Sitting on a scenic lot in a wooded neighborhood not far from New York City, this single-family house consists of 5500 square feet (510 square meters) of primary living area, plus a fully finished basement and a three-car garage. The program consists of a large eat-in kitchen, formal dining and living rooms, a media room, a study, a large master suite, three children’s bedrooms, a family room, and a guest bedroom. The conditioned basement compliments the primary living spaces, incorporating an expansive children’s play area, a media center, and a small gym.
The house sits on a fairly conventional, albeit somewhat large, suburban lot of just under one acre, or about .4 hectares. The house addresses the suburban setting in a thoughtful manner. The distinctive public facade is shaped by tightly configured circulation zones, which run parallel to the street and are defined by a series of planar façade manipulations.
The design of the house formally presents itself to the public realm while addressing often overlooked matters of entry with a large door that stands up to the scale of the house from the street. The dynamic entrance canopy provides shelter and a formal relationship to the driveway as one approaches the house. In this way, the architecture responds to the typical suburban condition that favors the car as the primary means of transportation.
Physical and visual connections through the house are carefully choreographed.
The rear of the house is more animated than the front façade; its one- and two-story volumes interact with the back of the property where most of the family activities take place. This side of the house is defined by a double-volume transparent cube and several more solid volumes that create ambiguity in the line between indoors and out. A free-standing outdoor dining pavilion rendered in the same materials as the house further blurs this distinction.
The rear terrace extends the occupancy of the house to the site at large, enlarging the family’s ability to enjoy the larger property beyond the home’s interior. The terrace surface wraps around the swimming pool and provides a clearly defined hard-scape that compliments the more softly defined landscape of the yard itself. The property is unified through a clearly defined axis that runs perpendicular to the entry façade and runs from the street to rear of the property linking the house and site from front to back.
Just as the envelope of the house is expressed with great intention in order to unify the spatial sequences of indoors and outdoor spaces, the horizontal planes that define the roof and floors are purposefully punctuated with openings to unite the house from top to bottom.
The roofline of the entry sequence is separated slightly from the front façade, helping to modulate the front plane of the house with shadow and unexpected light, while a cutout in the roof-plane provides a glimpse of sky above. Similarly, the interior open stair, which is capped by a large skylight, pierces the interior of the house with a three-story space that brings natural light into the center of the house. The dynamism of the stair is increased by the quality of light that changes over the course of the day and the year.
The complex spatial relationships between adjacent living areas are rendered in a more minimal architectural vocabulary and palette, expressed in stucco, wood screens & cladding, stainless steel rods, and window planes and cut-outs that define the volumes. Walnut floors and porcelain tiles in variations of grey define the ground planes. Natural light and shadow are purposefully manipulated with the large planar openings, while the exterior façade is dappled and softened by tree-filtered daylight.
Gross Floor Area (mq)510
Design teamEric Gartner, Joy Wang, Aries Liang, Caroline Edwards
Photo CreditsPeter Murdock
SPG Architects is an award-winning mid-sized architectural firm based in New York City. Headed by two partners, SPG provides a comprehensive range of architectural and interior services. The firm has served our clients on a wide variety of regional, national, and international projects that include single- and multi-family residences, retail environments, corporate interiors, and institutional and hospitality buildings and spaces. SPG Architects' modernist approach to design allows for the various functions of a space to be organized and expressed while eliminating the cacophony of the untended environment. Architectural ideas are drawn from the project site and the client's needs and desires, which are then expressed through manipulations of form and light. An interest in up-to-date building technologies and construction materials, both natural and man-made, further informs the design, and the judicious use of materials provide tactile, visual, spatial and temporal experiences.