Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Saltzman House

East Hampton, New York

1967 - 1969

Slightly inland from the Atlantic Ocean on three acres of flat land near the tip of Long Island, the site for the Saltzman House has some distinguishing characteristics: a windmill by the shore, an adjoining potato field, and the shoreline itself, not visible at ground level. The parallel relationship between the front edge of the property and the shoreline determined the siting of the house, which is elevated to permit views of the sea, the open coast, and Montauk Point. From a distance, the cubic composition appears to flatten into a two-dimensional shape against the background of land and sky.

As in the Smith House, the organization of the plan is based on a programmatic separation of public and private areas. Here, however, the two zones interpenetrate to a greater degree.

The public space opens up like a funnel as the structure rises, so that the integrity of the closed private zone, located along two adjacent sides of the house, is partially eroded on the second level, then disappears entirely on the third. The view to the ocean is dramatically revealed as one moves upward.

Two circulation systems pass up and through the building. Originating in an outside stair attached to a small guesthouse, the first system leads to a bridge linking the guesthouse to the main house. At the second level, it continues via interior stairs along the side of the house connecting the second level to the third. The second circulation system, serving the upper level, rises diagonally across the center of the house, the seam between the public and private zones. Both systems connect to an exterior spiral stair at the corner diagonally opposite the entry.

Credits