10 September 2008

In a Quiet Noyes House

I've written before that on the cold, windy day last November when Gina and I entered the house Eliot Noyes built for his family in New Canaan we both felt relieved, as if we were in a place that could be home, quiet and warm and comfortable. We're not the only ones who feel that way. Fred Noyes, Eliot's son, does too, and so does Skip Ploss, who writes the Embrace Modern blog, and who went to the Noyes house not long ago to do a Q&A with Fred. Here's an excerpt:

FN: ... The ones [i.e., the houses] where the architect has been able to touch into the emotional side we were talking about and the practical side, being able to understand that the design is centered more around how people live rather than making boxes and fitting people in to it. They become as warm as, or warmer than, some of the earlier houses which are constricted and feel tight. I think that this house is a perfect example of exactly that. You walk in to this space and you breathe out…

EM!: It’s amazing. It’s so tranquil and just a wonderful warm feeling sitting here.

FN: My father did another house in Vermont which we also still own and it’s similar in the sense that the “bookends” are stone. Very small, open stud construction because it’s just a ski house but in that house, when you walk in, you can hardly walk across the room before you kind of have to sit down its so relaxing. When I am under real pressure in my office, I go up there. I roll out the yellow trays on the dining room table and can be there for 15 hours without ever getting fidgety in any way, it’s such a relaxing space. It has a slightly sloped roof so it has some volumetrics to it. It comes down to our original point which is that sense of it being emotionally accessible in these things when they’re done right using the materials available to them.

Fred says a lot of interesting things, including an obvious one: just because it's modern, doesn't mean it's good. And, which is good news: Well, we are definitely going to protect the house in the sense that nobody will tear it down and then we’ll either sell it to someone who’s raising a family or understands what it is that they are buying and leaves it untouched. My hope of hopes would be to place it in the public eye and to do something similar to The Glass House but that’s a stretch because that means that you not only need the purchase price from us but endowment and that would be a lot of money.

I found the picture, by the way, by Googling Eliot Noyes and clocking on a Picasa page. It was taken the same day that Gina and I were there, during last year's New Canaan Historical Society's Modern House Day, by someone named Amanda, who I think is probably our friend Amanda Martocchio. -- ta

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