A Renovated Usonian Gem Shows Off Modern Organic Architecture

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By Krystal Contreras
Originally built in 1952, the Masson House gets an addition and renovation that honors Frank Lloyd Wright's intent and vision.

The idyllic community of Usonia in Pleasantville, New York, has become a defining marker of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career and a historic icon in American architecture. Built by engineer David Henken and a team of urban dwellers, this vision of an affordable, cooperative, rural community came to life after they enlisted the help of Wright himself to manage and oversee the project. Nearly 60 homes were built with the American middle class homeowner in mind—one of these was Masson House, located by a brook and completed in 1952.

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The original design of the Masson House prioritized the outdoors, affordability, and simplicity—concepts that altogether make up the core of Usonian philosophy. This is highlighted in the initial floor plan of the house— Henken created a triangular plan with long, straight runs and very little detailing to achieve a simple and streamlined feel. He also maximized views of the lush, green terrain and nearby brook by using few interior partitions. 

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Over the years, however, the home would undergo several renovations that skewed away from its original vision. Most recently, Bedford, New York-based architect and designer Carol Kurth was hired to reinvigorate the design and take a modern approach to the residence while maintaining Wright's and Henken’s innovative style, all while working within the Usonian community guidelines. Inspired by the home’s original triangular blueprint, Kurth designed a new triangular addition to complement the original form. This in turn provided more spacious bedrooms, an expanded master bathroom, and introduced skylights for gorgeous natural lighting. 

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Inside, materials such as glass tile and slate surfaces update the new private spaces; the master bathroom boasts a large window and a shower with teak flooring to maintain a connection to the outdoors.

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Taking a page from Usonian ideals of integrating a home with the surrounding landscape and rugged terrain, Kurth designed a new, lower-level multipurpose space that takes advantage of the sloped site and ushers the outdoors in. The design team hunted tirelessly to match the dwelling's original red clay bricks and cypress siding. 

 The new addition and revitalization designed by Carol Kurth and her team provides a family-friendly backdrop for the client’s young family and honors the spirit of Henken’s original Usonian vision.

Project Credits:

-Architect of Record: Carol Kurth Architecture, PC

-Builder: Suburban Construction

-Structural Engineer: E2 Engineering

-Interior Design: Carol Kurth Architecture, PC