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Problem-Solving In Paradise

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

New York City-based SPG Architects faced plenty of challenges when designing this modernist beachfront home that borders Fire Island’s dunes, including strict FEMA and local codes, specific view corridors, and a detailed wish list from the clients. “Multiple site, code, and zoning restrictions, along with the client’s program requirements, were a puzzle to be solved,” says firm partner Coty Sidnam, who worked with project manager Sandra Aranguren-Langston on the project. 

Imagining a structure that addressed these concerns meant lifting the house high on pilings, concealing storage areas with breakaway enclosures that make up the first of the structure’s three architectural volumes, and rotating and offsetting those volumes to capture ocean views and create outdoor space. 

The house accommodates the clients’ requested movie viewing capabilities, water sport equipment storage, and a ventilation design that wouldn’t require an air conditioning system, among other features. Accordingly, the five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom property houses sleeping quarters on its lower levels and an open living space upstairs to maximize views, and uses strategically placed windows and skylights to ensure air circulation. 

The innovative engineering design was matched by its cutting-edge aesthetic. “[The house is] modern in expression and abstract in form,” SPG partner Eric Gartner says. “The fact that this house was more modernist than any previously designed in the village caused angst during the building department review process and construction. All parties on the team were prepared for some push-back from the community. However, contrary to expectations, there was overwhelming support for and interest in the house—sometimes from the most unexpected quarters.” 

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