Adirondack Mountains, New York

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.

Visitors arrive first at a 4,800-square-foot gatehouse garage removed from the compound, where they swap vehicles for electric golf carts. Then they proceed along descending paths that lead to two 1,600-square-foot, one-bedroom guest houses—complete with small kitchens and composed of stacked and rotated boxlike volumes.

Heading on toward the lake, visitors catch glimpses of angular main buildings that appear and disappear in the topography of the sloping site. Foundations and floor slabs and walls are concrete with requisite waterproofing and underground drainage. By placing so much living and recreational space underground, the architect reduced energy loads with passive geothermal heating and cooling. Rainwater is retained via the green roof areas.

In the recreational building, dappled light from wood-screened windows and a skylight illuminate the lap pool. The family house with its master suite is more private, but it connects to nature with, for example, sleeping porches. “The entire project can be understood only by experiencing it sequentially,” Gluck says.


Owner: Withheld by client request

Completion Date: May 2010

Gross square footage: Withheld by client request

Total construction cost: Withheld

Peter Gluck and Partners
423 West 127th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10027
Tel 212-690-4950 
Fax 212-690-4961

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Kees Brinkman
Holly Chacon
Kathy Chang
Steven Chen
Christopher Farnum
Peter L. Gluck
Charles Greenwald
Bethia Liu
Adam Manrique
Joseph Morin
Eric Schaefer

Interior designer: Holmes Newman and Partners

Geotechnical Engineer: Dente Engineering

Civil Engineer: Jarrett-Martin Engineers

Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates P.C.

MEP Engineer: IBC Engineering Services, Inc.

Lighting: Lux Populi

Acoustical: Paul Scarbrough

Audio/Visual: HEDsouth 

Construction Manager: ARCS Construction Services, Inc.

Paul Warchol

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
AutoCAD, Microsoft Project, Adobe Creative Suite, Rhinoceros



Structural system
Steel and Concrete

Exterior cladding
Wood: Cambia wood rainscreen 

Built-up roofing: 
Hydrotech green roof system

Sliding screens:  
Custom Cambia wood louvers 

Metal frame and support fabrication:
Reo Welding

Custom Mahogany Exterior doors:  
Residence Artists, Inc.,

Sliding Glass Door Hardware:
Siegenia Lift and Slide Hardware

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Mack Custom Woodworking
Larry Hayden Cabinetmaker
Residence Artists, Inc.

Special surfacing:
Plaster walls and ceiling (includes
shower and pool walls):
Art in Construction Ltd

Floor and wall stone tile:
(Locally quarried honed and flamed bluestone on floors throughout the Main House lower floor and Gathering Pavilion)
Tompkins Bluestone

Pool glass tile and sauna stone tile installation: VSI

Fireplace soapstone slabs and fabrication:
M Teixeira Soapstone and D’Alessio Tile & Marble

Main House Stair fabrication: Residence Artists, Inc.

Main House Stair Treads:
Armster Reclaimed Lumber

Main House Stair Tension Rods:
TriPyramid Structures, Inc.

Boathouse Dock Ipe Deck & Steel Fabrication:
The Dock Doctors, LLC