It's Friday, and claass HAUS has another glass box to start your weekend.
Nestled within a wooded lot in the Town of Port Washington on Long Island, the William Landsberg House stands as a Bauhaus box, a simple and functional design in perfect balance with its natural setting. Designed by architect William Landsberg for his own family, the modest rectangular residence stands as one of the most intact examples of the architect's work. A machine for modern living, the well-designed modernist experiment with its planar geometry and ribbons of prominent windows celebrates the lush landscape of Long Island and remains one of the most significant examples of the area's postwar Modernism.
Part of Harvard’s first group of graduate students under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, William Landsberg (1915-2013) carved out a long and successful career working alongside notable architects like Gropius, Gordon Bunschaft, and Edward Durell Stone. But it was his professional relationship with Breuer that molded Landsberg’s simple and efficient aesthetic. For nearly a decade, Landsberg worked for the Hungarian Modernist as head draftsman and Director of Design and helped launch Breuer's New York City practice following his split from Gropius in 1941. Working on high-profile projects like the MoMA House in the Garden series, the Grosse Pointe Library, and the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Landsberg proved his competency in the universal language of Modernism. After internalizing much of Breuer's design philosophy, Landsberg set out to design a home reflective of his own architectural preferences.
Tucked into an irregular and sloped site, the Landsberg House appears to float within the densely wooded landscape. Constructed in 1951, the form, reminiscent of Breuer’s long-house concept, is divided into a concrete basement and a cantilevered main floor covered by a flat roof and sheathed in vertical cypress siding and horizontal cement panels. Custom large pane windows punctuate the flat façade, and a single window opening over the garage interrupts a blank stretch of vertical cladding (one of the architect’s signature details). On the interior, most of the basement floor is devoted to the garage, while a series of rooms (including a small studio) provide utilitarian space. Linked to the basement by a floating staircase (very Breueresque), the main floor consists of flexible living and dining areas, a central kitchen, and three bedrooms. Demonstrating Landsberg’s desire for functional groupings of space, the floor plan remains open and undivided with the dense wooded lot providing a sense of privacy and containment to the transparent plan. In 1962-63, the architect expanded the kitchen and living room in a small, but thoughtful addition.
Landsberg's two-story glass and cypress box with modest finishes but forward-thinking conveniences clearly represents the architect's modern philosophy. Influenced by his Modernist mentors, Landsberg combines Bauhaus principles with his own preference for transparency, simplicity, functionality, and natural materials. William Landsberg would go on to design more than a dozen modern residences in the area and lived in his own Long Island home for the duration of his life. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
See more images of the Landsberg House here and the recent renovations (the house was sold in 2015) here.
Image at top:
By Midmod2000 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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