Zois Beach House, Seagirt, NJ This is a house that flows and breathes with its surroundings: sea, air and sun. It is a place to meditate and rejuvenate as well as celebrate the drama of nature and life. Barely more than an hour’s drive from New York City in the town of Sea Girt, a stretch of beachfront nestles a dozen private properties in this quiet section of the New Jersey shore. This secluded enclave has been occupied by houses built, at different times during the past 40 years, with a varied, eclectic collection of architectural styles. The beach used to be significantly eroded and the integrity of the properties and the houses on them was seriously threatened. In the nineteen nineties there was a deal made with the township to redefine the property lines, allowing public access to the beachfront in exchange for a major beachfront reconstruction by the Corps of Engineers. This is a land of metamorphosis. The anarchy of the architectural flavors in the area, dictated by market values and consumer trends, shift and transform as fast as the sand dunes and topography. The site of the house is a double-lot, 100-foot wide beach front property where the township maintains strict zoning regulations: maximum height held at 35 feet; front-yard setback 40 feet; side-yard set back 10 feet; back façade, the ocean front of the house, not to extend beyond the line of the existing houses; the maximum volume is two-and-a-half stories based on the allowable footprint. There is also a 30% slope requirement for the roof configuration. To put it simply, the house must fit in an 80' long, 40' deep, and 35' high rectangular box at a fixed location, 40' setback from the street, on the property. The design goal was predicated to challenge the stringent limitations of the site while exploiting its inherent uniqueness. It must employ a strategy that maximizes the spatial potential within the set parameters while unleashing a pulsating ephemeral energy within the site that rejuvenates the spirit, as does its ever-changing context. The house closes itself in on the south, west and the north sides and opens up towards the east, the ocean. The volume brims the maximum rectangle but the enclosure is eroded on all solid sides including the roof. Strategize to comply with the 30%-slope requirement, the roof, with a “total average” of 30% slope, cascades towards the northwest to accommodate the volume of two and a half stories. Tectonically the fluidity of the house is further suggested by the punctured, contour-like stainless steel standing seam roof construction. The space inside the volume is conceived as one continuous space that flows through sectors. Within a generally rectangular boundary, the crucial spatial strategy was to establish a tectonic language that inter-connects the sub spaces and breaks down the barriers between spaces and the inside/outside, visually and conceptually. Interior spatial elements are arranged to challenge the building envelope and, eventually, erodes through it. The fluidity within the spaces is accomplished without employing curved elements. Physically the air flows through a large operable glass curtain wall on the ocean side and out the two mid-level gardens, the two "lungs", creating superfluous natural cross ventilation and light movements. The employment of the east-facing glass curtain wall, the perforations throughout the other walls and the roof, and the two open gardens, create an ever-changing light theater. The central reflection/meditation pool culminates and consummates the natural and the spiritual dimensions of the house. The house is a stoic castle when approached from the street but an open stage towards the ocean; only the ever-performing drama of the ocean and sky is for the enjoyment of the people on stage.