Shelter Island, New York

When William Pedersen, FAIA, cofounder and principal design partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox, bought a 3-acre piece of waterfront land on Shelter Island, New York, in 1981, “Things were a little different on the island,” he wryly recalls. In the intervening years, the island has grown more expensive to live on and crowded with visitors during the summer, but Pedersen has created a residence that, nested in the earth and angled to create uninterrupted views of Long Island Sound, is protected from those changes.

Little Ram Island House
Photo ' Michael Moran Photography,

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It took Pedersen two decades to develop his design for some very demanding clients: The architect himself and his family. As demonstrated by a shelf of miniature models that Pedersen keeps along with his sailing trophies (more about this later), he considered myriad options and worked on some 30 different iterations before determining the final one. “This project formed my weekend entertainment for almost 20 years. Now we have a wonderful new dog, a boxer, to keep me occupied,” Pedersen jokes. For two years, Pedersen considered a spiral-shaped house with a south-facing interior garden—an orientation that would have shielded the house from the northeast winds and let it bask in the southern sun, but neglected the stunning view of the sound’s open waters to the north.

The dwelling, as it stands now, not only capitalizes on that vista, but also preserves two neighboring houses’ views. Pedersen was particularly concerned that he not mar one of the other houses’ axis to a lighthouse across the sound—after all, Pedersen built that residence, the Bedell Mills House, in 1991. Thus his own home’s slim, angular shape is a thoughtful example of how to build without impeding upon the landscape. Its low-slung form defers to the island’s natural slope, seeming to rise up where the earth is depressed and taper off where it comes up. This design also affords low heat gain during summer and better solar penetration from the low winter sun, making the house energy-efficient year-round. Large exposures on the building’s northern side admit daylight and natural ventilation, so air-conditioning is rarely used.

But back to those sailing trophies. Another major influence on the design of the house was the local nautical culture and Pedersen’s passion for sailing (he moors his boat in Coecles Harbor, just south of the property). In section, the 4,500-square-foot residence resembles a very large yacht with a stone fireplace rising like a boat’s mast. This romantic gesture is echoed in the surrounding landscaping: Native species grow on the lawn and undulate in the wind-drawn waves. The course of the driveway winding up to the house forces a car to tack in from the road like a boat would across the water.


William Pedersen FAIA 
111 W. 57th Street 
New York, NY 10019 
Tel:  212 977 6500 
Fax: 212 956 2526

Andrew J. Klare Associate AIA 
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC


Robert Murray PE
Greg C. Masone PE
Murray Engineering, PC
307 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1001
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.741.1102
Fax: 212.741.1104


Lighting: Jerry Kugler

Acoustical: Bonnie Schnitta PHD

Other: Building Enclosure: Darren J. Casale, AIA


General contractor: 
Ken Wright
Job Captain: Tom Stewart
Wright and Company Construction
Bridgehampton, NY 11932
Tel: 631 537 2555
Fax: 631 537 7061


Michael Moran Photography, Inc
10 West 18th Street
7th Floor 
New York, New York 10011
Tel:(212) 334-4543
Fax:(212) 334-3854

William Pedersen FAIA, FAAR 
111 W. 57th Street 
New York, NY 10019 
Tel:  212 977 6500 
Fax: 212 956 2526


Andrew J Klare Associate AIA
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC 
111 W. 57th Street 
New York, NY 10019 
Tel:  212 977 6500 
Fax: 212 956 2526


CAD system, project management, or other software used:
3D Studio Max


Structural system: 
Reinforced Concrete
Structural Steel
Wood Frame

Exterior cladding:
Masonry: Bluestone

Metal/glass curtainwall: 
Standing Seam Copper

Sandblasted Exposed Concrete


Built-up roofing: 
Sarnafil System (under 2nd floor deck)


Copper Roof Shingles

Ipe-Mohogany Windows

Reilly Wood Works
4062-701 Grumman Blvd.
Calverton, Long Island NY 11933
Tel:631 208 0710
Fax:631 208 0711

Ipe-Mohogany Doors

Reilly Wood Works
4062-701 Grumman Blvd.
Calverton, Long Island NY 11933
Tel:631 208 0710
Fax:631 208 0711

1 Bishop Lane
Madison, CT 06443
Tel:203 404 4700
Fax:203 404 4710

Cabinet hardware: 
3901 Cheyenne Drive 
Archdale, NC 27263 
Tel : 1.336.434.2322 
Fax: 1.800.325.6197

Blum Inc.
7733 Old Plank Rd. 
Stanley NC 28164 
Tel.: +1 704 827-1345
Fax.: +1 704 827-0799

Interior finishes:
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Custom Douglas Fir Cabinets:

Molina Millwork
34 South West St.
Mt. Vernon, NY 10550
Tel: 914 668 5855
Fax: 914 668 8379

Floor and wall tile: 
Heath Ceramics
400 Gate Five Road
Sausalito, CA 94965
Tel:415 332 3732
Fax:415 332 3204

Resilient flooring: 
Cumaru Flooring (main living areas and Bedrooms)

Bluestone Flooring (corridors and Bathrooms)

Custom Carpets

Kia Andrea Pedersen
Tel: 646 287 9513

AP Designs Ltd
3470 Steven Road
Baldwin, NY 11510
Tel: 516 459 7838

Fixed seating:
Molina Millwork
34 South West St.
Mt. Vernon, NY 10550
Tel: 914 668 5855
Fax: 914 668 8379

Hans Wegner    
Ox Chair
Shell Chair

Norman Cherner- Cherner Chair

Paulo Mendes da Rocha- Paulistano Chair

Charles and Ray Eames - Eames Walnut Stools  

Custom Dining Table and Coffee Table:

William Pedersen FAIA
Stan Carroll AIA
Beyond Metal
3109 NW 22nd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
Tel: 405 272 3001
Fax: 405 272 3072

Interior ambient lighting:
Bartco Lighting, Inc
5761 Research Drive
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Tel 714.230.3200
Fax 714.230.3222

Lucifer Lighting Company
3750 IH35 North
San Antonio, TX 78219
Tel: 800 879 9797
Fax: 210 227 4967

Task lighting:
Mix Task Lamp
Tizio Desk Lamp

1000 Bega Way 
Carpinteria , CA 93013 

7200 Suter Rd
Coopersburg, PA 18036 
Tel: 610 282 3800

Lefroy Brooks
16 Crosby Street
NY, NY 10013
Tel: 212 226 2242

Purist Hatbox Toilet
444 Highland Drive
Kohler, WI 53044
Tel: 800 456 4537

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
TriPyramid Structures, Inc.
59 Power Road
Westford, MA 01886
Tel: 978 692 0555
Fax: 978 692 0666

Commissioned Art: (Living Room Wall Piece)

Kia Andrea Pedersen
Tel: 646 287 9513