Local architect wins international award

Fisher studio incorporates art, nature, ecology, geometry
July 16, 2016

Lauded for the design principles of the eco-conscious, spacious artist’s studio he designed in Rehoboth, Lewes-based architect Shawn Ewbank recently returned from Milan, Italy, where he accepted the A’Design award for Architecture, Building and Structure Design for his design of the Fisher Studio and Gallery.

Voted by an international panel of 83 jurors composed of design professionals, press members and academics, Ewbank’s design was selected to take top honors in his structural design category. This is one of nearly 40 design-centered awards categories, which include interior, exterior, landscape and jewelry design, among others, based on a prescribed methodology by the A’Design industry awards association.

Commissioned by oil painter Gary Fisher to design a studio and gallery to be built from scratch on Fisher’s carefully landscaped property where he built his home nearly 20 years ago, Ewbank said the building was designed to seem as though part of it cut away to reveal a waterfall and courtyard, while still creating an insular studio and gallery.

“This was just a back yard,” Ewbank said. “Now it’s a beautiful park scape.”

With further landscaping courtesy of Washington, D.C.-based outdoor designer Morgan Washburn, who befriended Fisher before the artist permanently relocated to Rehoboth last spring, Ewbank said he wanted to make the transition from outdoors to indoors unobtrusive, with large windows and plenty of light.

“The idea really was to create a building as a sculpture, as a piece of art itself,” Ewbank said.

All design choices were carefully planned, he said, from the geometric, 90-degree angles to the tongue-and-groove red American cedar wood. The 1,700-square-foot studio and gallery was built to be a living piece of art.

“This wood is a very hardy material, and it silvers to a nice patina,” Ewbank said. “It gives the house a lot of life and the building itself has a lot of hard angles so the wood really softens it. In this case, the materials help inform the shapes you use.”

Fisher, who closed his studio and gallery in Washington, D.C. in March to relocate to Rehoboth full time, said the added work space and gallery, which includes a storage room with compartments designed for different size canvases, has freed him to invest himself in his work. Much of his new art can be found on the walls of his new studio as he builds his collection for an upcoming show, titled Gary Fisher and  Judith Judy, which opens Friday, Sept. 16, and runs to Oct. 4 at Gallery 50 on Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth.

“I wasn’t expecting something that would be so forward thinking, or having an international award-wining space to work in,” Fisher said. “But the way the house, the studio and the grounds have come together, I almost want to cry when I look out the window.”

For more information about Shawn Ewbank designs, go to or call 415-378-0672.

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