Lush, gated properties are not out of the ordinary in the Westchester village of Tarrytown, New York. However, set back upon the Rockefeller family’s former estate lies something entirely out of the ordinary—a stately greenhouse for growing oranges. Built in 1908 by architect William Welles Bosworth, the building served as a winter greenhouse for orange trees, an orangerie. More than a century later, New York-based architecture firm FXCollaborative wants to give "the Orangerie," a building on the estate, a new purpose, with plans to adapt it into a public arts center with net-zero carbon emissions. Plans for the David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center began in 2015 at the Pocantico Center, a conference and community resource center developed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) on the former Rockefeller property in Tarrytown. The new center will include multipurpose performance spaces, a gallery, and a flexible art studio that will also accommodate community programs. “The repurposed building will give us space to elevate and nurture the creative process," said Judy Clark, executive director of the Pocantico Center, “for both emerging and world-class artists, and local community groups alike.” With an emphasis on sustainability from the very beginning, FXCollaborative’s designs include a rain garden for stormwater control and habitat restoration as well as on-site solar panels that will generate more energy annually than the building will consume. The firm will also seek LEED Platinum certification for the Orangerie in alignment with RBF’s “decades-long commitment to promote sustainable design,” as described by Sylvia Smith, a senior partner at FXCollaborative. “Our approach will elegantly fuse arts-drive and net-zero energy design,” said Smith. “The result will be a laboratory for creative production and a model for sustainable transformation.” The regeneration will present a new chapter in the Orangerie’s unusual history on the Rockefeller estate, which has played home to four generations of the family. Post-World War II, the building was used as a storage facility before ownership was transferred to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1979. Today, it operates as part of the larger RBF amidst terraced residences and gardens. “The goal of this project is to see artists and their work as a dynamic work in progress, instead of a static, finished project,” said Smith. “We know Mr. Rockefeller believed art changes the way one perceives the world, and we’re excited to play an important part in facilitating that change in New York.” Construction for the David Rockefeller Creative Arts Center is set to begin later this year and conclude in the spring of 2021.
Ever wanted to live in a home designed by a world-famous modern architect? Well, here's a chance: The owner of Philip Johnson's first built commission is looking for a buyer, and fast. Johnson's Booth House, built in 1946, predates the Glass House by three years and was the architect's first built work (not counting his Harvard GSD thesis project). Like the Glass House, which Johnson designed for himself in New Canaan, Connecticut, the Booth House in rural Bedford, New York sits on a grassy podium, sports floor-to-ceiling glazing, and is organized internally around a commodious brick fireplace. The owners—architect Sirkka Damora and her husband, architectural photographer Robert Damora (1912–2009)—moved in as renters in 1955 and never left. After buying the house in the 1960s, they added almost 900 square feet of below-grade space to the 1,450-square-foot home, expanding the layout for a growing family without substantially altering Johnson's design. The couple's son, Matt Damora, has distinctive memories of growing up in what would become a seminal work of modern architecture. "It's all I knew, but every friend that came by thought it was entirely weird," he said. In a town defined by Colonial Revival homes with decorative entrances and functionless shutters, "they weren't used to the idea of floor-to-ceiling glass, or open plan spaces—the lack of ornamentation, they didn't know what to do with it." Damora's architect parents clearly felt differently, even building an 800-square-foot studio on the two-acre property that dialogued with Johnson's design. Now 93, Sirkka is looking to sell the house, and soon. She wants "appreciative stewards" for her home of 62 years, according to a post Matt submitted to Docomomo, the modern architecture preservation association. There are a few complications, though: The title of the house is in litigation, which—depending on the outcome of the case—could jeopardize its very existence, Matt explained. Readers may recall that this is not the first time the house has been on the market: Back in 2010, the family tried to sell the home for $2 million, but the post-Recession market in Westchester County wasn't strong enough to close a deal. This time, the home is back on the market for $1 million. With the house's fate uncertain, Matt fears that a future developer could demolish the (small by today's standards) home and build a McMansion or two on the property, which is adjacent to a developable lot. Considering the urgency of the family's project, Matt has made his contact information available to the public in hopes of expediting a sale: He can be reached at r[dot]damora[at]verizon[dot]net or 718-230-8858.