Breaking the Fourth Wall

Photographs by Dean Kaufman

While its sugar-white sand is the same as in the Hamptons, modern architecture is not a hallmark of Long Beach’s streetscape. But when a client approached architect West Chin with a run-down clapboard cottage and dreams of a super-contemporary compound, Chin seized upon the opportunity to reconcile modern design with the traditional Cape Cod–style surroundings. His solution was in the sky: “Most people think of a modern house with a flat roof, but we sloped it in the direction of the ocean so that the roofline fits in with the rest of the street,” says Chin. “You don’t realize the size or the design of the house until you get right up to it.” Additionally, the client, a doctor with a large family and a love of entertaining, wanted a summer home with seven bedrooms and enough space to host large groups of friends. Chin knocked down the existing structure and filled nearly every inch of the property with a 6,000-square-foot house, plus a downstairs pool and patio area. His thinking: Who needs landscaping when you have the Atlantic Ocean just off your terrace?

Taking full advantage of the waterfront, West designed a living area that opened to the outdoors via a 26-foot garage-door-like wall. Instead of resting on a flat concrete foundation, the house sits on 100 piles, inserted into cores drilled into the ground. As a result, the living space feels as if it were floating over the ocean. Weeks after last summer’s move-in, that structural decision paid off functionally, too: The house didn’t even flinch during Hurricane Irene.

Architect West Chin created this three-and-a-half-ton retractable wall for indoor-outdoor living. Travertine-stone floors and a poured raw-concrete wall frame the neutral interiors, chosen by decorator Roseann Repetti. Photo: Dean Kaufman

The Shower
Located off the master bedroom features showers by Boffi, pebble walls, and a retractable glass roof. Photo: Dean Kaufman

The Living Room
Artist Paul Villinski adorned the concrete wall in the living room with a whimsical flock of butterflies. Photo: Dean Kaufman

The Floor Plan Illustration by Jason Lee.

The Exterior
The house is designed with a reinforced thermal mass wall, and a cedar-clad façade with gray-painted steel supports. Photo: Dean Kaufman

Breaking the Fourth Wall