Completion Year: 2017
Program: 3,400 SF, Single Family Residence
Beinfield Project Team: Bruce Beinfield FAIA, James Wassell, Cris Gonzalez
General Contractor: RDC Construction
The home is located on a 500’ long by 25’ wide spit of land extending into the Farm Creek tidal estuary. The site was created by fill in 1894, to support trolley tracks to a major amusement park nearby on Long Island Sound. The hurricane of 1938 doomed the historic park, with only remnants and faded photographs surviving. Those photos revealed a series of spirited barnlike structures, intertwined with a wooded roller coaster characterized by expressive diagonal bracing. The trolley trestle over the channel shared the same honest expression of 19th century structural design, and craftmanship.
The house honors that heritage, speaks of resilience and sustainability, and fosters an intimate relationship with the wildlife that inhabit the estuary environment. Structural, mechanical, storage systems, and fenestration patterns were used to define the rooms within.
Setbacks yielded a 12.5-foot-wide street façade. The whimsical expression is that of a simple barn, with salvaged siding remembering a past life, and intentionally masking the buildings age.
The main portion of the house consists of a 16’ by 75’ rectangle which floats above the earth on concrete piers to let flood waters flow beneath. Steel operable glass walls open up to the natural environment. The exoskeleton of lateral bracing shield storm shutters that protect the large operable glazed surfaces from storms, and provide additional insulation on winter nights. A concrete floor with radiant piping provides a passive solar heat sink.
Structural bays marked by steel girders separate the interior spaces. Heavy timber beams, raw steel, concrete and copper surfaces endow the place with industrial strength organic warmth. Spiral ductwork that penetrates the steel ties the spaces together.
A dynamic tension reflects the owner’s sensibilities. He, the architect, imposed a rigorous underlying order as an armature for her, the artist / collector to layer on the chaos of life. That dialog animates the home. In the attic studio, the artist prevails.