This 2400 sq ft single family residence is located on a steep embankment within a cooperative community on the North Shore of Long Island, a suburb outside of New York City. The site offers dramatic waterfront views to the Long Island Sound and the state of Connecticut. 100 years ago, the site was occupied by shacks housing workers from a local sand and gravel quarry. This quarry supplied much of the raw materials for early 20th century building development in New York City. By mid-century, the quarries were abandoned, and the shacks were deeded to a group of 43 workers and their families, who eventually upgraded the units into summer bungalows taking advantage of the waterfront access and many of the area’s summertime activities. By centuries end many of the residents were occupying the units full time this was in response to the surrounding region developing and offering good schools and other community supporting institutions. However, the lack of proper infrastructure and unsafe building construction required the many modifications to the original structures. Recent developments require many of the structures to be demolished and land cleared for their replacements. There are many obstacles and challenges to designing and building a home within this community. Close proximity of the structures (some within 5 feet of each other), the steep sandy embankment, high winds require that the home be constructed to critical building standards. Additionally, because of the nature of this sensitive environment the building approval process is long and tedious averaging over one year from planning to permit. In considering the design and composition, the design team decided to create a virtual building envelope (a temporary full-scale framework was erected on site) to meet the strict height and view corridor limitations, which were adopted to avoid compromising the view of the adjacent and uphill hill neighbors. Building on and within the steep embankment also presented challenges due to the close proximity of these adjacencies, and the flowing sandy soils. No driving of piles nor deep foundations could be considered. In consideration of these limitations the foundation was engineered as a series of cantilevered mat slabs which were excavated for and then poured in sections along vertical intervals, started from the hilltop and staged downward. This method avoided any disturbance of the hill and the adjacent structures. Once the foundations were established a fairly conventional steel and laminated wood frame was erected. The structure is clad with a natural wood veneer/ resin panel by Pr, which are mounted on a ventilated support system. Because of the frequent high winds and horizontal driving rains, called Nor’easters, the glazing and wall system are designed to meet these extreme environmental conditions. The plan is an L configuration with living spaces pivoting around a central stair, which minimizes circulation and places emphasis on maximizing living space within a small footprint. This orientation also takes advantage of the dramatic views as well as create privacy for the occupants whether they are inside a room or outside on a terrace. Many of the internal spaces are surrounded by exterior open terraces and private balconies which are accessed through multiple entry/egress locations. The various roofs are covered with green roof systems which greatly improves energy performance, minimizes surrounding noise as well as creating a pleasant landscape as viewed from the uphill neighbors. The open floor plan is accessed through a main entry on the upper most floor. This main level is an open environment for cooking, eating and lounging. The floor below contains the primary bedroom suite and a convertible study/bedroom. The lowest level which houses mechanical systems, laundry facility and guest rooms is fully underground, its green roof is a terrace accessed from the study above. All exterior spaces are interconnected with exterior stairs and terraces.
Narofsky Architecture and Design is a multi-discipline design firm established in 1983. Their boutique studio has completed projects in the US and South America. Their work has been published worldwide and has received numerous awards, and has won high profile competitions.
The Long Island Chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave A Life Time Achievement Award to founding principal Stuart Narofsky FAIA, in 2014. He has taught architecture at the NY Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute. He and Partner Jennifer Rusch have devoted time to workshops in Argentina and Bolivia as well as giving lectures in the US, Bolivia, Argentina, Hungary, and Poland.
Partner Jennifer Rusch oversees the interior design for the firm. The Narofsky studio is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of our clients while pursuing innovative and environmentally conscious design.