The design objective for the residence was to create a series of spaces that evoke serenity while providing elements of surprise. The site, which plays a powerful role in achieving these goals, is located within a clearing that is part of 75 acres of woodland in Western New York. Thus the house is at once secluded allowing for an intimate relationship with the woods on the north, east and west, yet possessing wonderful views to the south thanks to a significant grade change in that direction.
The residence is anchored by a series of heavy zinc plated walls and the tiled “concrete plateau” of the first floor. The zinc walls segment the site and create spaces of varying scale. The walls perform a dual role; one as retaining walls that shape the existing topography and another as a device for the alignment of interior spaces to take advantage of natural daylight. The entry walk is edged by a low plaster wall that slices through the house/site on a north-south axis separating major interior and exterior spaces. Openings are designed in the zinc and plaster walls to provide framed views of the surrounding landscape, sculpture, interior spaces, and the building itself.
The program required a variety of spaces to showcase the owner’s extensive collection of artwork, to accommodate both large and small social events, and to create connections between the interior and exterior spaces, while providing an environmentally aware design. The use of geothermal wells and solar panels are examples of the design systems implemented to make the project energy neutral.