Alexander Gorlin Architects is an award-winning design firm that embraces a diverse range of clients for whom they apply the same degree of design excellence. With offices in New York City and Miami, the firm is renowned for its ability to create comfortable, welcoming spaces with a modernist aesthetic, coupled with their belief in rigorous analysis, synthesis and creativity at every level. They deliver designs which are clean, modern, sophisticated and fun.

Bold architectural statement in historical village

Their latest commission was to create a part-time residence for a large family that would be both private and unobtrusive. The main design challenge was to gain approval for a bold, contemporary architectural statement in a village famed for its historical residences. To achieve this balance, the house was nestled into the rock of its steeply sloped site and utilised locally quarried stone to blend into its surroundings. Many sustainable design strategies were implemented to reduce the environmental impact of the house and its visual impact on the local community.

The resulting home sets a new architectural standard for its community and demonstrates how the house construction process can be conducted in a minimally impactful way.

Blending into the surroundings

Arriving up a winding driveway, the house – which has been clad in a local granite of salmon and grey, with a green roof, and mahogany windows with non-reflective glass – dissolves into its surroundings.

Set into a natural rock shelf, allowing for an L-shaped plan that wraps around an internal rock garden and entry into the level of living space – kitchen dining and living areas.

The entry hall, panelled in reclaimed wood, opens into a hall looking into the garden.

A cantilevered frosted-glass canopy extends over the terrace to allow for outside living in inclement weather. The lower level includes all the bedrooms and private spaces, each with a private terrace looking into the forest. The garage, guest wing and playroom are in the adjoining wing of the plan.

From below, the house takes on the appearance of a castle in the woods, emerging from its rugged and rustic surroundings.

Minimising the environmental impact

Careful attention was paid to ensure the preservation of the site’s precipice and natural vegetation. Both the location and orientation of the plan were adjusted multiple times to minimise the removal of trees. Similarly, the driveway’s path weaves around older trees to preserve them.

The building’s footprint was minimised by incorporating the mechanical room underneath the house, rather than adjacent to it. In total, 60% of the site was left untouched to allow the clients to enjoy the landscape’s wild character.

Superb sustainable design features

The design incorporated multiple sustainable design features in order to minimise the house’s impact on its environment. These features include a drainage system along the driveway that redirects rainwater runoff to supply the courtyard garden’s irrigation system.

A green roof replaced vegetation removed by construction, and heavy machinery was brought onto the site using protective boards in order to minimise damage to the landscape itself. These initiatives contributed to a construction process that was carried out with a minimal impact to the site.

This house establishes a new contemporary architectural vernacular for a community characterised by 1880s Tudor-style historic homes. This was done in a sensitive fashion, and in collaboration with the town’s architectural review board.

• Architects: Alexander Gorlin, Cyrus Sarrafha and Scott Benedict, Alexander Gorlin Architects.
• Interior designers: Alexander Gorlin with Judy Olson Dunne, Butter and Eggs.
• Geotechnical engineer: James Beattie, Melick-Tully and Associates, P.C.
• Civil engineer: David Higgins, Lanc & Tully Engineering and Surveying, P.C.
• Structural engineer: Nat Oppenheimer, Silman.
• MEP engineer: Gene Eng, GC Eng & Associates, P.C.
• Lighting designer: Randy Sabedra, RS Lighting Design.
• Acoustical consultants: Carl Rosenberg, Acentech Inc.
• Specification writer: Aaron Pine, Construction Specifications, Inc.
• Waterproofing: Justin Henshell, Henshell & Buccellato.
• Building envelope inspections: Robert J Zmijewski, RZ Associates, LLC.
• Construction manager: Gerry Holbrook, Taconic Builders.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to for the use of the information contained in this article.

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