In the course of his 25-year career, architect Frank Greenwald has designed houses everywhere from the Hamptons, where he lives, to as far away as the Caribbean, where he vacations. Some of his projects—at Ralph Lauren’s homes in Round Hill, Jamaica, and in Bedford, New York, for example—have been for people with famously exacting design tastes. However, he took on a client who caused him serious trepidation—Frank Greenwald. “It’s challenging for an architect to design a house for himself,” he says. “There’s all this pressure. ‘What is he going to build? What is it going to look like?’ You have so many ideas in your head. Singling out one is very difficult.”
Greenwald was fond of his previous residence, an old Shingle Style, right next to his office in East Hampton, New York. But after his son and daughter grew up and moved out, he and his wife, Laura, decided they needed a change—“something a little cleaner and fresher and more open,” he says. “And we wanted to be on the water.” Greenwald initially considered building another Shingle Style dwelling, but one that would be simpler and pared down. Then came a second idea. Though his firm is best known for traditional designs, the architect had always hoped for a chance to create a modern place. “I thought I should try something I hadn’t done before,” he says, “something I couldn’t do with a client.”
While looking to push beyond his comfort zone, Greenwald certainly wasn’t interested in a home that was forbiddingly austere. “My wife and I like stuff,” he says. “We collect books and photographs and art. And we love the character and warmth of a Shingle Style house. We wanted a balance between light and open and warm and cozy. ”While decidedly modern, the house also looks back to the 19th century, recalling the strong vertical and horizontal lines favored by one of Greenwald’s heroes, German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. There are four bedrooms: three upstairs, for the couple’s children and guests, and a ground-floor master suite that opens onto the back terrace, which is paved with elegant bluestone and connects to a tranquil swimming pool.