Tour an Architect Couple's Contemporary Getaway



Amagansett Exterior

The Wuehrer clan originally arrived on the East End as tenants. Every summer, Brooklyn-based Barbara Wuehrer-Engelking’s parents would jet over from Europe to spend two weeks with their American grandchildren at one summer rental or another. Eventually, they decided to put down roots in the Hamptons, but Wuehrer-Engelking, an architect, wasn’t impressed with the houses that she found on the market.

What caught her eye: an unspoiled swath of “wide open woods” on the border of Amagansett and Springs, where “you can’t see the neighbors, only birds and deer,” she explains, in her charming Austrian-accented English. Even more appealing was an adjacent forest reserve, which will never be developed.

So the decision was made to build, although not with Wuehrer-Engelking at the helm. Conveniently enough, her husband, Jerome Engelking, is also an architect, and his wife took the backseat from the start, architecturally speaking. The completed house is “entirely Jerome’s,” she says with a laugh, noting how design collaborations, like marriage, can involve a lot of give and take. A designer of low-cost housing, Wuehrer-Engelking offered technical and practical tweaks to the project, as well as client representation for her parents.

Amaganset Home Living Room

A native of France who has lived in the States for 20 years, Engelking is a mid-20th-century furniture collector who just happens to have a day job at Richard Meier & Partners Architects, the renowned New York–based firm. Anything but energy efficient, all-glass houses like the one he designed for his family mostly went out of vogue during the oil crisis of the 1970s. But Engelking’s modern-day iteration in Amagansett boasts a super-insulated roof that generates enough energy savings to offset the vast expanses of windows, which are framed in wood that’s treated to prevent rot and discourage insects, in addition to providing further insulation. The glass is self-cleaning, with a nonstick outer surface that requires only an occasional hosing off.

Milled from Southern yellow pine, the roof beams and window frames were preassembled at a Québec factory. It took four men from the factory a week to erect the vertical components and roof beams atop the house’s concrete slab. “At the end of the first day, I was ecstatic,” Engelking recalls. “This was the most pleasant construction experience I’ve ever had.” And with good reason: A computer simulation had warned that the windows could pop out if anything veered more than a quarter-inch out of line.

The front of the house appears semi-solid, like a wooden box, but it’s actually an exterior sheath of closely spaced fins of Western red cedar, positioned 10 inches in front of the glass to shade it during the hottest part of the day. The interiors are intentionally streamlined and pared down, so as not to compete with the views. Major fittings are European, and of the highest quality: Dornbracht faucets, Gaggenau and Miele appliances, Erco lighting, Viessmann heating.

The minimalist ethos is so pure that a team from Design Within Reach even rented the house for a recent photo shoot. They brought their own furnishings, but the creative director latched onto a one-off Frankenstein creation by Engelking: a rare Eames La Fonda molded-fiberglass chair seat that he has conjoined with a simple shell chair’s basic wire base. As with the architect’s other innovations, the result is so clever that it wouldn’t be surprising to see it pop up in a DWR catalog any day now. 

A version of this article appeared in the August 15 issue of HC&G (Hamptons Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Blind Ambition. 

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Property of Note Listing

15 Kings Dock Road, Garrison, NY
Enjoy the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer at this 9-acre estate offering awe-inspiring vistas, stunning passive architecture and a unique private deep-water dock on the Hudson River. Sited to take full advantage of the amazing scenery, the three-bedroom residence is a triumph of modernist design featuring airy open-plan living spaces and vast window walls that dramatically frame the blissful water and mountain views. The setting, boasting ¼ mile of frontage along the river, also hosts a two-bedroom guest house, a striking Greek temple/playhouse overlooking the river and a detached garage.



View more details about 15 Kings Dock Road
Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


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Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

Laura Kaehler

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Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

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Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

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