Project Type:Single Family Home, Housing, Rural, Project Location:Pound Ridge, New York
Awards and Acknowledgements:Archirectural Record:2018 Record HousesDesign Features:Post and Beam Timber Construction, Daylighting, Fireplaces, Exposed Timber, Skylights, Douglas Fir, Custom Furniture, Japanese-Style Modernist
Levels Above Ground:
Most architects would be pleased to design a weekend house for loyal clients in a picturesque country setting. But when Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown heard that Josie and Ken Natori wanted a Japanese-style modernist retreat, it gave them pause. The partners in the New Yorkâ€“based Tsao & McKown Architects, feared creating something that looked like a set from Teahouse of the August Moon, especially in the village of Pound Ridge, an hour north of New York City, known for its charming old fieldstone and clapboard houses. â€śWe didnâ€™t want to do Disney,â€ť says Tsao.
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Of course, the Natoris didnâ€™t want that either. But Josie, the Filipino-born lingerie designer, and Ken, a third-generation Japanese American and her companyâ€™s chairman, did have an affinity for the wood framing, delicate details, and flowing spaces of traditional Japanese architecture, along with a wish for easy connections to the outdoors. While neither Tsao (born in Hong Kong and schooled in the U.S.) nor McKown (raised in South Carolina) claimed to have personal experience with Japanese architecture, they are both familiar with Asian cultures through their travels and tastes. In the end, they came up with a discreet and elegant solution. â€śWe sought to create the feeling of Japanese architecture, but not replicate a style,â€ť says Tsao. The evolution of the design was immeasurably aided by the close relationship of the architects to the clients: they had designed residences for the couple in New York and Palm Beach, as well as show rooms and boutiques for the Natori fashion business. â€śIt is a real joy to work with architects who understand what you have in mind,â€ť says Josie. â€śCalvin can finish my sentences.â€ť
The 29-acre property, studded with rocky outcroppings as well as pines, birches, and hemlocks, came with a pre-Revolutionary house near the road where the Natoris had spent weekends since buying the place in 1984. While the cottage had been remodeled over time, it stayed true to the townâ€™s historic character. When the couple finally decided that small windows and separate rooms, however quaint, were too claustrophobic, they turned it over to their son and his family, and contacted their architects.
After closely studying the grounds, Tsao and McKown decided the house should be set on a ledge of glacial rock, looking down a slope toward the original house, a pond, and the road. â€śThe actual siting was the exc
(Source: Architectural Record)