Become a Member

News June 2013

Current News

News Archive

Fire Island Modernist – The book is out

June 4, 2013

Some of you may have been in the packed-house audience at Knoll in May 2011 for Christopher Rawlins’s talk “Sketches in the Sand: the Beach Houses of Horace Gifford. After many years of research—three years just to locate Gifford’s professional estate of drawings and slides—Rawlins’s long-awaited book Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction is available from all the usual sources.

Horace Gifford (1932–1992) was long overlooked even locally, which is surprising because he designed 70 houses on Fire Island. He literally shaped the Fire Island community during The Sixties. His houses are elegant pavilions of cedar, redwood and glass perfectly decked out for views and parties. They were carefully designed to make the most of the barrier island landscape while being modest, sustainable summer houses—which for the most part, they still are.

Rawlins’s book is part architectural, part social history. The photography, both archival and newly commissioned, along with Gifford’s Rudolph-inspired drawings, clearly establishes Gifford’s mastery of domestic architecture and bold architectural forms. In his text, Rawlins conveys the transformation of this boardwalk-connected community into a serene and seductive refuge a short ferry ride from all that was mainstream. Read early raves about the book here.

A practicing architect and writer based in Manhattan, Rawlins is regularly drawn to Fire Island Pines for weekending and his current design and renovation projects. First his website, and now his book are introducing Horace Gifford’s work to a wide audience.

Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction
Christopher Bascom Rawlins. Edited and with a foreword by Alastair Gordon.
Published by Metropolis Books/Gordon de Vries Studio