FOUR residences in Westchester County — two multifamily and two single-family homes — are among 13 winners of the 2010 Design Awards given every year for the past 20 by the 600-member Westchester-Hudson Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The awards, conferred late last month at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, acknowledge “design excellence and the best architecture recently produced in the chapter area or by a chapter member,” said Raymond Beeler, a Pelham architect and a chairman of the awards committee.
Thematically they seem to share a focus on the environment, and the safest, most practical ways to live within it. The four structures are:
FLOOD HOUSE, MAMARONECK
This 1,700-square-foot two-family house near Long Island Sound was built by Habitat for Humanity for a mother and daughter who lost their 1940s single-family cottage when the Mamaroneck River flooded in April 2007.
Built on concrete piers, the new residence was designed by Jason Taylor, the principal of the J. Taylor Design Group in New Rochelle, and Nick Viazzo, an associate, to rise above floodwaters, to resist hurricane-force winds and to be accessible to persons with disabilities. It uses L- and I-shaped piers as both stilts and buttresses against wind.
“This is a very different-looking house for this neighborhood,” Mr. Taylor said, alluding to the piers. “It looks like something you might find along a beach or perched beside a lake. But it actually sits along a normal suburban street with your standard mix of traditional-style homes.” He used cedar shingles and paint colors that blend with nearby houses.
Each half of the two-family has two bedrooms, a bath and a large living-dining area with a kitchen. Because one of the occupants is elderly, it has an elevator that serves both sides.
Mr. Taylor incorporated energy-efficient and sustainable elements into the house. But it is not certified by the United States Green Building Council as adhering to standards known as LEED (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), he said, because “that entails a lot of record-keeping and a LEED coordinator, which makes it too expensive.” The project, using volunteer labor, cost $250,000.
RIVER TOWN HOUSE, HASTINGS
Christina Griffin, an architect in Hastings-on-Hudson, converted a 1910 railroad flat building into two condominiums, in accordance with the highest level of LEED certification. The structure has thermal panels and is designed to harvest and recycle rainwater, among other things. The three-story building — with glass walls and roof decks at each level — overlooks the Hudson River, the Metro-North railroad tracks and remnants of factories where its original occupants worked.
The architect owns the building. The condos, each with three bedrooms, are both listed at $999,000 and have been on the market for a year. Ms. Griffin questioned whether a market exists for LEED construction. “People say they like the idea of a green house,” she said, “but they don’t want to pay more for one, especially in the current real estate market.”
She said that even though prices for many materials used in green construction had come down in the past 12 months, the condos were far more expensive to build than if she had not sought LEED Platinum certification, the highest level. The cost of the project, including purchase of the land, was $1.3 million.
LINK HOUSE, POUND RIDGE
The three-bedroom residence in Pound Ridge, by Carol Kurth of Bedford, is called Link House in part because it seeks to link 21st-century advances with a midcentury-style aesthetic. One of Ms. Kurth’s first projects, dating to 1983, it has since been occupied and renovated by five different owners.
She was commissioned by the current owners, a retired couple, to return the house to its origins, and to add a guest suite and a large music room.
A trend in renovating today, especially when it comes to modern houses built in the last century, is to simplify, creating what Ms. Kurth describes as a “spa-like serenity.” For example, the bathrooms in the Link House have cedar walls, ivory stone countertops and a floor that resembles concrete — “very natural,” she said, “without any veining or swirling patterns.”
Ms. Kurth observed that in the current climate there are decidedly fewer commissions for residential construction, but that “what we’re doing a lot of these days is breathing new life into homes.”
While declining to provide specifics, the owners said the renovation cost less than $400,000.