Salt Point House as viewed from the driveway.
Sunlight streams through the glazed east facade and trees cast shadows on maple plywood paneling.
The living area connects to a double-height, screened cedar porch that looks out onto a pond.
One of the strip windows continues along the screened porch, framing horizontal views of the landscape.
The perforated stainless steel panels extend beyond the exterior of the screened porch.
The house's skin has a complex relationship with light. When light shines directly on it, it appears opaque. When light is present behind the screen, the skin becomes sheer.
One of the two second-story bedrooms that look out onto the pond.
Three square steps lead to an understated front entrance.
The house's skin takes on a delicate, veil-like quality. Skylights in the porch are visible.
A back door leads into the porch, where skylights glow above.
With light shining directly on the southern elevation, the panels appear opaque and serve as a projection screen for the tree shadows that dance across their surface.
The house as viewed through the trees. The screens create a halo effect.
Thomas Phifer’s ethereal Salt Point House makes its presence known on the landscape while fading into it.
By Beth Broome - This is an excerpt of an article from the January 2008 edition of Architectural Record.
For five years, Manhattan residents Cristina Grajales and Isabelle Kirshner rented a rustic former hunting cabin in Dutchess County, New York, for weekend getaways. The couple fell in love with the place and hoped someday to buy it. When they learned that the owners were not interested in selling, they were crestfallen. But their spirits soon lifted when they found an idyllic 9-acre parcel of land on a small, stream-fed pond a few miles away in the hamlet of Salt Point. Now all they needed was an architect.
The couple, a gallery owner/design consultant and a lawyer, respectively, had admired the work of Manhattan-based architect Thomas Phifer, but only from a distance: Grajales had seen his Taghkanic Residence in Elle Decor. “I was scared to call him because I was afraid he was already too famous,” she says. As fate would have it, the two were introduced at a fund-raising event they attended. “It was destiny,” says Grajales, who added that Phifer did not seem deterred by either the small size of the house they hoped to build or their budget.
Grajales and Kirshner’s demands were basic: They wanted their new house to do everything the old cabin did—it should be small, easy to maintain, and affordable. The program should also be similar and include two bedrooms and baths; a bunk/study room; a large, open living area; and, importantly, a screened porch. “It was an ideal challenge,” says Greg Reaves, a partner at Thomas Phifer and Partners, of the simple requirements. “It was a project we could really get into and work out the details.”
Like a great meal, Salt Point House is made up of a few carefully selected ingredients thoughtfully put together. In the most basic terms, the 2,200-square-foot house is a wood-framed, stained cedar box punctured with skylights and lined in maple plywood with glazing on its short sides and a perforated corrugated-stainless-steel skin on its long sides. “Not exactly a one-liner,” says Reaves, “but what you see is what you get.”