Architects Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss, partners at New York firm Weiss/Manfredi, have long been merging landscape and structure in their work, including the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle (2007) and the visitor center at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (2012). In these projects, the architecture becomes part of the site and the site part of the architecture, so that it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

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Now they have explored this theme in their first ground-up residential project, a rustic but modern house in Tuxedo Park, New York, about 40 miles northwest of Manhattan. Established in the 1880s as a private hunting and fishing reserve, the village was a popular retreat for New York’s elite through the 1920s, with many stately houses designed by prominent late-19th- and early-20th-century architects, including Bruce Price, McKim, Mead & White, and John Russell Pope. Tuxedo Park (which gave the name to the gentleman’s formal attire) is also noted for its distinctive craggy landscape, with dense woods and winding roads.

For more than three decades, Joseph McCann, a PepsiCo executive, and his wife, Anne, a graphic artist and passionate gardener, spent their weekends in a Tuxedo Park carriage house, which Manfredi and Weiss renovated for them in the late 1980s. But the McCanns, now retired, wanted a house comfortable for more extended periods, with room for guests, and conveniences such as air-conditioning. So they bought the adjacent three-acre lot and again turned to Manfredi and Weiss.

The new site is steeply sloped, with two enormous rock outcroppings, and—when the trees drop their leaves—stunning views of Tuxedo Lake. There was already a house there—a dilapidated 1960s structure, which the architects describe as a “faux ski lodge” that seemed “dropped onto the site rather than of it.” Not surprisingly, the clients had something entirely different in mind that would be contemporary and “right next to nature,” explains Joe. 

The architects proposed replacing the existing house with a series of retaining walls made of local fieldstone. These ashlar walls would appear to march up the terrain, outlining a serpentine approach. They would also define the house’s lower two levels, which were to be built entirely within the footprint of the existing foundations, enclosing a guest bedroom and library, among other spaces. A steel-and-woodframed third level, mostly invisible from the road except for a clerestory and a portion of overhanging roof, would sit behind the house’s primary stone facade. This top floor—to contain the living room, dining area, kitchen, and the master bedroom—was to curve in sync with the contours of the giant boulders. It would include a long window wall facing east, overlooking a terraced garden.

Before construction could begin, the scheme needed the go-ahead from the local architectural review board. The process took more than a year, but Manfredi and Weiss finally convinced the board that, though their design did not hew to the favored Tudor, Georgian, or Shingle styles, it was in keeping with Tuxedo Park’s character.

As with the turn-of-the-century villas and cottages, their design took its cues from the surrounding landscape, its stone walls similar to those found along the village’s roads and on many of its historic houses. In addition to “metering the topography,” said the architects, the walls would help control water runoff from the steep slopes of the site.

In the finished house, this relationship with the terrain is most apparent on the top level, reached via a stair with a glass balustrade or by elevator. It reads as one long, curvilinear open space, sheltered under a seemingly floating king-post-truss-supported roof. The more private areas—the kitchen, bath, and master bedroom—are lined up, hidden behind an origami-like drywall partition that stops a few inches short of the bottom chord of the roof truss.

But the living and dining spaces flow into each other, with their polished concrete floors stepping up a few risers between them. This change in elevation matches that of the adjacent terraced garden, seen and easily accessed through sets of double glass doors integrated into the arced steel-framed eastern window wall. The more solid, west-facing exterior wall has a clerestory, which helps reinforce the impression that the roof is floating, and also contains small windows that offer framed vistas over the McCanns’ carriage-house property. These strategies, which put the focus on the outside, are so effective that when you are on the top floor, the rest of the almost 5,000- square-foot house all but disappears, making this level seem like a small pavilion in the landscape. 

The McCanns are helping to fuse the site and structure by building a narrow pathway into the slope behind the house that echoes the terraces of the garden below. They have also planted nearly 50 trees, including oaks and Eastern white pines, and are experimenting with shrubs and ground covers such as heather, thyme, and witch hazel. They want, says Joe, “something that looks natural but is also artful.” Those words could describe the house as well, which skillfully merges with the landscape to create what the architects like to call a “habitable topography.”

Back to Record Houses 2016




Architecture / Landscape / Urbanism

200 Hudson St 10th Floor

New York  Ny  10013

T 212 760 9002

F 212 760 9003



Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Marion Weiss, FAIA, Design Partner

Michael A. Manfredi, FAIA, Design Partner

Michael Blasberg, RA, Project Architect

Lee Lim, Project Architect

Hamilton Hadden, RA, Project Architect


Architect Consultant

Michael DeCandia Architects

130 West 29th Street, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10001

T: 914-232-8210 (Katonah)

F: 914-232-2633 (Katonah)

Michael DeCandia, Principal

John Cuniffe, Project Architect


Civil Engineer

Thomas W. Skrable, PE

65 Ramapo Valley Rd, suite 13

Mahwah, NJ 07430

T: 201-529-5010

F: 201-701-0312

M: 201-240-5390



Lighting Consultant

Brandston Partnership Inc.

302 Fifth Avenue, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10001

T: 212-924-4050

Chou Lien, Partner


Structural (Roof) Consultant

Weidlinger Associates Inc. Consulting Engineers

40 Wall Street, 19th Floor

New York, NY 10005-1304              

Phone: 212-367-3000

Tian-Fang Jing                                   



Structural Consultant

Cowley Engineering, P.C.

4093 Jockey Street

Charlton, NY 12019

T: 914-643-6242


General contractor

Longeri Construction Corp

14 Jacksonville Rd

Towaco, NJ 07082

T: 973-335-5141

F: 973-335-5142

M: 201-481-4005



Albert Večerka/Esto, Jeff Goldberg



Joseph and Anne McCann



4,800 square feet





Completion date:




Structural system

Roof: Composite Steel and Glulam Truss on Steel Columns

Wall: Concrete Bearing Exterior Wall

Floor: Concrete Slab on grade (basement), Wood Flooring on Engineered Wood Joists (1st Floor), Concrete Slab on Steel Deck (2nd floor)


Exterior cladding

Stonework Supplier

Fieldstone provided by:

Legacy Stoneworks, Inc

PO Box 832

Tuxedo Park, NY 10987

T: 845-351-2480

F: 845-351-2499


Metal-Frame Windows

Hope’s Windows

84 Hopkins Avenue

Jamestown, NY 14702

T: 716-665-5124



Locksets and Hinges: Schalge, Rixon, Rockwood

Pulls: Custom Pull by Veyko Design


Metal Fabricator

Perforated Bronze Screens and Exterior Gates by

Veyko Design

216 Falmouth Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19123

T: 215-928-1349





Interior lighting:

Lightolier Lighting

20 Englewood Ave

Staten Island, NY 10309

T: 718-608-2900



1000 Bega Way

Carpinteria, CA 93013

T: 805-684-0533



215 W Chicago Ave

Chicago, IL 60654

T: 312-944-1000


RAB Lighting

535 West 24th Street

York, NY  10011

T: 201-784-8600


Exterior lighting:

Stonco Lighting

2345 Vauxhall Rd

Union, NJ 07083

T: 908-964-7000




Handi-Lift, Inc

20 Englewood Ave

Staten Island, NY 10309

T: 201-933-0111



Kohler, Dornbracht, Elkay, Agape, Miele, Toto