Little Ram Island House
William Pedersen's Little Ram Island House sets sail.
Architects & Firms
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.
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.
Andrew J. Klare Associate AIA
Acoustical: Bonnie Schnitta PHD
Other: Building Enclosure: Darren J. Casale, AIA
William Pedersen FAIA, FAAR
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Reilly Wood Works
Reilly Wood Works
Floor and wall tile:
Bluestone Flooring (corridors and Bathrooms)
Norman Cherner- Cherner Chair
Paulo Mendes da Rocha- Paulistano Chair
Charles and Ray Eames - Eames Walnut Stools
Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Commissioned Art: (Living Room Wall Piece)