In designing a weekend house for a couple from Manhattan, Ryall Sheridan Architects in New York first helped locate its site on the North Fork of Long Island. Bill Ryall, firm principal, who has built up a substantive portfolio of quietly modern residences in the area, found a 5.5-acre plot in Orient, a quaint rural village of 700 people. The flat property ends on a high bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound. Here, at its northern edge, Ryall placed the T-shaped, 5,660-square-foot wood structure and elevated its living spaces, piano nobile fashion, to take advantage of the dramatic view.

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You do not see the water as you approach; a winding drive leads from the road to the carport tucked under the cedar-clad, wood frame building. To enter the house, you ascend a stair leading up to the main floor. There—kaboom—as you walk into an open dining room, you gasp at the sight of the shining water and unimpeded view of the horizon.

All the public rooms on this level, 12 feet above grade, face the water: the living room and office open out to a deck, while the dining area and screened porch, contained in a separate structure on the west end, sit on concrete piers. A wing at a 90-degree angle to this bar-shaped volume accommodates a bedroom and south-facing master bedroom suite, while the ground floor has a sauna and two more bedrooms for the couple’s family.

The owners wanted a pool, but removed it to the southern part of the site “so the children can throw parties without disturbing the parents,” says Ryall. He also designed the low-maintenance landscaping, adding maples, bayberry, hornbeam, wild cherry, and a copper beech to the grassy meadow.

The all-electric, $700-per-square-foot house has a high-performance wall assembly and an energy-recovery ventilator, says Rodrigo Zamora, the project architect. Triple-pane windows and solar panels help make this elegantly crafted treehouse a net zero dwelling that produces all the energy it consumes.



Bill Ryall, FAIA CPHD, Ryall Sheridan Architects, 174 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 646-809-4343,


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

Project architect: Rodrigo Zamora, AIA CPHD

Project team: William Robinette, AIA CPHD, Marija Gjorgjievska, Assoc. AIA, CPHD


Interior designer:

Grace Rosenstein



Structural: Silman

Mechanical: Baukraft Engineering



Lighting: STAR Lighting Design


General contractor:

Manuele Contracting



Ty Cole


Structural System

Glulam Beams: Unalam


Exterior Cladding

Other cladding unique to this project:

Interior air barrier: Pro Clima Intello Plus

Weather resistive barrier: Pro Clima Solitex Mento Plus



Membrane roofing: Firestone



Wood frame: Tanner Windows and Doors



Skylights: Lamilux



Door Hardware: FSB, Modric


Interior Finishes

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: ROBERT RUSSELL DESIGN

Wood floor: M A D E R A



Interior: Tech Lighting, Flos, BEGA Lighting

Exterior: Bega Lighting



Bathroom Fixtures: Duravit

Bathroom faucets & fittings: Dornbracht



Photovoltaic system: LG Solar

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: Zehnder: Energy Recovery Ventilator, Mitsubishi: Heat Pumps, Sanden: Heat Pump Water Heater