Thoroughly engaging, this Fishers Island modern glass house marries the 180-degree waterfront views of Fishers Island Sound with an architecturally minimalist space by acclaimed New York City architect Thomas Phifer. Glass walls blur the boundaries between outside and inside, offering an unparalleled connection to the land through the lens of modern architecture. The effect is a singularly unique island retreat in a spellbinding setting. The 4,600 square feet house is built as a single-story, 180-foot-long rectangular glass pavilion, 28 feet wide, with a basement underneath. A limited palette of glass, steel, black carbonized bamboo flooring and white walls set the tone for the streamlined interior spaces. A reflecting pool extends outside to the terrace, while an indoor/outdoor moss garden mirrors the surrounding grounds. White gallery walls, perfect for displaying art and highly curated furnishings are the only concessions to interior decorating.
Light and dramatic water views suffuse the interior through glass curtain walls whose transparency allows for views of the water as well the gallery-like interiors. Six skylights are the only overhead lighting in the 11-foot ceilings and a canopy extends around the perimeter of the structure to create shade. A geothermal system controls heating and cooling, literally rooting the house in its environment.
Tastefully positioned on three direct waterfront acres overlooking the Connecticut coastline in the distance, the house is set amidst beautifully mature gardens that are as much a part of the design as the structure itself. Carefully considered, the gardens were designed with lyrical theatricality, following an undulating path through 25 different garden “scenes,” featuring annual and perennial gardens, a rocky shoreline path, a Japanese garden, two fountained garden pools and mature trees. For sculptural effect, an apple tree bosque at the front of the house is pruned to the same height as the roof line, while curvilinear garden beds are punctuated by decorative boulders. A 19th century fountain anchors an allée of fragrant linden trees. Lined with cherry trees, the path leads to a second garden fountain surrounded by rhododendrons and daylilies. Flower beds showcase azaleas, peonies, hydrangea, camellias, Japanese iris and more than 40,000 daffodils. Established trees include fourteen different magnolia tree varieties and sixteen different Japanese maple varieties; as well as lilac trees, beech trees and pines. The landscaping is as abundant as the architecture is reductive and even the garden shed is a minimalist, box-shaped structure nicknamed the “Cube.”
The waterfront view is the protagonist of this property, while the house is the supporting character which owes much of its beauty to its location on Fishers Island. Its privacy and remoteness offer the perfect setting for this exceptional modern house, which is both a livable art gallery and an intimate retreat. An experiential passion project by the owner, Thomas Armstrong - a retired career museum director, from institutions such as the Whitney Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts- the house is a tangible expression of his desire to “live in a garden with art.” The process of developing the property is detailed in his posthumously published book “A Singular Vision: Architecture Art Landscape.” Built on the site of what had been his family summer home for decades, the house fulfills his ambition to live inside an architecturally significant house, surrounded by fine art with show-stopping scenery. That same opportunity is now available for its next owners.
Exclusive Listing Agents
Leslie McElwreath 917-539-3654 and Jim Reid 860-885-9880