Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Maidman House

Sands Point, New York

1971 - 1976

This was a renovation of an existing house on a property overlooking Long Island Sound not far from New York City. The house had an outmoded organization and was in poor condition, lacking both amenity and an identifiable style. What it did have was a magnificent setting, including hundred-year-old maple and oak trees and a park-like surround sloping gently down to a sandy beach. The transformation involved gutting the entire interior except the main stair, while retaining the foundation, basement, exterior bearing walls and roof.

The plan has been reorganized in a simple and traditional way: the more public family-use spaces on the first floor, the master bedrooms on the middle floor, and the children’s bedrooms on top. The double-height living room culminates in a sky lit shaft that passes through the children’s playroom piercing the roof, and connecting the house’s horizontal layers.

On the rear elevation, other vertical elements including a corkscrew slide for the children (or fire escape), the old brick chimney, and a slit window on axis with the entry, counterpoint the more pronounced horizontals of the front elevation. An open cornice line and an elongated entry terrace mediate the slope of the site. The planar expression given to the front fa├žade by the open cornice rigged out from the old roof and to the two side elevations, by treating them like high bookends, provides a foil to the somewhat squat volumetric mass of the house, and is an architectural reference to the house’s former identity.

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