She pointed that, although she has operated her own firm for over 25 years, she has never had the complete skill set needed to effectively plan for its growth.
“You don’t learn anything in architecture school about running a business,” she commented, adding that she looks forward to addressing that gap through the program’s intensive training and mentoring.
“The key thing I’m looking for from the program is being able to define the direction of my firm for the next 20 years,” Sandler said.
That, she added, is important not just for herself but also for the continued professional development of her staff of three full-time and one part-time employees.
“I have a great team, and I want this to have a positive impact on them, too,” she said.
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