Architectural Digest I


A house recently completed by architect Myron Goldfinger is sited on a spectacular three hundred foot crescent of beach along the north shore of Long Island...

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It is just one of a series he has designed over the past ten years, exploring a very particular set of formal issues. These structures show a consistent fascination with the simplest elements of geometry -circles, squares, triangles - and with the possibilities for their combination and juxtaposition. To Mr. Goldfinger, this preoccupation with such basics represents a form of classicism. That is, within a limited range of elements, he strives for a solution that is perfect in its balance, order, repose and rightness. In this, he is an unabashed formalist, concerned above all with what Le Corbusier described as "the harmonious play of forms in light." Myron Goldfinger is often compared with his contemporaries whose formal predilections resemble his own. The comparison springs, according to Mr. Goldfinger, from a shared identification with Le Corbusier. But, while admitting this mutual ancestry, he bridles at the comparison. "My work," says the architect, "has a kind of softness that is missing in the approach of some of my contemporaries. I take a simpler, more humanistic, more romantic view. I try to give my buildings a temple-like quality, by using basic forms."

Article ImageThe identification with Le Corbusier is important to Mr. Goldfinger. As he says, "other architects may work with Corbusier's hand on their shoulders; their work comes from what they see in him. What I'm doing comes from what he himself saw." It is this vision Myron Goldfinger drew on when designing the Long Island residence. Inspired by recollections of the stark yet subtle massing of the monolithic white stucco mosques of Djerba, the house is, for the architect a breakthrough. With conspicuous pride, he calls it his most poetic work, a work of pure sculpture, the highest point in my thinking to date.


The house is at its best when approached from the sweeping, gently sloping drive.
From this vantage point, the assembled volumes are crisply delineated. Shadows are cast, throwing individual forms into relief and blending them into an artfully controlled sequence. The abstraction is abetted by the surroundings - the structure is banded by the meticulously maintained lawn, on the entrance side, and the saturated cobalt of the sky above. That the structure is habitable architecture is betrayed only by an angled inflection leading to a sliding glass door, through which the waters of the sound can be glimpsed, and by a strip of windows opening to the kitchen.
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The main volumetric motif on the entry side is a series of half-cylinders. The mass of these forms is emphasized by a uniform treatment of the cedar board surfaces, which also knit together the fabric of the whole. Traditional distinctions between roof and wall disappear, making the structure resemble sculpture, rather than architecture. Yet the planking retains strong architectural connotations.

On the water side, the house assumes quite a different character. Here is not the closed-off private facade presented to the road, but rather, a glassy openness, inviting light in. Every room commands a view, but more than that, every major room has direct access to the out-of-doors. If the land side is an essay in impenetrable mass, the sea side is a study in permeability. On the ground level, sliding doors open onto terraces and beach. On the second floor, balconies project towards the water. If, on the entry side, nature is tamed and ordered, to serve a singular vision, here the scrubby landscape is untouched, the object of observation and participation. As an image, the land side remains distilled and abstract. The other, however, inescapably evokes strong formal memories. Here, the split half-cylinder roof form, the low proportion, the flying decks, the tall stack, combine to suggest not simply a ship, but a great side-wheeler.

Article ImageExpressing a strong three-dimensional quality, the residence becomes a piece of sculpture, only hinting at what lies within. The curved element on the left houses the guest quarters and the cabana; the vertical pylon is the chimney stack; the curved drum leads into the house.

An axonometric drawing emphasizes Myron Goldfinger's concern with geometric forms, and their use as habitable living spaces. To the architect, this preoccupation with such basics represents a form of classicism.

A Calder mobile and a vast collection of Picasso ceramics add to the artistic beauty in the Great Hall.

Natural light enters the Music Room through the barrel-vaulted twin domes with triangulated skylight. Adding to the sculptural quality of the space are a chair and a sofa from Saporiti, Italia.

Like a great side-wheeler moving down the beach, the house, of glass and cedar sliding, commands attention.

Architect Myron Goldfinger, who feels "a kinship with Le Corbusier," has designed a home utilizing basic geometric forms to create a simple yet striking structure on the north shore of Long Island. Inspired by the mosques on the island of Djerba, Mr. Goldfinger considers this residence " a pure work of art, over and beyond its architectural intent."

From the water side, the volatile nature of the house is exposed through the openess of the facade, showing the changing character within, as well as the changing nature of the sea. On the entrance side, cylinders, squares and triangles in cedar close the house off, making it a private structure

Architectural Digest II


The concept of modular design has a relatively recent architectural precedent commonly called "clip-on" architecture...

Article ImageThe bold sensuous curves of this hillside house in Montague, New Jersey seem to unfold and multiply, like pieces of a giant mobile. But soon the repeated shapes become more legible, resolving themselves into a home of coherent and imposing style. Architect Myron Goldfinger began with a simple circle, which he developed much as a composer develops a musical theme. The shape is repeated and varied, and its possibilities are explored in various guises throughout the design.

"Whether I'm working with cubes, diagonals or curves, I use a basic building block, a modular element, and develop it from its most simple form. At each stage, the structure can be considered finite." Mr. Goldfinger has developed this design in the step-by-step cellular fashion found in Mediterranean village architecture. He spent seven years studying, photographing and living in these towns, and in 1969 he wrote "Villages in the Sun", a book about Mediterranean village architecture. "Whole villages start with a single isolated building, which grows into a farmhouse, then into a more complicated building, and finally into a village, each community having its own style. Just as in all the villages I've studied, I create a mini-village in every house I design. You might say my ideas have their roots in southern Europe."

Perhaps the best-known example of "clip-on" architecture is "Havitat." Israeli architect Moshe Safdie's modern village built for Expo '67, in Montreal. In Habitat, Mr. Safdie created an entire village from rectangular and cube-shaped units, like building blocks stacked on top of one another. Joined at right angles, Safdie's cubistic units produce a jagged, somewhat severe effect. When Mr. Goldfinger applies a similar principle to curves, the look is entirely different. It is soft, gentle and elusive.

This house, which encompasses 10,000 square feet, is structurally composed of three tall semicircular shafts interconnected by four horizontal levels. Each area unfolds very naturally into the next. It is as if Mr. Goldfinger began his design by taking a large scale and weighing every force and every ingredient -- vertical with horizontal, solid with transparent, curved plane with straight - until he achieved a rhythmic balance and harmony. The curving vertical shafts complement the horizontal drum-shaped balconies; solid masses are interspersed with large transparent areas of windows; curved balconies are balanced on finlike planes overlooking the meadow.

The main rooms of the house -- living room, kitchen, dining room and children's rooms - are all rectangular, a welcome surprise in light of the complex exterior. Many of the smaller rooms, along the edges, are semicircular, making use of the interior of the cylinders. For example, the living room, which is on the second floor, is a rectangular room with a six-foot-square fireplace. Directly off this is a small semicircular library. Oversize windows, spanning the entire length of one wall, lead out onto a drum-shaped balcony. Expansive views of the lake, pool and distant hills counterpoint the stark white walls within. Behind the living room and library is the children's wing, where four bedrooms and a playroom close off to become a unit separate from the rest of the house.

The third floor - the adults' private domain - begins with an interior bridge extending directly over the living room into this open space, which is loosely divided into two areas: a rectangular bedroom and a curved reading corner. Largea windows and a drum-shaped balcony look out to the highest point in the state. Complementing the shape of the balcony are circular skylights.

The architect carefully avoided making the rooms overpowering or impersonal. Taking into consideration the activities of a large family, he provided a basement level with ample space for future needs. A hobby area and dark room are included in the blueprints, and a guest room with separate entrance has already been completed.

Mr. Goldfinger sees his architectural develpement as a natural progression. "When I began, I concentrated on the cube, and multiples of the cube," he says. "I did not think of curves and diagonals at that time. Later, as my work developed, I grew bolder, and my designs expanded to include a richer vocabulary of shapes."

This progression has been experienced by many other architects. Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, began his work with designs that were cubistic and rectilinear; later, in his midwestern Prairie Houses, he concentrated on long horizontal planes; toward the end of his life, he worked with circles, as in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. "At each stage of Wright's development," says Goldfinger, "his work became richer. His wasn't the arbitrariness of an architect borrowing styles blindly from other periods and traditions. The forms were deeply felt."

Mr. Goldfinger considers his work to be different in scale and effect from many of his "post-LeCorbusier" contemporaries whose work is characterized by monolithic massive forms. Like Moshe Safdie, he is committed to concepts he first discovered in the step-by-step growth of villages. Building with small units, rather than with monolithic forms, the architect's design evidences some of the same organic vitality as the Mediterranean villages he has studied. The result, at once innocent and sophisticated, projects a sense of swirling movement, the shifting and reshifting of repeated elements in a sea of space.

Architectural Digest Travels


At Covecastles, Myron Goldfinger's continuing fascination with space, with geometry and with art is given tangible expression...

Article ImageThere are cows and lambs and tethered goats on Anguilla, but no golf courses and only a few swimming pools. The roads are narrow, and when you drive, you drive on the left, for this is a British Dependent Territory. A main road, which boasts the island's only traffic light, bisects the eel-shaped land and passes the airstrip studded with small planes and an occasional private jet.

On the west end of the island, just as the road begins to flatten and curve gently to the left, four glistening white
houses loom into view. Sculptural in form, each identical to the next, they appear to rise seamlessly from an
unspoiled beach of fine white sand. Like sentinels they face the sea. The complex is named Covecastles. Not a hotel, more than a private villa, it is a synthesis of the best of each experience, and the architect's realization of his ideal Caribbean home.

Myron Goldfinger designed Covecastles for himself and his family - people who cherish the privacy in which to be as creative or as relaxed as they choose, and who prefer to do it all in an environment of extreme comfort. Because they believe there are others who share this philosophy, a resident manager has been hired to do as much -or as little - as guests ask. "What we're trying to do here," explains June Goldfinger, an interior designer, is to recreate the feeling of a dear friend saying, Here's the key to my house. I'll be gone for a few weeks but I've left my staff for you. Enjoy yourselves."

Anguilla is not for everyone. Beachcombers, sailors, readers and artists - tennis players too - will feel at home.

Dedicated sightseers, golfers and gamblers must look elsewhere. Neither as tropically lush as its neighbors nor as rainy, it has a pleasant year-round climate. Says June Goldfinger, "There is always a breeze.

For the architect and his wife, the view of the sea and the mountains of nearby St. Martin silhouetted against the horizon was the decisive factor in determining the site of their home. It is a view that changes from aqua to azure to a diamond-studded black velvet at night.

Myron Goldfinger's experience as a young student of architecture traveling in the Mediterranean had distilled for him a personal concept of the unity of art, architecture, nature and man. Excited then, as now, by the universal language of architecture in its purest form - the molded shapes and clean lines of simple dwellings - he observed in his book, "Villages in the Sun," that in the Mediterranean, "the sun was brighter, the shadows sharper and the chiaroscuro more dynamic."

Those words reverberate with fresh vitality in the Caribbean. Covecastles relies on his architectural idiom, geometry, to make a visually dramatic statement. Spare in design and abstract in concept, unlike any other structures on this unspoiled island, the houses feature soft round shapes juxtaposed against strong verticals "to emphasize the inter-relationship of architectural forms," says Goldfinger.

Walking in the sand between the palms, across a tangle of sea grapes and fuchsia-flowered sea beans, rust-crowned cacti and green sage, a guest approaches the villa with a sense of anticipation. There is no hint of what lies within. Privacy is a signature of this architect's work. Hardly visible from the road, the front door is placed between the curve of a massive half-cylindrical shape and a powerful vertical that draws one almost magnetically inside. Once there, all is open.

In effect, June Goldfinger muses, "living in this house is like living in a thatched hut. It's a sheltered outdoor experience in the guise of modern architecture."

Every major living space has an unobstructed view. The living/dining space is bi-level; the kitchen is arranged in linear fashion and boasts a batterie de cuisine that would satisfy the most demanding chef. Its cabinets hold as varied a selection of tablesettings and cookware as June Goldfinger would have in any of her homes.

Although the scale implies grandeur, the villas are not in fact large. There are three bedrooms - a master suite and a two-bedroom wing - separated by a gallery that overlooks the living room. Facing seaward, the curving round roofs amplify the sense of space within.
Neither glass nor screens interrupt the flow of wind or the sound of waves crashing against the shore, the slap of pelicans diving or the conversation of gulls. Windows and doors are adjustable louvered shutters of dark stained wood - as effective at sealing the house against occasional tropical storms as they are at opening it to easterly breezes. Fusing function and art, they cast shadows that make changing pictures against deliberately unadorned walls.

To echo the local natural palette, white washes the walls and red clay tile from the Dominican Republic covers the floors. The sand-hued wicker furniture, which June Goldfinger designed and had made in Hong Kong, consists of club chairs and sofa-like daybeds with deep, welcoming cushions zipped into raw-silk covers. It is appropriate to the expansive feeling the high ceilings create.

As in all great Caribbean homes, a veranda stretches the length of each house. And here again one is struck by a
consciously composed artistic geometry - the outline of shadows, a wedge of sky between the rooftops. Pinned
between two white pylons, even the soft curving form of a hammock becomes an architectural element.

As much as any of his previous work, Covecastles illustrates a comment made by his wife: "If Myron were a musician, he would have perfect pitch."

Caribbean Modernism

Architectural Digest Magazine

With this sort of architecture at Covecastles, the impression is of time stopping...

Beach connoisseurs prize Anguilla's white, powdery sand, clear turquoise water and peaceful atmosphere.
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The sun drenched coral island in the Caribbean's British West Indies is persuasively simple in its offerings: There are no overgrown tropical jungles, no hills lined with sugar plantations, no thicket of quaint shops and hyperactive nightspots. "There are no golf courses either," says the owner of a strikingly sculptural island villa. "That means there are no golfers and no hustle."

He and his wife decided to build in Covecastles, an enclave of distinctively contoured modernist architecture, after renting there for several winters. All the houses are designed by New York architect Myron Goldfinger and his wife, interior designer June Goldfinger, who together founded the resort colony some fifteen years ago on eight and a half acres of Shoal Bay West waterfront property.
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"It had no electricity or water, just splendid beaches,: Myron Goldfinger says of the site, which faces the island of St. Martin. The owner of the most recent Goldfinger-designed house agress with architect's assessment: "The long stretch of beach is extraordinary, he says. "And the surf is so gentle. The sound of the water lapping on the shore creates its own serenity."

 


The Goldfingers first erected four villas - one for themselves, the others for "client friends." The concept, in which the husband-and-wife team was responsibile for the total design of each residence, caught on, and eight attached beach houses were added, along with a restaurant. In an agreement with the Anguillian government, the houses are rented to vacationers when they are not occupied by their owners; a staff on-site manages and maintains the private residential club.

Article ImageThe couple occupy the villa at the center of the complex, which, at 5,000 square feet, is the largest. Their house, unlike the others, is organized around a great room twenty-six feet square and twenty-one feet high. "The room is intended to be the fulcrum of the design," says Goldfinger. "As you go from space to space, you're constantly aware of the two-story-high core." In the bilaterally symmetrical plan, the dinng room and the kitchen are placed on one side of this central area and the living room on the other. The sleeping quarters are similarly disposed on the second floor, where the two bedroom wings are joined by a bridge overlooking the great room.

The alternating single and double height volumes and the curvilinear and flat planes, along with skylights, clere-stories and floor-to-ceiling glass walls and doors, establish a spatially dynamic interior. "There's a nice flowing feeling," says the owner. "While the areas are differentiated from each other, you're not shut away in separate rooms."

In addition to giving the house a strong focus, the great room also yields unsurpassed views of the azure water. "That vista is what it's all about," June Goldfinger observes. "The house is designed as a temple to the water, the sun and the sand."

Exterior PhotoA seventy-six-foot-long terrace spanning the south facade juts forward to the sea in a giant curve on axis with the central room. It is sheltered by a flat, semicircular roof pierced by a square opening that admits daylight to the shaded recesses underneath. This roof in turn supports a second-floor terrace accessible from both bedroom wings. Indeed, every major space in the house opens onto terraces and balconies, many of which are rounded. "It's like being on an ocean liner," comments Myron Goldfinger.

The building's classically symmetrical floor plan contrasts with the asymmetry of the earlier villas and beach houses, whose plans were flipped from one house to another to vary the compound's massing. At the same time, the architecture's basic shapes and straight forward use of materials conform with the modernist rigor of its predecessors. In keeping with the overall feeling of restraint, June Goldfinger designed large rattan chairs and sofas covered with raw silk for this and all the interiors in the community. She discreetly admitted color to the bleached-white sanctuaries, restricting it to the earthy hues of the rattan furnishings, the Brazilian walnut louvered shutters and doors and the terra-cotta tile floors. The "pared-down monastic elegance" of Noel Coward's house on Jamaica, she says, was always in the back of her mind.

For his part, Myron Goldfinger acknowledges that the structures' white concrete geometric forms owe something to Le Corbusier. Their inspiration, he points out, was the same: "We were both taken by the spare, architectonic quality of Mediterranean villages. I discovered what he discovered." We wanted the place to be modern but have an other worldliness about it - a beachfront Brigadoon.

Curve Upon Curve

House Beautiful Magazine

Above all, this powerful house is a success in satisfying the owners personal needs; their love of the sea, art and their grandchildren...
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Open sky, restless sea, rocky bluff - what setting could be more dramatic? And this Sands Point, Long Island N.Y. house, designed by Myron Goldfinger is thrust almost to the edge of the bluff "to fully respect the dynamics of the site."
The architect describes the house as his first opportunity to employ curves, although it uses two themes common to other of his structures: ordered space and building from a modular-unit concept. Contained, concealed, private, the entrance side is closed to all view of its neighboring houses.

It only hints of the explosion of space on the water side, with curving facade and the further excitement of open decks bursting out over Long Island Sound.

The sweeping curves of the exterior are called to mind inside the house by the sensuous, sinuous shapes of the velvet-covered Italian seating system. By contrast, the open double-sided fireplace is a blocky, rectangular form that creates a mini-gallery wall for a painting by George Constant. The flow of space in the living room continues around to the dining room, furnished with classic leather-and-steel Bauhaus furniture, and up into a big double-story space. Hinting of the beach a few steps below is a textured sandy-off-white carpet that runs throughout the house.

And as for the sparkling water, a 180-degree visual sweep from this side of the house offers a spectacular view of the sea and horizon from every major room. But this ever-present sea view isn't the only reason the house gives an impression of being aboard ship. Note Architect Goldfinger's use of stainless steel railings on the deck, railings that were custom-fabricated for this house by a ship-building firm. Inside, vertical blinds draw easily whenever the glare of the sun on the water becomes a little too strong for comfort.

Article Image"We wanted this house to be a paradise for our grandchildren, and it is. They come here to play, fish and swim and the great thing is that there is nothing for them to break." Most of the second floor is devoted to a master suite that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Again, the geometry of the house is reflected in the furnishings - this time in the spectacualar leather-covered Italian bed in the master bedroom. The skylight in the luxurious master bath is covered with shiny silver vertical blinds that turn the natural light into interesting light-and-shadow patterns on the walls. The far end of the study opens into a two-story well above the living room and its curving real-life seascape. Both guest bedrooms on the upper levels have decks, with a Greek Flokati rug transformed into a handsome spread in the guest room. The spacious easy-care kitchen is conveniently placed off the dining room and has long slit windows to give view to the water below and to the land side.

Spectacular Modern House

House and Garden Magazine

Every inch of this spectacular, modern house is designed for living and playing...

Article ImageTake the ultimate: a hill on the edge of a wildlife preserve, a front yard that stretches out to meet the Long Island Sound. It's a setting to challenge any architect.

Here, Myron Goldfinger has designed a house that's dazzling in its own right - but is also right at home in the landscape. His subtle use of geometric forms blends the house into the hillside -and cedar siding gives it a natural softness. In the front, a pool links it visually to the sea. A dramatic two-story wall of windows opens the interior to the spectacular views, a more-than-adequate compensation for the rear, underground wall. Being close to nature was important for the owners, an active sports-minded family with three grown children.
Architect Goldfinger worked around their needs and even incorporated a tennis court into the house's design. (Since the land slopes around the house, all three levels have ground entrances.) The childrens' rooms were placed on the lower pool level so that in their absence the house never seems empty. And on the second, main floor, two sculptural decks extend the living space.

Trio of Towers

House and Garden Magazine

Pitched roofs help catch light and provide privacy for every room and deck in this trio of towers...

Article CoverA vacation house on the dunes should be so intriguing, believes architect Myron Goldfinger, that even on non-sunny days people will enjoy being there. His design for this towering house facing the beach has many exciting spaces, and largely responsible for them are the dramatic shed roofs. From the deck side that looks toward the ocean, the roofs slope up and away, creating great vertical areas. Diverse interior spaces interact to provide visual interest and a unique environment for an active family. The height endows the house with lofty living room and bedrooms. Far-up windows serve interior balconied retreats for parents and children.
The soaring roofs are part of a modular system; so are the decks with their end walls continuing the pitch established by the roofs. This simplified geometry leads to order and rhythm in the design and also helps cut costs (repeating a few elements is less trouble for a contractor than creating many different ones). The cedar house, private on three sides, is light-catching and open to seascapes. From trios of wide windows, sliding glass doors and decks that thrust like prows, all major rooms have views of the beach and ocean.

Article ImageUnder the shed roofs, the interflowing levels are seen at once as one huge pattern. Against the living room's white interior all things - plants, art, furniture -become strong design objects. "The white envelope creates excitement even on gray days," notes Goldfinger. The soaring living room, which connects the two main towers, has a high bridge between the children's bedrooms and the parents' suite. Spiral stairs made of wood and metal are at each end. The dining room is an intimate low-ceilinged space under one bedroom. Jutting seaward from the living room is a deck where a group can enjoy drinks along with the view. The house has four decks, each one's size carefully related to its special use. For large gatherings and barbecues, the raised entrance deck consists of two modules facing ech other with stairs thrust between them. At one end of this deck, well apart in the third tower, is a studio. The deck's pitched side walls add to the sense of isolation. The house, set on a two-acre site yet close to neighbors, has solid walls on two sides for privacy, plus solid walls with high and decidedly snoop-proof windows facing the road. These bring sky panoramas to the indoors.

Article ImageIn the parents' isolated suite, storage fits neatly in front of the bath and beneath the balconied retreat. Children's side-by-side rooms have sliding glass doors to a double-size play deck that faces the water. Under the highest part of the pitched ceiling in the master bedroom is the small, well-lighted retreat reached only by ladders. Vertical blinds screen all major glass areas.

Chappaquidick Island Vacation House

House and Garden Magazine

In a three-story house on Martha's Vineyard designed with decks and glasswalls, the inhabitants enjoy three magnificent and completely different views of an adjoining wildlife preserve...

On the top floor of the three-story house on Martha's Vineyard, the master bedroom has the best of everything: views and natural light, summer and winter.

Because the topmost level of the house rises well above the trees, the master bedroom and its long, narrow deck have a spectacular view to the sea. The owner says, "From the third floor we can see the roll of the land and the boats on the water." The bedroom with all its glass, has the advantages of camping out without the disadvantages. Owners see through the glass doors to the deck, and through the deck's pipe railings to the sea. A barrel-vaulted skylight, as large as one leg of the T-shaped bedroom (the sleeping area), offers a view of the blue sky by day, stars by night. Because the bed area, really a bridge, is open on two sides to the living room below, the second floor of the house profits from the sun coming through the skylight. Architect Goldfinger says, "The light is especially pleasant during the cold Martha's Vineyard winters."

Light floods the bedroom from a skylight, glass doors to the deck and glass walls flank the doors, and filters down to the living area through two large triangular openings.

Rising above a sea of treetops, this three-story house, cedar-clad in the tradition of older cottages on Martha's Vineyard was designed to make the most of the site and the view. Planned for vacation use all year long, it was built on the edge of a wildlife preserve. Architect Myron Goldfinger designed great expanses of glass and deck to look out over the preserve to the beach beyond. Some walls of the house, those that face neighbors, were kept solid. Mr. Goldfinger says, "The three levels of the house provide three experiences with the view. The most spectacular, and naturally the longest view is from the uppermost level, the master bedroom. On the second level a large deck floats among the treetops. On the ground floor you see into the pine forest and berry bushes." The top two floors are triangular in plan, with their longest sides almost all glass facing the view: other walls are solid. Because the ground floor, square in shape, has trees to give it privacy, most of its exterior walls are glass panels or doors.

The tower rising above the roof is the chimney for three fireplaces. Roof-high "stacks," as the architect calls them, terminate other two points of the triangle and house the more functional spaces. Stairs occupy one; the kitchen and two baths the other.

Millennium House

Interiors Magazine

Article ManagerA New Jersey party palace that fell to ruins has lovingly been restored to its late '70's grandeur by Myron Goldfinger...

Location, location, location. Although it may seem merely a supporting player, the mise-en-scene of any fashion layout or music video is what conveys the most about time and place. And at the moment, nothing says "21st-century" more to those who sell image than the Millennium House, a futuristic composition of geometric volumes in suburban New Jersey that, as it happens, is more than 20 years old.

New York architect Myron Goldfinger designed the sleek 10,000 square foot home in 1978 for a bucolic site in Montague, New Jersey, some 70 miles west of Manhattan. The $ 2.5 million castle-like structure is the focal point of a 60-acre parcel that also includes a swimming pool, lake, tennis courts, and stables. And as commissions go, "This one was ideal," recalls Goldfinger, "because they gave me incredible freedom. They were really very daring. Even though they had seen a number of my buildings, this was to be by far the largest and grandest to date." Apparently, the couples only requirement was that there be ample room for their lavish parties - invitations were usually extended to hundreds - and enough private areas to accommodate their three young children, comfortably and quietly, during the hoopla.

Goldfinger composed an intriguing fugue of squares and circles, built into the sloping hillside. Four rectilinear, horizontal levels slice through three circular towers to create a sequence of spaces that seem to expand and contract as you move through them. The architect didn't just repeat his elemental shapes willy-nilly (square here, circle there), but, given the sheer size of the house, managed to corral them into a coherent arrangement. The unmistakable anchor to the volumes - 24 different rooms in all - is the soaring staircase, which snakes its way up from levels one to four in the 35-foot high foyer. (For the easily winded, there's also an elevator). Numerous windows, skylights, and glass walls create another layer of interest, allowing for what Goldfinger describes as "an interplay of light and shadow throughout the day." All exteriors were clad in vertical red cedar planks; inside, every wall was painted stark white.

"At once innocent and sophisticated," wrote Carol Vogel in the April 1980 issue of Architectural Digest," (the house) projects a sense of swirling movement, the shifting and reshifting of repeated elements in a sea of space." Almost needless to say, the clients were over the moon. Goldfinger had given Mom and Dad acres in which to entertain.

And on the entire third floor, he carved out an elaborate master bedroom and bath, accessible by a gracious open-air bridge. The children, meanwhile, could stake claim to the fourth floor, which was equipped with four bedrooms and a playroom.

Goldfinger would go on to shift and reshift his geometries in many more structures - including a handful of houses in the Hamptons and Covecastles, a tony beach resort in Anguilla - and continues to earn kudos from design magazines all over the world. But he still considers the Montague house among his best works.

The chunky four story staircase serves as anchor to architect Myron Goldfinger's collage of diverse spaces. Outside as well as in, Goldfinger's hillside castle looks different from every angle. The dramatic bridge to the master bedroom has become a bridge to the 21st century. A six foot square fireplace and elevated bridge define the living room. Circular contours, such as the skylight in the master bedroom, are everywhere.

The daring clients, however, weren't so fortunate. The gravy train came to a crashing halt in the mid-1980's. Various stories circulate about them (gossipy tales peppered with words like "fraud" and "penitentiary"), but what exactly happened remains unclear. All that's known for sure is that their glorious house on the hill was left vacant for quite some time and fell into unthinkable disrepair.

Windows and skylights ended up broken, the roof leaked, and toilets and sinks were caked over with lime. The grass grew to five feet and the pool water became a viscous black goo. At last, two years ago, Virgil Rogers of Art & Industrial Design, a New York gallery specializing in 20th-century furnishings and art, stepped into the picture. Thinking the property would make one honey of a location spot, he bought the dilapidated structure on the gallery's behalf. Renovation efforts were encyclopedic; before Rogers was through, the house's entire infrastructure - walls, roof, lighting, plumbing, electrical system - had been replaced.

Rogers then dubbed Goldfinger's masterpiece the Millennium House and began promoting it as the "in" place for photo, film, and video shoots. French Vogue and Harpers Bazaar were among the first to use the modern backdrop; MTV, Arista Records, Neiman Marcus, and Pradia have also ponied up the $ 8,000 a-day fee to stage shoots there. Interestingly, most of the furnishings are original. Goldfinger had some pieces made especially for the house, like a purple built-in sofa that could sleep a dozen folks end to end. And he selected many others together with the original owners, like the famous 1970 Joe chair by DePas, D'urbino, and Lomazzi - essentially, a giant leather baseball mitt. Rogers also ships in from the gallery (for a rental fee) whatever artworks and furniture pieces have caught an art director or production designer's fancy there, and will even arrange catering for hungry crews.

So what does Goldfinger think of the current parade of models and rock stars traipsing through one of his favorite projects? He's pleased the work is so versatile. "I'm glad these people have taken the time to restore the house," he says. "It's an exciting series of spaces, spaces that can easily adapt to other uses. The elevator makes it an even more flexible building." Sure, plenty a party-goer in the early '80's got to experience its "sense of swirling movement," but this way, he figures, even more people will have the opportunity. "I always thought that maybe it could be turned into a country club," the architect muses, "or even a museum - which it now is, because it's being used to display things."

Frame the View

House Beautiful Magazine

The view is all-important in this clean, harmonious space in one of New York's landmark buildings...

In order to maximize dazzling views of the city skyline and Central Park in this renovated Manhattan apartment, architect Myron Goldfinger stepped up the floor along a 50-foot expanse of window to create a platform or "boardwalk." "This raised view is best because it makes the park appear as a garden below." says Goldfinger, who renovated the apartment of Mr. and Mrs. George Teichner with carefully selected sculptured trees and plants. Framing the view along the interior edge of the platform is a series of thin walls or "fins" that relate to the size and shape of the windows.

The view is all-important in this clean, harmonious space in one of New York's landmark buildings. Whether the space is used for conversation, dining, bathing or sleeping, the design elements are constant. The sparkling mirrors, shiny white lacquer walls and ceilings and the vertical blinds contribute to an uncluttered look although there is still ample hidden storage. Other constants are the beige carpet that wraps the platformed levels, the brown leather of the furniture and green plants and view. Besides the hidden storage, which also houses an elaborate speaker system, the "fin' walls define the space without limiting it. By developing a rhythm, they vary the space and break up the length of the room while orienting it to the view.

Intimate cave-like spaces from the large open conversation areas along the park are shown. All is built-in save for an occasional leather ottoman or stainless steel table. Even when one's back is to the windows, mirrors reflect the view.

The essence of country living is captured in the master bedroom and bath. The bed is raised in line with the windows. The bath is a double-sized marble pool. Because of the mirrored wall, the bather is surrounded in a country landscape.

A Rugged Site

House Beautiful Magazine

Article ImageEach dawning offers new drama to this exciting house rimmed with rugged rocks on one side and a steep incline on the other...

This tall, wood-frame cedar house is "literally wedged into its site," says Architect Myron Goldfinger.

But, he adds, its vistas of a pine forest made this "the most exciting spot" in all of Gary and Laura Blau's four acres of land in New York's Westchester County.

Yet the views are far from the only interesting aspects. Distinguishing, too, is the abundance of spatial excitement and architectural drama in a house of modest size - 25 by 40 feet - but the architect's adroit manipulation of elements has brought in so grand a sense of space that the room seems much larger. By borrowing light, air and space to the top of the pitched roof lines, Goldfinger took maximium advantage of the 35 foot ceiling heights.

In fact, there is no vertical interruption from the living room on up to the master bedroom and its adjoining sitting room just below. The living room visually borrows horizontal space, too, with the adjoining dining room and a small-scaled sitting alcove offering a flow-through view to the woodland site.

A Home Where Nature Plays a Role

House Beautiful Magazine

Article Cover Photo

Inside and out, this home is stamped with the owners imprint of their contemporary preferences and personalities...

The plot has a storybook ring to it: Young executive and his British bride fall in love with dingy but charming carriage house/former stable-cum garage on grounds of a Westchester, N.Y., estate. They buy it - and then the problems begin, for the romantic old structure is almost unlivable. In this tale, the couple turned to Architect Myron Goldfinger. His solution: to preserve that worth saving - such as the wooden hand-operated elevator, which becomes an element of sculpture - and then to give them an airy, superscaled space for living and entertaining.

Photo from ArticleThe original building had been divided into three parts. Two of these, the chauffeur's quarters and the old stable area, were cleaned up and made into extra bedrooms, a study and a gallery. The bulk of the work was in the 40 by 60 foot central garage. Within this strong formalistic core, Goldfinger created an informal living space around a central built-in seating-storage system, its size determined by the opening to the master bedroom above and the new glazed openings. "I wanted the experience to be that of an outdoor room: lush with greenery, illuminated by natural light, with the old concrete floor covered with grey tile," says the architect, whose clients have become eager spectators to the changing seasons from their "outdoor" room.

Without disturbing the strength, dignity and traditional spirit of the original building mass, Goldfinger has transformed the turn-of-the-century structure into a truly contemporary space, aided in the interiors by his wife, June. Except for the dining table and chairs and the large hand-woven pillows surrounding the white rug in front of the fireplace, the furniture is all built in. Storage space is provided along the rear side of the sunken seating unit, with their fittings for electronic equipment, liquor, etc.

The linear kitchen is discreetly set off from the main space by broad butcher block counters used for serving buffets. A mirrored wall helps to complete the glamorizing of what is basically a washer/dryer niche. Following the basic symmetry of the house, Goldfinger has pierced the horizontal space with two cylindrical drums, which, like the central light well, provide vertical contrast. The two drums, (one is a coat closet and the other a stair to the master suite) also frame the old wooden sliding doors that lead to the former stable, which has been made into a gallery. Though many old features yet remain, the interior now seems totally contemporary.

Perched high above the carriage house is a 24-nest dovecote that is still accessible from the loft. Doves no longer reside there, of course, nor is the loft any longer the repository for hay, grain and old automobile equipment (the manual elevator was used to carry such objects up and down). Instead, Goldfinger has converted this area into a master bedroom/dressing room suite and a conservatory filled with light and an abundance of leafy plants, many of which the owners purchased in Florida. Equipped with a telescope, it's also a marvelous place for following the stars on clear nights.

Goldfinger restored the original pine floor on this level and preserved the massive beams and truss tension rods, important structural elements of the house. Around the central opening, handrails were welded to the tension rods for safety and Plexiglas panels will someday be added to protect small children.

Their bath and sinks were centered within the upstairs space to take advantage of the higher ceiling heights, while closets and the bed were placed along the lower sides. Since most of the walls are thick concrete block, opening up the house to provide a maximum of natural illumination and give a feeling of the landscape around them was a problem - doubly so since Goldfinger did not want to lose the house's feeling of solidarity. Whenever possible, he utilized existing openings for garage doors, etc. Glass was placed on all the dormers and a skylight pierces the slate roof. The original paned windows remain across the front, facing a common green shared by other structures of the estate complex, but three sets of sliding doors at the rear bring in light and a view of the private garden at back. Dual decks visually float on the lawn under the tall trees. One of these decks, which adjoins the kitchen and dining area, is an ideal spot for outdoor dining. The other is a comfortable spot for just relaxing and enjoying the surrounding greenery.

A Break with Tradition

House Beautiful Magazine

 Article cover photoSparkling white and elegantly refurbished, this pristine yet luxuriously comfortable Manhattan co-op has completely shed all traces of its shabby past...

Typical of apartments built around the time of the Depression, it was little more than a railroad flat - a string of dark rooms with tiny windows that ignored its views of Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When a European Investment banker and his wife brought Myron Goldfinger to see it, the New York architect was immediately aware of what could be done in the deteriorated space.
It was agreed from the outset that this, the couple's New York pied-a-terre, would be super modern, completely different from their more traditional homes abroad. The architect began by designing some dramatic furniture forms, including the large semicircular seating unit shown here and the triangular seat beneath the Chagall painting. These more cohesive shapes visually expand space better than an arrangement of different chairs and sofas.

Mirrors are one of the chief devices Goldfinger employed to bring an abundance of light into this formerly dark, dingy apartment - large mirrors covering the expanse of an entire wall, as in the living room, and mirrors sized to define a particular area, as on the wall over the banquette in the dining room. Changing the windows to large, clear panes of glass also helped to bring more light into the apartment, but the architect was limited here by building regulations that forced him to fit the new windows into existing masonry openings. By using the glittering mirrors, he was able to multiply the effect of that light and also visually to increase the proportions of the long, narrow, rather modestly sized rooms.

Goldfinger, who was aided by his wife, June, on the interior details, felt that the mirrors also would underline the sleek sophistication of this cohesive white space with charcoal gray tile floors. All the old beams, moldings and radiators have been completely concealed in the new structure and then painted white so that nothing jars the eye and the effect is totally homogeneous. The sweeping curve in the living room, for example, was a series of three uneven columns before the architect redesigned it. The movable Formica-clad curved seating units give a counterthrust to this curved wall and the small triangular seat adds a further counterpoint. Sculptural variation is provided primarily by the tall plants, all from Plant Specialists. The fabrics covering the pillows and cushions and dining chairs are in deep jewel shades, from amethyst to ruby, richly contrasting with the fur rugs from Seymour Winik Inc.

Anguilla: Goldfinger's Way

Conde Nast Traveler Magazine

When it comes to beaches, the world's best landscape designer is Nature, Inc...


Good taste isn't at a premium, it's de rigueur on Anguilla, a flat Caribbean coral island where exquisite appointments, audacious architecture, and splendid beaches have been combined to produce several exceptional resorts. Covecastles, an unabashedly modern complex, is the smallest of the deluxe group and offers the most privacy. Only four freestanding villas and eight contiguous duplexes rise, startlingly white and funnel-shaped, from the isolated curve of sand that rims West Shoal Bay. And while the exterior design is controversial, there is little dispute about the interiors: The sculptural confines of the light-struck, two-bedroom beach houses are extremely appealing and especially appropriate for sharing with compatible couples or with family.

Clearly, the trulli of Italy and the perched white villages of Greece and Spain influenced Myron Goldfinger, Covecastle's creator-architect. To underscore that point, "Villages in the Sun," Goldfinger's study of Mediterranean community architecture, is a fixture on every coffee table. These dog-eared books are the only imperfect objects with the duplexes' hautely rustic confines, all of which have been decorated by June Goldfinger, Myron's wife. Mammoth raw silk cushions on outsize rattan sofas form a pillowy purchase from which to take in the view of St. Martin, five miles away.

The beach houses sleep four in great comfort. The kitchen is stocked with Krups, Braun, and Cuisinart appliances to please the most discriminating cook, and the maid on duty between 9 A.M. and 4 P.M. will help clean up. Arrange to buy lobsters from the fishermen, whose sturdy multicolored yellow, blue and red boats adorn the sand. And when cooking pales, there are rewarding eating places close by.

Restaurants and beaches are the forte of Anguilla's West End. The service is seamless at Malliouhana Hotel's shaded terrace restaurant, a Jo Rostang production high above the rumpled sands at Mead's Bay. The particularly wide and enticing beach at Maunday's Bay, overlooks Cap Juluca's effervescent Pimm's Restaurant.

A Little House That May Grow

House Beautiful Magazine

The wisdom of planning ahead is beautifully illustrated in this country house Architect Myron Goldfinger designed to be built in two stages...

Article CoverThough their growing family now needs a vacation house only for the weekends, John and Carlyn McCaffrey wanted a house that also would have built-in expansion possibilities. The plan shows how Goldfinger planned for such additions - giving the McCaffreys insurance that when the time comes to enlarge the house, nothing will be left to chance - until they have the ultimate structure envisioned in the model. For a cost of under 30,000, Goldfinger gave them for their current needs 1,200 square feet of living space built out of top-quality cedar, plus a 200 square foot deck. A wall of sliding glass doors offers a view of nearby Lake Katanah, with the wings on the deck guaranteeing privacy from other houses. Goldfinger's wife June, who was responsible for the interiors, created a comfortable living space rich with the warmth of natural materials, deeply textured hand-woven woolen pillows with a Greek flokati rug, terra-cotta tile floor and woven willow chairs and sofa.

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The spiral staircase at the core of the McCaffrey house will be echoed in the new second wing when it is built. Such continuity of design will extend throughout much of the new modular wing, which will itself be the same shape as the exisitng wing. But use of the space will naturally be changed when the house is expanded. For example, all the children now sleep in the large loft with its colorful furniture and tile floor. Eventually, both levels in this wing will be entirely converted to the children's use. And the loft will then be partitioned into separate children's bedrooms, as will part of the downstairs, and the rest will be opened up as a giant playroom. The new wing will be entirely for the adults.

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The loft will be a combination master bedroom/study and the lower space will house the living-dining areas, plus a large new kitchen. The McCaffreys say that when this new wing is plugged into the existing wing, their vacation house just might become their permanent residence.

Duplex Design

House Beautiful Magazine

This duplex design explodes with soaring interior space...

Across the country, members of the mobile generation are moving into or near ghetto areas because of the once-beautiful townhouses available there at prices within the reach of young budgets. Rick Haynes recently made that move, but for a different reason. For him, it was a move back to the ghetto in which he had grown up. When he bought his five-story townhouse, he assumed that he would live on a floor and rent the rest. But he quickly saw the wisdom of architect Myron Goldfinger's plan to turn the back half of the first two floors into a duplex for the owner, leaving the front half of the same two floors for rental, plus the top three. It involved the same ratio of living and rental areas, but it permitted much more exciting spaces within which to live. With two floors available, the architect could break through the large back room to make a two-story-high dining room with bridges connecting bedroom, study and bath on the floor above.
Having spent five years in North Africa, where Rick admired the soaring interior spaces of houses in that area, he wanted to duplicate them in his home here. A spiral staircase at one end of the dining room leads to the second-level bridge, making the duplex a self-contained apartment within the larger house. Off the two-story dining area, a living room that is large in actual square footage takes on an intimate quality from the fact that it is only one-story high. Interior details were all kept to take maximum benefit of the original structure.

A central fireplace, simple moldings on the ceiling, and symmetrical furniture arrangement all add to the formal scale of the one-story-high living room. Skins on the floor, African art and fabrics covering the pillows were gathered by Rick when he was living and working in Africa. New spots in the ceiling light the living room which has only one window.

Ein Dialog Der Forman

German Magazine

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Myron Goldfinger has been critically acclaimed in architectural journals and received awards for design excellence...

Platforms Raised to New Heights

House Beautiful Magazine

Architect Myron Goldfinger redeemed dazzling views of the New York City skyline with an ingenious system of platforms...

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Imagine living in an apartment with dazzling views of the New York City skyline and Central Park but not being able to see them. That was Mr. and Mrs. George Teichner's dilemma - the windows in their Manhattan co-op were too high to see out of. Architect Myron Goldfinger redeemed the views with an ingenious system of platforms that bring all the rooms up to window level, creating a gallery overlooking the city landscape. The platforms also provide a lively, stepped topography that gives the once-boxlike interior some visual excitement. In the main activity area, Goldfinger had the wall between living and dining rooms torn down. The resulting space is fitted with platforms along the 50' expanse of windows.

The main conversation area and dining space are situated on the platforms. Intimate work and reading areas are tucked along the lower-level inner perimeter, where views are visible in mirrored walls. To unify the disparate areas of the main space, carpet covers all levels; surfaces, whether they be walls or built-ins, are painted glossy white. Open yet intimate, the dining area, looks directly down on the park, which appears as a garden below. The free standing walls along the interior edge of the platform provide definition without obstructing the flow of light and space, as well as giving a vertical contrast to the horizontal platforms.

Sotheby's

Brochure of Covecastles

Romantic, unspoiled and inspiring, Anguilla is like no other island in the British West Indies...

CovecastlesSurrounded by a ring of coral reefs, the crystal clear water is perfection for scuba divers and snorkelers, as fishermen watch snapper and yellow-tail swim gracefully among their lines. Anguilla's terrain of undulating plains and hypnotically flowing waves of savannah grass make this island a treasured jewel in the Caribbean chain.

Maintaining a level of excellence, Covecastles combines a dramatic blend of geometry, art and sculpture in eight masterfully designed beach houses. Neighboring villas on the island by the same renowned architect, Myron Goldfinger, were featured in the Spring 1987 issue of Architectural Digest Travels. Mr. Goldfinger's philosophy of offering an environmnent whereby privacy, creativity and comfort prevail is truly expressed in his creation of Covecastles. Molded half-cylindrical shapes and strong verticals make a climactic yet harmonious statement.

The uninterrupted movement of cascading space terminates at water's edge, eminating from the elevated dining room and fully equipped kitchen, through the living room's sliding glass doors and across the broad tiled veranda to the beach. Central to the expansive scheme of proportion is the sweeping curvilinear staircase ascending to the second level bedrooms, with 20' arched ceilings and captivating view which opens to the verdant mountainscape of neighboring St. Martin. Covecastles' resident manager and trained staff wait to greet you at this most exclusive beach resort.

Custom House Winner

House & Home Magazine

Another award winning custom house by Myron Goldfinger...
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Six Award of Merit winners in the custom-house category of the 1974 Homes for Better Living awards program are featured here. They were selected by a five-judge panel on the basis of three criteria: 

  1. how successfully the architects had met their clients' requirements,
  2. how well the homes relate to their sites; 
  3. how well the floor plans work.

The 19th annual HFBL program drew 245 custom-home entries.

Winners were chosen in a two-day session at the headquarters of the American Institute of Architects, which sponsors the program in cooperation with House & Home and American Home magazines.

Award of Merit

House & Home Magazine

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Myron Goldfinger received a coveted national Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects...

Great Ideas from Apartment Living

House and Garden Magazine

Article ImagePractical, beautiful decorating ideas help make your house or apartment live better, look terrific...

What appears here to be an infinite, airy, plant-filled space is actually a 4-by-8 foot diagonal passageway created between a dark entrance and a tile-staged plant conservatory. The illusion of space was achieved with mirror, floor-to-ceiling along both sides of the passage, whose walls were reangled to bounce light and view to the apartment center. Designed by Myron Goldfinger.