Some minimalist architects boast that given enough money, they can make their architecture almost disappear. Although that claim seems to go against normal expectations about what so many architects really like to do, it often tempts those faced with a large program and a sensitive site.
Peter Gluck, for example, argues that creating an “experience” rather than building a visibly defined object should be an architect's supreme goal. With his recently completed Lakeside Retreat in New York's Adirondack Mountains, Gluck was able to prove his point—practically embedding in the earth 21,700 square feet of residential spaces for living and recreational uses. Conceptually and programmatically, the two buried buildings—a family house and a recreation building with an interior courtyard, amphitheater, gallery, and indoor pool—are essential pieces of a compound on a steeply sloped 21-acre site. The entire grouping, with two guest houses and abundant walking trails, and culminating in a 2,200-square-foot boathouse and dock, fulfills the same purpose as the nearby Adirondack great camps that cropped up in the mid- to late 19th century. The difference here in designing this family getaway, says Gluck, is that this project is done “without recreating the specific iconography of that period.” Indeed, other than the use of local materials, the buildings share no physical resemblance to their log-and-stone Swiss Chalet–style predecessors.