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My architect Joan visited her friend, architect David Mann, in Hudson last weekend. As Joan reports, David loved the site, loved the house, but felt it needed more windows. The back facade is 40 feet long with 30 feet of glass symmetrically broken up by a 10-foot chimney stack. I’m convinced the panorama of the valley below is sufficiently accounted for. This is a home, not an observation tower. Granted, a 40-foot glass wall would be dramatic, very mid century, very Palm Springs on the Hudson. I have nothing against drama in architecture, but not if it’ll compromise comfort and gracious living.
A view is a funny thing. When a client buys an apartment on a high floor of a building, it is, of course, all about the view of the skyline. A city view, however, is very different from a country view. It’s a night view, whereas in the country, the view can be seen only during the day. As beautiful as the view is from my house, at night it will disappear when the lights are turned on inside. Without exterior lighting (remember, light pollution is now a serious issue), the transparent glass becomes an opaque plane, reflecting the interior of the house.
A fireplace is the hearth of the home, and it deserves a place of prominence. Historically, this has always been true except, of course, during the brief vogue of the conversation pit, popular in 1960’s Los Angeles. But nothing takes the chill out of a cold night more than standing in front of an open fire (especially when standing on a radiant heated floor). When was the last time you couldn’t wait to get home and curl up in front of a plate glass window?