Saltzman House

An unprecedented combination of pristine white forms, masterful geometric composition, and prominent natural light.

One of Richard Meier’s earliest built works, the Saltzman house presaged the signature style that would make him famous. Sited on a one-of-a-kind property occupying three acres of flat land near the tip of Long Island, the Saltzman House is carefully attuned to the distinguishing characteristics of its surroundings: a picturesque windmill by the shore, the open expanse of adjoining agricultural fields, and the distant Atlantic shoreline. Seen from a distance, whether by boat or during a walk along the shore, the cubic composition appears to flatten into a two-dimensional shape against the background of land and sky.

As in Meier’s iconic Smith House, completed at approximately the same time, the organization of the plan of the Saltzman House is based on a programmatic separation of public and private areas. Here, however, the two zones interpenetrate to a greater degree. The public space opens up like a funnel as the structure rises, so that the integrity of the closed private zone, located along two adjacent sides of the house, is partially eroded on the second level, then disappears entirely on the third, while this same upward trajectory reveals increasingly dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean.   

Two interrelated circulation systems are deployed to accentuate the dynamic character of the design. Originating in an outside stair attached to a small guesthouse, the first system leads to a bridge linking the guesthouse to the main house, while the second rises diagonally across the center of the house and establishes the seam between the public and private zones. Together, the circulation systems offer an endless variety of panoramic views of the surrounding land and seascape.