Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Kowalewski Residence by Belmont Freeman Architects

 Belmont Freeman Architects designed the Kowalewski Residence in Atlantic Beach, New York.

Atlantic Beach is an established beach community on Long Island, immediately outside of New York City.  It is filled with modest houses from the 1920’s and 30’s in Tudor, Spanish and Art Deco styles.  As real estate prices rose in the last decade, the village saw a lot of “tear-down” activity, as older houses were replaced by much larger homes.  The Kowalewski residence is an attempt to insert a distinctly modern house into the village context in a manner that is respectful of the scale and architectural traditions of the community.  The house does not maximize either the bulk or lot coverage allowed by zoning.  It is oriented with the narrow face – only slightly wider than the former house on the lot – toward the street, with the traditional side driveway and rear garage.  Siting the compact footprint at the north edge of the 85-foot-square lot preserves a wide side garden with mature trees.  In form and materials the house recalls the village’s Art Deco heritage.
The 3600 SF house was designed as the primary residence for a family with two small children.  For privacy, the street façade is nearly blank, while the principal rooms all open onto the garden to the south.  The ground floor has an open plan for casual living and maximum connection to the outdoors.  The second floor a hallway with continuous skylight leads to four bedrooms and three baths.  A sun room / guest suite on the third floor opens onto a large roof terrace with panoramic views of the island and the ocean.  The clients are collectors of contemporary art and the work of some of their artist friends – like the marble floor in the entry foyer – is incorporated into the architectural design.
The structure is steel, with light-gauge metal framed floors and walls and energy-efficient EIS envelope.  Principal exterior materials are stucco, black slate, stainless steel and glass.  The steel and wood stair floats in a tower glazed in shingled panels of frosted glass, like an over-scaled jalousie window.

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