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June 15-30, 2008


FEATURES

Another Dimension

(Page 2 of 3)

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He chose the cedar planks because they are reminiscent of the concession stands at old ocean beach clubs, complete with a wooden canopy to shade the windows. The drawbridge also signifies the bridge over the Southampton inlet: the defining entry to the Hamptons.

"It all evokes my familiarity with the area," says Mindel, a longtime seasonal resident. Years ago, after buying the land, Mindel consulted with Reed Morrison, his best friend from architecture school at Harvard. Ultimately, Morrison served as associate architect on the house. They brainstormed about it for a year.

"I wanted to show you can do architecture in the Hamptons that is respectful of the site," says Mindel. "Little did I know after I went to Harvard what impact the history of architecture would have on me. My design studio when I was there was led by Jerzy Soltan, who worked for Le Corbusier, and he familiarized us with the great influences of architecture: the Bauhaus, the work of Aalvar Aalto, Corbu, Jean Prouve, Charlotte Perriand, Arne Jacobsen, Louis Kahn, Richard Neutra and Mies van der Rohe."

"As I began practicing architecture—mostly the interiors of small residences—the names of those mentors seemed even more important. I was determined to find a way to preserve and respect their history."

"Years later, when this house was complete, I realized that their works are integrated into the building and actually form its archaeology. The project is an intellectual collage of my education."

As soon as you enter the south-facing wing, which contains the foyer, kitchen, a gallery and two guest rooms, you know you are not in an ordinary house. The perfectly smooth concrete walls (a nightmare to achieve, requiring three sets of contractors) are tall and massive. A poured concrete stair to one side is flooded with light. It immediately evokes Kahn's concrete stair at the Yale University Art Gallery.

The spare furnishings in the entry set the tone for the rest of the house; a few pieces of vintage furniture by important 20th-century architects are mixed with a few selections from 21st-century talents. Here, a Corbusier stack of metal shelves is mounted above a rare Arne Jacobsen "Drop" chair from the SAS Hotel in Copenhagen. Next to it is a dramatic laminated wood chair by Mathias Bengston from 2006. It looks like it was inspired by Marilyn Monroe's petticoat after it flew up in a blast of air from a subway grate in "The Seven-Year Itch".

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