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  1. ArchDaily
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  4. United States
  5. Charles Gwathmey
  6. 1967
  7. AD Classics: Gwathmey Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey

AD Classics: Gwathmey Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey

AD Classics: Gwathmey Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey
AD Classics: Gwathmey Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey, © Scott Francis
© Scott Francis

Courtesy of gwathmey siegel & associates architects © Cameron Art Museum © Scott Francis © Scott Francis +8

Part of the New York Five, architect Charles Gwathmey designed the Gwathmey Residence and Studio for his parents in 1965. The house was located on a one-acre flat site on eastern Long Island, New York near the ocean surrounded by undeveloped land (this land was planned to be used for an addition to the house). As his first residential project, Gwathmey was given the freedom by his parents to have full control of the design as long as it was in their $35,000 budget.

© Scott Francis
© Scott Francis

Gwathmey intended for the house to be sculpture on the site, and he approached this by carving out primitive forms, such as cubes, to create different spaces. The "carving" of these spaces was determined by responses to the site, solar orientation, program, and structure. The intended spaces for the original 1200 square foot house were a living and dining space, kitchen, master bedroom and studio, two guest bedrooms, and a workroom.

Courtesy of gwathmey siegel & associates architects
Courtesy of gwathmey siegel & associates architects

Due to the limited budget, a parti and vernacular were developed for the house so that this system could later be used for the future construction. The design was approached in section which created a vertical scheme and organization of spaces.

© Scott Francis
© Scott Francis

The house can be divided into three distinct levels: the "base," which is the location of the workroom, the covered terrace, and guestrooms, the "habitatable" level which contained the living room, dining room, and kitchen, and the third level, which is also the most private space, with the master bedroom and studio that are pushed back with a balcony overlooking the double height living room. By making the second level the more public rooms, Gwathmey established a new relationship between public space and the ground level, creating a situation unique from conventional residential projects.

© Cameron Art Museum
© Cameron Art Museum

One year after the house was completed, an addition was constructed with a new studio and guestroom. The addition is a completely separate building but it involved the same idea of carving out spaces from a geometric form that was sculptural on the land, and the section of the original house was also used in the design.

© Scott Francis
© Scott Francis

The new studio and guestroom have the presence of a movable object, as opposed to the original house which seems embedded into the ground. The addition is also placed at a 45 degree angle to the original building creating a corner versus facade condition that is dynamic in itself and with the site.

© Scott Francis
© Scott Francis

Wood-frame construction covered with cedar siding for the interiors and exteriors was used for both the residence and studio. Some windows are placed solely within the cedar siding itself, while others have frames painted in red, yellow, or black.

Thought to have been inspired by Le Corbusier's houses of the Cité Henri Frugés (especially noticable on the exterior with the curved staircase in an otherwise rectilinear scheme), Gwathmey's Long Island Residence and Studio emphasize three-dimensional objects through the volumetric interpenetration of solids and materials, such as the glass and wood, to create functional voids. 

The design approach was also a step towards modernism, and the perfect geometry in his volumes created expanisve spaces which Gwathmey later inhabited himself.

© Scott Francis
© Scott Francis
Cite: Adelyn Perez. "AD Classics: Gwathmey Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey" 20 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


Matt Bardon · November 29, 2012

I agree it was aesthetically his best project probably due to the fact that he was employed by his own parents. I doubt that there were many more client restrictions than the cost, a mere 35,000, in which case he did pretty well. The actual work you are able to do differs greatly from the work you can do. After all this is a profession, architects cannot simply make sculptures. In actuality, Gwathmey designed these buildings as sculptural objects set upon the landscape, thereby giving this project a more artistic ethos. There are essentially two ways to look at this building, from the inside or outside. Outside it is a testament to his admiration for his teacher Louis Khan and his infatuation with the work of Le Corbsier. However, indoors, it is its own animal entirely. Speaking more to an American motif, using built-in features like those in Wright Houses, and advocating the use of wood. The program is organized vertically denoting the served and servant spaces, and the section is based upon the modular measures of Le Corbusier. So, moreover these buildings appear to me as more of a showcase of his education than anything. Being a part of the first generation of architects to be versed in the modernist style, this design is more a synthesis of what he learned than a creative masterpiece. There is nothing new or groundbreaking going on here, the only thing he really innovates is his slight use of color. However the synthesis of these parts to create a unified whole deserves credit, for it is a stunning set of buildings. RIP Gwathmey

Thatchai Kaewkalya · July 16, 2010 @plethoraapp

anggi · July 06, 2010

Reading: "AD Classics: Gwathemy Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey | ArchDaily"( )

bluevertical · May 30, 2010

Gwathemy Residence and Studio by Charles Gwathmey #architecture #modernism #color *cool story

Mies van der Rohe · May 25, 2010

Gwathmey Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey

hsuchangming · May 24, 2010 (AD Classics: Gwathemy Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey)

Mariá™ · May 23, 2010

RT @jbint: Interior Resource:Hey @AnOtherMagazineThose Shoes are something!loves the Architecture!Oh so beautiful #design

julie browning bova · May 23, 2010

Interior Resource: Hey @AnOtherMagazine Those Shoes are something! @jbint loves the Architecture !Oh so beautiful #design

Ahmad Rouse · May 22, 2010

RT @AnOtherMagazine Architecture classics. Oh so beautiful! - house with $35000 budget, wow but 67 was a good year

AnOtherMagazine · May 22, 2010

Architecture classics. Oh so beautiful!

gbh · May 21, 2010

AD Classics: Gwathemy Residence and Studio / Charles Gwathmey: © Scott Francis
Part of the New York Five, architec...

jordan · May 21, 2010

the description mentions the importance of the section in the design a few times, but its not provided anywhere on the page. im really interested to see it. can anyone provide?

Robledo Duarte · May 20, 2010

Who said that modern architecture can't be a masterpiece? That's the answer.

shetu · May 21, 2010 10:37 AM

Seriously.....who said that?

rodger · May 20, 2010

his first and best project.
it was all down hill from there out.


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