Orlean Gillespie Residence

Columbia County, New York

The landscape and views of this Hudson Valley Residence are a collage of rolling hills, forests, pastures and emerging forests that are reclaiming the pasture land. The complex history of this landscape can be read through the stone fences that not only bound the fields, but also can be found running through fifty-year-old forests. Revealing these powerful and poignant aspects of this landscape became fundamental determinants of the organization of this residence.

The drive winds through a forty-year-old stand of black locust trees to arrive at a parking area that presents two stone walls bounding a narrow walk through the trees to the entrance. This compressive experience is continued in the small stone-walled entry that lays several steps below the main living spaces. Only when one arrives at these spaces does the view expand to reveal the proximate and distant landscape. This release from the compressed entry experience is further dramatized by the roof, which pitches up to the view.

The plan is organized into a ‘public’ (kitchen, living, dining) block and ‘semi-private (studio)/private’ block containing bedrooms. A small south facing ‘micro climate’ courtyard that allows the owners to live outside in the cooler fall and spring months separates the two blocks. An outdoor fireplace further enhances the livability of this court.

The more open ‘public’ block is framed with a more open glulaminated post and beam structure while the more closed, private block is framed in stud wall construction. The two blocks are mediated by the study, which is a glulaminated structure facing the courtyard, but a stud frame structure bordering the bedrooms.