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GRAND ENTRANCE (click photo for larger view)
ON THE SOUND
This Connecticut property, which slopes down to Long Island Sound, posed an atypical condition: it measured eight hundred feet in length but only one hundred feet in width, compelling us to dramatically compress what would ordinarily have been a volume elongated to capitalize on the view. Our clients' fondness for French medieval architecture, specifically the Cistercian abbeys of Burgundy, provided the solution.
Though the design strategy began in Burgundy, it moved west to embrace elements of the Norman style. This influence is most apparent in the first-floor great room, an unbroken span of seventy-five feet—the house's full interior width—loosely divided into library, living, and family areas. We were also inspired by the instances, often found in historic structures, in which fragments from different periods collide to unexpectedly poetic effect.
One of the most unexpected features—the pond that fills the entire forecourt—was suggested by our client. Rather than being at odds with our medieval mélange, this Asian-style water garden seems—like the residence itself—to be part of the long, varied history of the site.
CTC&G: Who are your biggest influences in architecture?
JB: Our knowledge of architectural history. We have our favorites of the past, of course, such as Palladio, John Sloane, Stanford White, Bernard Maybeck, Adolf Loos, Gio Ponti, to name a few.
JI: I just love Frank Lloyd Wright. Still.
TK: I'm influenced a lot by what I see and experience. I listen and look, and almost channel the design.
CTC&G: How do you approach each project?
JB: Gut feeling, transformed by dialogue and listening. Honestly, though, you do wake up some mornings and feel like doing a Mediterranean villa!
JI: We talk to our clients and find out what they're comfortable with. Often it's the tradition of a place, but other times it may be inspired by a trip they've taken or an image from a magazine.
JB: Every place and time has its own spirit or character. A house is a rare opportunity to reinforce, refine, enhance or completely re-direct this character. It's quite a privilege.