The exterior of Larsen's Fish Market in front of the water
Larsen’s Fish Market; Location: Menemsha Massachusetts; Architect: Schiller Projects

Schiller Projects Updates an Established Fish Market in Martha’s Vineyard

Renovating a local institution is no easy task—let alone rebuilding it from the ground up. But Larsen’s Fish Market, a community hub in Martha’s Vineyard since the 1960s, needed more than a refresh. “The building was never meant for this kind of longevity,” says Aaron Schiller, lead designer on the project and founder of his namesake firm. “It was a fishing shack with great warmth and meaning because of its simplicity.”

For Schiller, who grew up going to the market, preserving the charm of the original structure remained paramount to the redesign. Taking a cue from the area’s architectural history, Schiller and his team envisioned an airy, wood-lined space with waterfront views, which the previous space lacked. To remedy this, they demolished and rebuilt the market in just six months, racing to finish before summer. The exterior with its clapboard shingles and factory-style windows seamlessly blends with its surroundings. “From the outside, the building feels reminiscent of the era when it was built—inside, it’s such a surprise,” adds Schiller.

The light-filled interiors feature playful touches, including lobster cages that dangle from above—and much more space. After studying the market’s business, which includes to-go foods in addition to the fish counter, the design team knew they had to cater to its continuous flood of customers. Since the market itself is not zoned for indoor dining, the team transformed a neighboring alley into a picnic area with tables and benches, enabling visitors to take in the harbor views. “People stay longer there now,” says Schiller. Who wouldn’t?

the prepared foods counter of Larsen's Fish Market
A 15-foot-long set of sliding glass windows grace the street side and open to directly into the new raw bar, now accessible from the curb. Handmade lobster cages add visual interest above.
The market features a polished concrete floor and harbor views.
Upon entering the formerly 7’6” space vaults to a double-height, wood-framed interior, a nod to old the fishing shacks still dotting the village but capped with large windows.
The business of the market today is a hybrid of restaurant and grocer.
The business of the market today is a hybrid of restaurant and grocer.
A streetside door floods the entryway with light.
The market features a polished concrete floor.
The picnic area of the market outside.
The design team added an outdoor picnic area for customers to unwind and enjoy the day’s catch.
The exterior of Larsen's Fish Market in front of the water
The green on the exterior is the same shade that the owner’s father painted the previous structure in the mid-1970s.

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