566-67 DRIFTWOOD WALK
Architect: HORACE GIFFORD, 1972, & Addition 1980.
Though significantly altered since the 1990’s, 566-67 Driftwood Walk stands as the consummate example of Horace Gifford’s mature period.
Norton and Marlo Sloan, one of many heterosexual couples who embraced the freewheeling culture of the Pines, commissioned a luxurious home whose smooth volumes appeared to have washed up on their site. Curved spaces extended, clover-like, from a lofty living room animated by the painterly slash of a diagonal stairway. A mirrored wall brought ocean views to both sides of the space. A leather ottoman bridged the conversation pit, while the dining room projected like a prow towards the ocean. Outside, a lazy Susan lounge rotated to catch the best rays for the sun-worshipping Marlo Sloan. The hard-living couple divorced and sold their home a few years later, and Calvin Klein became its new owner in 1977. He then acquired the lot to the rear and hired Horace Gifford to add a pool, a gym, a garden, and quarters for the “pool boy.” Doors to one side of the pool pivoted to expose a grand stair that led down to a grove of mature trees, helicoptered in for instant effect. After his daughter was kidnapped in 1978, Klein became obsessed with privacy and security. Tall fences and security systems soon transformed the former Sloan residence into the Calvin Klein compound. Celebrities were not the only ones who began to screen out prying eyes. The increasing number of swimming pools required fences, and non-native flower gardens were fenced off from the deer who once roamed with impunity. Such developments began to erode the free-flowing qualities that made the Pines such a public place to enjoy private architecture. A certain intimacy was lost, but the Pines entered the 1980’s as a renowned resort with an impressive architectural pedigree to match.
Hurricane Gloria nearly destroyed the home in 1985, but Calvin Klein restored it. It was a principal setting for Longtime Companion, the first wide-release drama to address the AIDS epidemic. Rose Tarlow undertook many changes to the home in the 1990’s for new owner David Geffen. The stair was moved, the conversation pit was filled in, the wood-clad interiors were clad in drywall, and the ocean-facing Juliet balcony was filled in to create a second-story bay.
This home is featured in Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction.
Photo shoot: Tom Yee. Scale model, construction photo, and plant-filled interior photos: Horace Gifford courtesy Christopher Rawlins. Calvin Klein portrait: Barbara Walz c/o Kevin Walz. Hurricane photo: Steve Molzon. GMHC photo and aerial view: courtesy FIPHPS. Pool photo: Patrick Lehman.