What is the function of a vacation house? Escape the city to escape a hectic pace of life. Find peace in a lakeside retreat.
An impressive lakeside vista in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is preserved by spliitting this retreat into two volumes, each tucked into the hillside and covered with grass. One building groups the garage and master suite about a courtyard, while the larger structure situates a gym, pool, and living areas around another courtyard. Most of the spaces open themselves towards the nearby lake.
The approach to this heavily wooded and steeply sloped family retreat on Lake George was to create a series of smaller buildings rather than one large structure. The buildings include a main house, recreation building, two guesthouses, a garage and boathouse. Visitors entering the site, park their cars at the garage from where they take small electric vehicles thereby reducing car usage, pollution and congestion on the site. The main house and recreation building are nestled into the slope with flat roofs that tie into the natural landscape. The flat roofs provide outdoor terrace spaces that can be used for concerts, games and gatherings. Upon approach from the drive, the buildings appear as landscaped terraces through the trees. It is only upon the last hundred feet Matte buildings begin to reveal themselves as they protrude from the land. The unique positioning also minimizes their visual impact from the lake.
The buildings become a play between landform and building, built and natural environment Within the buildings,there is a constant play with the ground plane between inside and outside so thatfrom any level you can step out onto grade. Theroof of the boathouse is a large terrace and spills into the water in a series of stepped terraces that can be used for sunbathing and relaxing.
From an environmental standpoint, the green roofs help mitigate the storm water runoff as well as help insulate the buildings. The wooden screens in front of the windows will act as shading devices to control solar heat gain.
- Grass roofs on the submerged family house serve to absorb summer heat and add insulation to reduce heating and cooling loads.
- Gluck’s work is heavily influenced by his time spent in Japan: the sunken outdoor courtyards envoke the Japanese concept of “engawa,” an extension of interior spaces outside.
- Slatted, Cambia wood screens shade all walls with views toward the lake in both buildings.
- In the more private family house, flooring is locally quarried bluestone. Slatted, Cambia wood screens shade all walls with views toward the lake in both buildings.
- The recreation building features an interior lap pool, steam room, staff lounge, open living area, an interior courtyard, and an art gallery that connects the various spaces up to a second floor glass dining room.
Answered some questions about the project:
Can you describe your design process for the building?
- The client approached us to design and build a family retreat on a steep hillside along a beautiful lakefront to accommodate many guests staying lengthy times. The property afforded 180 degree views of the lake, but with a very steep 300’ elevation change. There was no flat land to build on. It was a sensitive site with the Lake Commission very concerned about the visual impact of large buildings on the lake.
- From the beginning our instinct was to blur the line of the ground plane to integrate the experience of the building with the unique topography of the sloping site. Creating a series of smaller buildings instead of one large structure would also allow a play between landform and building, inside and outside.
- The building takes an anti-heroic stance and constructs a sequential living experience oriented to the beauty of the lake and the wooded landscape. The building is less ‘object’ and more the result of the spatial experience of moving through the sculptural landforms weaving in and out, up, down and through the topography of the hillside. Upon arrival to the house from the drive, the long view to the lake disguises the presence of generous residential spaces for living and recreation below.
- Burying the bulk of the building reduces its impact and generates a natural geothermal effect on energy consumption. The new occupiable green roofs in fact create new ground, allowing for recreational spaces not originally there.
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?
- Our working approach is Architect Led Design Build. The process allows the design to continue to evolve through its construction on site. Throughout, there is constant feedback as critical costs are identified so that realistic choices can be made. Hands-on involvement with the construction process is parallel to the “dirty” hands associated with traditional craft, the result being a true modern craft that is not sentimental or nostalgic.
How does the building compare to other projects in your office, be it the same or other building types?
- This strategy has been explored in quite a few of our projects to balance the requisite bulk of clients’ program requirements with the beauty and other demands of the site and its surrounding neighbors.
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?
- There has been a growing trend to blur the edges between land and form; to move away from the building as object, making it a more relevant set of experiences, transitions for adaptable and more complex use.
GLUCK+ (Peter Gluck and Partners):
Inspired by the tradition of Adirondack Great Camps, this modern family retreat is an escape nestled into a heavily wooded lake front property in Upstate New York. Visitors to the site are invited to leave behind the fast paced urban life and enter a serene environment where the focus is on nature, friends, family and relaxation.
The campus of buildings consists of a garage at the top of the hill, two guesthouses in the woods and the recreation building, family house and boathouse at the lakefront. The forms of the Family House and Recreation Building snake in and out of the contours of the land, buried into the hillside and seamlessly integrating into the landscape with ample green roofs for concerts, games and gatherings.
Designed as a focal point for family and friends, the Recreation Building includes an open living area for casual and formal entertaining with views of the Boathouse and an interior courtyard amphitheater for chamber music recitals or impromptu table tennis matches. An art gallery connects the various recreational options and continues up to the second floor glass dining room. Three skylights puncture the roof and bring natural light down into the lap pool, hot room and staff lounge.
The Family House is the more private of the two buildings, designed to allow a playful interaction between indoor and outdoor living and to achieve a less prescribed entry and movement through the building. Indoor rooms open up to become sleeping porches, while the sunken courtyards become outdoor living room alluding to the Japanese concept engawa, extending the sitting room of the master suite out to the landscape. Both buildings have wood screens that break up the reflections of the glass facades facing the lake as well as modulate privacy, scale the facade and soften the interior light.
Project name: Lakeside Retreat
Location: Adirondack Mountains, New York, United States
Coordinates: 43.576357, -73.645764
- Type By Characteristic: Green & Sustainable House, Holiday House, Luxury House
- Type By Site: Lake House, Countryside / Suburb House
- Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Steel House
Structural system: Steel and Concrete
Site Area: 21 acres
Project Area: 10,600-square-foot submerged family house and the 11,100-square-foot recreation building
Project Year: 2010
Completion Year: May 2010
Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: GLUCK+ (Peter Gluck and Partners) – 423 West 127th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10027, United States
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
MEP/FP Engineer: IBC Engineering Services
Lighting Designer: Lux Populi
Interior Designer: Holmes Newman and Partners
Wood Sliding Screens and Rainscreen Cladding: Cambia Wood
Green Roof System: American Hydrotech
Floor/Wall Stone Tile: Tompkins Bluestone
Plaster Walls: Art in Construction
Stair Treads: Armster Reclaimed Lumber
Cabinet/Custom Millwork: Mack Custom Woodworking, Larry Hayden Cabinetmaker, Resident Artists, Inc.
Text Description: © Courtesy of GLUCK+ (Peter Gluck and Partners), newyork-architects, archrecord
Images: © GLUCK+ (Peter Gluck and Partners), Paul Warchol