265-66 BAY WALK
Architect: HORACE GIFFORD, 1968.
An inspired synergy with a knowledgeable client led to a rare collaboration for Horace Gifford. J. Hyde Crawford (1930-2013) was a multitalented illustrator, designer of the Bonwit Teller logo, and founder of Quadrille Fabrics. As Gifford recalled, Crawford “was a delightful client who knew exactly what he wanted.” Since both men could draw, they exchanged sketches, a twist on the usual process of an architect presenting plans to a client for approval. Three separate high-ceilinged volumes requested by Crawford housed a guest wing, a living area, and a master suite. Gifford joined these pavilions with two glass bridges that held a guest bath and the dining room. Crawford’s informed influence nudged Gifford out of his formula of a single grand space surrounded by subservient bedrooms. Every room surprised—even the closets, which were circular and skylit. Asked by House and Garden how he could coax such a measure of luxury out of a modest budget, Gifford explained that “the luxury details are a matter of using standard things in an un-standard way.” A prefabricated fiberglass unit served as the basis for Gifford’s constructing a round shower, which he then embellished with wood cladding and a bubble skylight. He made gray square tiles look fresh by setting them on the diagonal.
Outside, the roofline undulated from room to room, yet a quality of serenity prevailed, since the house was so well integrated into its double lot on the Great South Bay. “The outstanding feature of the house is that we did not diminish the beauty of the site in any way. Glass tends not to enclose—that’s why we used so much of it.” Windows underneath countertops created the illusion of floating slabs, as circular skylights cast dramatic and unpredictable shadows upon an otherwise orthogonal architecture. “Once we decided to break the rectangles with circular forms—cylindrical showers and closets, round skylights—marvelous things began to happen,” said Crawford.
This home is featured in Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction.
Exterior Images: H. Gifford/Yale Wagner. Interiors: Bill Maris. Illustrations: J. Hyde Crawford. Magazine: New York Times Magazine/Richard Champion.