Gallery: Fishers Island Modern Glass Pavilion Blurs the Lines Between I...

Rarely does a garden get built before the home, but such is the case with the Fishers Island glass pavilion after a fire destroyed the original historic home. Designed by Thomas Phifer for Tom Armstrong, a former director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Miesian pavilion is made from steel and glass in order to take in views of both the garden and the nearby Long Island Sound. Blurring the lines between the indoors and the outdoors, the home is filled with natural daylight and is shaded by a large screened canopy surrounding the building.

For years, Tom Armstrong had been developing and growing his garden into a masterpiece, and luckily when his 1926 Georgian Revival home burnt to the ground, the garden remained. When Armstrong and his wife decided to rebuild, they wanted a weekend retreat that would celebrate the garden, so they asked Phifer to design them a steel and glass pavilion where they could be immersed in the surrounding landscape. Like the natural work of beauty in the garden, the home was also designed to house a sizable collection of modernist art.

The long, low building matches the height of the surrounding pruned apple trees as a way to blend into the landscape rather than stand out. Standing on one side, you can see right through, past the art to the other side and all the way out to the Sound. One bedroom and bath sits at one side of the pavilion, while the living, dining and kitchen sit on the opposite side. An atrium acting as a Japanese moss garden divides the public living areas and pulls even more light into the space. A long reflecting pool waits at the home’s entrance visually connecting the viewer’s eye to the water beyond.

Daylight played a major role in the home’s design as part of the process to integrate the interior world with the exterior. Surrounding the home’s perimeter is an 11-ft wide canopy of thin steel tubes that extend out over a black granite walkway. This overhang protects the interior and the valuable works of art from glare, overheating and direct sunlight.

+ Thomas Phifer and Partners

Via Co.Design

Images ©Scott Frances/Thomas Phifer and Partners

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