east coast ease

East Hampton, N.Y.—the waterside playground for celebrities and well-heeled New Yorkers—is known for its sprawling Shingle-style houses and architecturally derivative McMansions. But it also has a history of modernist architecture, says Carol DiCicco Vinci, RA, principal of New York City-based DiCicco Vinci Architects. “There are great examples of houses designed in the 1960s and '70s by people like [Julian and Barbara] Neski and [Charles] Gwathmey,” she says. “They're small and modern with simple geometric forms.”

But that's not the type of house DiCicco Vinci's client wanted when he approached her firm to design a weekend escape from the frenzy of Manhattan's financial district. “He wanted something very traditional, but we turned him around,” she jokes.

DiCicco Vinci ultimately designed the Lewing Residence in the spirit of those mid-century modern houses of the region's history, but she wrapped the structure in horizontal cedar instead of the vertical application that was customary. The house is a relatively modest (by Hamptons standards, anyway) 3,200 square feet and replaces an out-of-code two-story ranch of similar size.

The structure is comprised of two simple volumes with a canopy-topped entry that leads to a middle hall. “The central corridor splits the building in two, with the main living spaces to the right and the private spaces to the left,” she explains. “The corridor also acts as circulation that leads directly to the lap pool and the rear deck.” Despite having the garage facing the street, DiCicco Vinci located the entry to the side and used an acrylic panel to front the house's entry elevation.

Interiors are marked by large open spaces and crisp lines softened by such materials as veneers, wood, and warm-toned stone. Light floods the space thanks to large glass openings and an elongated corner window in the master suite that offers views of the site.

The house is important to DiCicco Vinci, who credits its success to her collaboration with project architect Anne Corvi, RA, and assistants Gianluca Milesi and Ayreen Anastas. The reason: It's her first freestanding residential commission. “I spent eight years doing lofts and apartments and getting a feel for materials,” she says. “Lewing was the first time I went through the experience—my first move out of the box and into three dimensions. It was one of the most exciting things for me.”

Lewing Residence, East Hampton, N.Y.

DiCicco Vinci Architects, New York City

general contractor:
Bistrian Builders, Sagaponack, N.Y.

structural engineer:
Steve Maresca, Hampton Bays, N.Y.

project size:
3,200 square feet

site size:
2 acres

construction cost:

Catherine Tighe Photography