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Modernist Angular Residence with Vertical Cedar Siding

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Family Matters

Charles Gwathmey’s residential masterpiece, a modest but pioneering home for his parents in the Hamptons, looks as fresh today as it did in 1965.

Modern wood-frame home clad in vertical cedar siding
The wood-frame residence and studio are clad in vertical cedar siding—back then, a daring competitor to clapboard—instead of concrete to save costs. The effect is equally seamless, however: “If you drive by it fast enough,” Charles Gwathmey once said, “you still might mistake it for a concrete house.”

“My father hated privet,” said architect Charles Gwathmey in 2002 while making some small tweaks to the 1,200-square-foot house in Amagansett, New York, that he had designed for his parents 37 years earlier. “He thought it was too bourgeois, and not very neighborly.” The house in question, a modernist gem of small-scale living, made Gwathmey famous at the age of 27 and solidified his reputation in a generation of burgeoning architects.

Modern open-plan living room with gray walls
Inside, the slim cedar boards wrap the walls horizontally, a visual trick that seemingly expands the home’s petite footprint.
Even after subtle updates—like a new privet hedge—the house maintains the efficient yet spacious feel that helped make it an American icon, especially successful on a regional scale and once described as “more convincing than anything else in the Hamptons.” A separate studio building situated at a 45-degree angle to the house is both satellite and anchor to the residence: Together, they look like a pair of avant-garde but enduring sculptures rising out of Long Island’s flat coastal plains.

Wood-frame home clad in vertical cedar siding
The geometric exterior encloses an orderly vertical arrangement of living space.
Wood-frame home clad in vertical cedar siding
The private guest quarters are nestled on the ground floor, while the public spaces (open-plan living-dining room and kitchen on the second level; studio and master bedroom on the top) are elevated to capitalize on views out past the dunes to the Atlantic Ocean.
Wood-frame home clad in vertical cedar siding
Each side of the home is strikingly different, giving the effect of what critic Alastair Gordon called a “Cubist assemblage.”
Wood-frame home clad in vertical cedar siding

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