Fox–Zifchock Residence

Ithaca, NY

A concrete cube fallen from the sky and landing on the edge of a ravine in Ithaca, NY. A very simple and modestly-sized 1500sf contemporary home, designed in collaboration with the homeowners.

Design intent was for a modern minimalist structure with a strong control of light, views, and air circulation between floors. The largest rooms of the house are the living room and second floor sun room, featuring floor-to-ceiling glazing on the southwest corner of the house. Bedrooms were kept to a minimal size, with an unconventional shared dressing/laundry room to store each family member’s clothing.

The program called for a chemical free home, which prioritized the use of concrete, glass and steel (no glues, no finishes, formaldehyde free wood, etc.). The wall system consists of rigid foam sandwiched between two layers of reinforced concrete giving a raw natural finish inside and out (Thermomass system). The floors are diamond polished without the use of sealants. Interior partitions and ceilings are made of magnesium board, a paperless alternative to gypsum board. All windows are made of fiberglass, rather than the more typical vinyl. The roof is made of structural insulated panels (SIPS).

Exterior site work is intended to be equally minimalist, with the natural forest floor coming right up to the walls. Initial drawings call for giant shale boulders, placed in close proximity to the glass windows, that visually dissolve into a scree mulch.

  • CLIENT: Mark and Claire Fox-Zifchock
  • DATE: 2009