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Modernism, Minimalism, Sustainability: Talking to Roger Ferris

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The Bridge golf club has been making waves for the past few years with its new-millennium cool, especially the astonishing clubhouse designed by architect Roger Ferris. The club is almost entirely owned by retired Wall Streeter Robert Rubin, who has also planned for residences to be built on land surrounding the clubhouse. The first home, designed by Roger Ferris for Bob Rudin, is now complete. We wanted to find out more, so we asked Roger questions about The Bridge and how it's transforming residentially.

You designed The Bridge clubhouse and now the first home flanking the property. How is the process of designing a home different from designing a different kind of building?
Designing any building always entails first defining the uses to which it will be put—the needs of its occupants—and how to fulfill those needs while also providing architectural pleasure and excitement to anyone in or around it. With homes, the architect has to think about creating a more intimate scale that comforts the human body and about both public (living rooms) and private (bedroom) spaces. The Bridge is a public space in which intimacy is not important, but roominess is.

Was sustainability as important when designing the home as it was designing The Bridge?
Since sustainability is important for the health of the earth, it has to be important in all our projects. Elements that make buildings sustainable can and should be integrated into and inform an overall contemporary aesthetic. We call the house near The Bridge "Green House," because, among other things, rainwater is collected on its roof for use in the garden, and its exterior panels are recycled.

How do the home designs complement the architecture of The Bridge?
In both cases, the idiom is contemporary. Some would say that the design vocabulary is neo-modernist and sometimes minimalist: large windows maximizing views and natural light are major elements; surfaces are kept unadorned, clean and simple; and so on. I hope both are daring and dramatic.

What kind of house did you grow up in? Does it affect how you design homes today?
My family moved frequently so I had the experience of living in many homes. I suppose that experience allowed me to develop a critical eye for design and function.

How would you describe your signature style?
Having a signature style is anathema to my architectural sensibilities. While my methodological approach to design is consistent in every project, the results are always different. All projects must be unique because they have unique clients, programmatic needs, sites, budgets, contexts, and much more. That said, it's certainly true that I appreciate the values of modernism and minimalism.

What inspires you as an architect?
I find inspiration in all forms of contemporary art including sculpture, painting, photography, installation art, film, and more. Our office serves as an art gallery and we are constantly changing the installations to keep up the stimulation to keep our creative juices flowing.

What do you want to be remembered for?
Having designed some great buildings and having been a good father, husband, and friend, not necessarily in that order.
· The Bridge [Roger Ferris]