In brilliant daylight, the Salt Point House has an ethereal presence as elusive and weightless as a mirage, its edges seemingly dissolving into the surrounding forested landscape. Yet with changing light, the house transforms itself, shifting by turns from gossamer and nearly transparent to opaque and quietly monumental. Perhaps even more remarkable: the architecture achieves these poetic qualities with a modest palette of ordinary materials and simple volumes. In the most basic terms, the house is an open-ended, painted-cedar box, lined in maple plywood and overlaid on two sides with corrugated screens of perforated, stainless steel. Its brief could hardly have been more humble. The clients, a New York City couple, wistful for the key elements of their former weekend getaway—the rustic hunting shack they had once hoped to buy—wanted a small, comfortable, easily maintained, two-bedroom retreat with an open living area and a screened-in porch. Certainly, no exotic requirements, but in the sheer modesty and economic restraint of this commission, the architects found opportunity to distill form, proportion, materiality, and detail to their essence. Inspiration also came, abundantly, from the site—an idyllic clearing on a wooded, nine-acre parcel in New York’s Hudson Valley, along a pond that spills into a small waterfall.
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