This unusual bathroom was designed to suggest a lighthouse, with the room narrowing from bottom to top, and the row of Pella operable windows at the top resembling the ring of windows atop a lighthouse. The post and beam ceiling structure was built on the ground and hoisted into place by a crane. The bath surround is white Italian marble. The large window faces Mt. Mansfield and Smugglers Notch.
“As I became a little more established, I started working with John,” Cole says. “We became friends. I was so impressed by his sculpture and his jewelry. He had also started using CAD (computer aided design) in 1988 or 1989, before most of the others. He has a very inquiring mind. Our relationship grew, from working together on some of those FHA houses to bigger things.
One of those “bigger and better” things was the home shown on pages 8 & 9 of this article. Known as The Sculpture House, it was profiled in an article by Kim Dixon in the June 2013 issue of Vermont B/A.
Says Cole: “Building a house in a totally different way was a real leap of faith—using sculpture as a structural component. It was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. But it took a lot of guts. There were no examples to look at. That was the most exciting project I’ve done, I think.”
In a phone interview from Virginia, where he recently relocated to be nearer his grandchildren, Rubino recalls the roots of his relationship with Cole.
“We got together when I was project manager on the renovation of a small school in Stowe. Dan was working for Bread Loaf, just before he went out on his own. After he started his company, we did several small projects together. We were also pretty tight in other ways, behind the scenes. I’d help him with estimating, scheduling and that sort of thing when he was getting going on his own.”
Even when their time on a common project did not frequently intersect, the men would still meet up after hours and put their heads together.
“We would discuss different aspects of a project, help determine the best way to get it done. I remember one project that had a really weird roof. He came over and said, ‘I can’t figure this out.’ I called the architect and he said he couldn’t figure it out either. He said, ‘I figured you could figure it out in the field.’ Turns out there was no solution. The plans just didn’t work and had to be changed.”
Rubino says the thing that sets Cole apart from other builders is his “people skills.”
The Personal Touch
“He knows what he’s doing,” says Rubino of Cole, “but a lot of guys out there know what they’re doing. The difference is that it’s always comfortable working with Dan. He’s fair. He’s fighting for the project. I’m the same way, so we work well together.
“I think, ‘What’s the best way to get the project done?’ He’s the same way. And he’s that way all the time.
“To me, when it comes to builders, the best ‘hire’ is based on personality. Hire the personality. A lot of builders have the talent, the skills. But if (the client, the designer and the builder) don’t fit well together, it won’t go well.
“Even though I live down here now, we still talk to each other. Questions come up. Danny is always willing to seek out the correct professional to solve the problem, answer an issue, rather than just going ahead. I think the customers appreciate that. I definitely appreciate that. I’m not aware of a customer that was not extremely happy working with Dan.”
Cole agrees that interpersonal relationships are a key to successful contracting.