The house is situated on a modest site bounded by houses on either side, a street at the front, and a waterway at the back. Local zoning ordinances dictated an additional constraint: the construction of a pitched roof and an elevated interior living space to avoid flooding. Moreover, in conflict with the dense suburban surroundings, the clients desired openness as well as privacy. The solution was at once to maintain a street facade and to create an interior spatial matrix—merging expansive with introverted gestures.

The private areas of the house form the solid corners of the street facade, which produces an ambiguous reading: a simultaneous affirmation and denial of frontality. Seen from the front, the insets at the ground floor constitute part of a contained strip; from the southwest corner they appear to be part of the platform along the side and rear that supports the house and pool enclosure. Thus the two beveled corners belong as much to the sides and base of the house as to its facade.

The windows are arranged in nearly symmetrical order, on the side elevations, they become a series of incisions into the outer surfaces of a volume. Although several are alluded to, no datum, no center, either in plan or in elevation is fully recovered. The facade reads as a low pediment of the kind often seen on suburban ranch and split-level houses, but it may also be interpreted as a framed, distorted view of a corner in perspective. 

The repetition of certain formal elements establishes an internal reference. A doubling of the facade occurs in the entry sequence one passes through an opening in the chevronlike street facade, then ascends to the loggia where one encounters a second, similar facade.

Location: Sarasota, Florida, USA

Client: Harris and Carol Cohen

Schedule: 1985-1992

Program: Private Residence

Team: Preston Scott Cohen (Design)