The site for this waterfront residence is located on the Great Neck Peninsula, an eastern suburb of New York City facing west to views of NYC and the Borough Bridges. When purchased, there existed a 50-year-old house and pool structurally condemned which required immediate removal. Once the site was cleared, more than a year was devoted to constructing a seawall and stabilizing the waterside hill using a precast concrete stack block retaining wall system.
The lot size, shape, and relationship to an easement access road, overlaid with strict zoning regulations was a key factor in the organization of the client’s program and compositional elements. The eastern facade is an arc which mirrors the outline of the access easement road. As depth of space was restricted by the hill edge at the rear and strict road set back at the front, the facade was built on the required 25 ft set back from the easement road. This arc shape facade is designed as a privacy screen, which addresses the opposite homes in proximity. Due to strict height requirements, (from the easement road elevation) the home appears to be one story from the street; but, then steps down and builds into the hill, to gain volume, allowing for three fully occupiable floors.
The clients program required a 2-car garage. We determined that its size would compromise the already restricted usable space. We proposed a solution which put the garage fundamentally underground and by local code definition a vault, which can be constructed within a required setback. The local jurisdiction accepted our interpretation and granted permission for our scheme with its fully landscaped roof. A path along this roof accesses a hidden door (behind the privacy screen) to the main bedroom level of the house. This landscape roof and pavers also allows for additional off-street parking used when the family is hosting events.
The positioning of the garage forms a courtyard which is arrived at through a semicircular driveway. Upon entering the courtyard, you descend below the elevation of the privacy screen and arrive at the main entry door. Mostly used for guests, this entry door (carved wood by a local artist) unveils the dramatic views of the NYC shore and skyline. Similarly, there is also a door to a breezeway mudroom which connects the main house to the garage, offering entry for the family, especially during inclement weather. During the summer months the breezeway doors open and allow access to a side path and exterior stairs that terrace down the hill allowing for quick access to the backyard and pool without traveling through the house.
The configuration of the home is a U-shape surrounding a rear courtyard. This shape, along with suspended bedroom sitting pods assures water views to all occupants while not compromising privacy from homes in proximity north and south of the residence. The rear courtyard also creates a private outdoor space out of the view from the neighbors.
The home's lowest level is used for recreation, exercise, guest suites, openings to decks, an outdoor kitchen, and a pool area, which is perched on the edge of the upper retaining wall.
The Main floor has the formal entry, living room, dining room and two kitchens. One kitchen has a breakfast area pod, opened for maximum views, of which is often used by the family for daily meals. The second kitchen services the dining room for formal meals.
The upper level contains the master bedroom suite, and the children's rooms, two of which are accessed by a bridge that spans across the two-story entry area.
Almost all spaces have access to viewing decks or balconies. All the roofs are reachable by exterior stairs and are green with patios and gardens.
The house is constructed on a steel frame supported by helical piles, clad with fiber cement viroc panels, prodema resin panels and an aluminum curtain wall system.
Great Neck, NY
Robert and Ravit Kraus
Stewart Senter Inc. Builders
Holzmacher Engineering, NorthCoast Civil
Phillip Ennis Photography
We are architects and designers, offering our services to residential clients for new homes, renovations, apartments, town houses, and multifamily complexes. We also service commercial and medical clients for corporate and executive offices as well as retail and hospitality establishments.
Our studio is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of our clients while pursuing innovative and environmentally conscious designs. We feel that the design process is equally as important as the completed project, as every project is tailored to our clients' needs.