Architect Thomas Kligerman Leaves No Stone — or Shingle — Unturned

Architect Thomas Kligerman house in Watch Hill Rhode Island as seen in new book Shingle and Stone published by Phaidon imprint The Monacelli Press

Thomas Kligerman’s recently released book, Shingle and Stone, could be considered a breakup album. A few months ago, the architect announced the forthcoming launch of a solo practice after spending decades as part of the celebrated New York–based residential-architecture firm Ike Kligerman Barkley. The handsome, large-format monograph from the Monacelli Press, an imprint of Phaidon, certainly helps celebrate his new venture.

Architect Thomas Kligerman gabled house on East Hampton as seen in his new book Shingle and Stone published by Phaidon imprint The Monacelli Press
Architect Thomas Kligerman’s new book, Shingle and Stone — published by the Monacelli Press, an imprint of Phaidon — includes a multi-gabled estate in East Hampton whose garden-facing elevation was designed to warmly welcome the clients’ family and friends (photo by Richard Powers). Top: In the storied coastal Rhode Island enclave of Watch Hill, Kligerman designed a a house whose narrowest end, he writes in the book, “addresses the water like the prow of a ship” (photo by Nick Ventura).

But this design-world “Let It Be” has all the poetry and none of the rancor of the Beatles breakup hit. The parting with his talented former partners, John Ike and Joel Barkley, was entirely amiable, and the majority of the 13 commissions featured in the book are those he completed while with the firm. In the final section, the reader is treated to a preview of three in-the-works residences from Kligerman’s new team. These promise great things from the particular brand of “modern traditionalism” — as some have called it — that helped make his name and that he now looks to push in new directions.

Architect Thomas Kligerman slatted shed-like poolhouse in dunes on Martha's Vineyard as seen in his new book Shingle and Stone published by Phaidon imprint The Monacelli Press
The interior of a pool house Kligerman designed in the dunes of Martha’s Vineyard features Luminessence pendant lights by Stephen White, a pair of slipcovered chairs, a white lacquer Jonathan Adler cocktail table, a Bigfoot dining table by Philipp Mainzer for E15 and a Wüd Furniture Design media cabinet. Photo by Peter Aaron / OTTO

Written with Mitchell Owens, the U.S. editor of the World of Interiors, the book lays out both Kligerman’s history and his influences. Fans of his work know that the shingle style has been an enduring touchstone for him — rarely has a designer gotten more use, and more joy, from cladding buildings in squares of cedar.

Receiving his design degree from the Yale School of Architecture, during the long tenure of the historian Vincent Scully — who literally wrote the book on the style — certainly helped. But Kligerman grew up partly in New Mexico, where the Puebloan style made a deep impression on him, and the sway of the curves in those traditional forms found its way into his work, too. (Although there are a lot more shingles than stones on display in the book, despite its title, we do see some of the latter in the rough-hewn rock walls of a Toronto project that is still underway.)

Architect Thomas Kligerman blacked wood and arching stone house on South Carolina's Lake Keowee as seen in his new book Shingle and Stone published by Phaidon imprint The Monacelli Press
The free-form pool at a Kligerman house on Lake Keowee, South Carolina, was designed to echo the curves of the nearby lake. The pool itself dramatically reflects the arching stone bridge that connects two parts of the house. Photo by Richard Powers

For a project called Woodland Red, in Upper Brookville, on Long Island, Kligerman riffed on the turn-of-the-century country house elements that one might find in a Stanford White–style home, as well as some of the work of H. H. Richardson. Exaggerating the traditional proportions slightly, the design mixes red brick with red shingles in a striking combination.

Many of the houses presented here — in 200 beautiful images by various photographers, plus accompanying architectural drawings — are on the East Coast, and they take their aesthetic cues from the local traditional vernacular. But they depart from it, too. 

Architect Thomas Kligerman modern house in Seattle as seen in his new book Shingle and Stone published by Phaidon imprint The Monacelli Press
Kligerman writes in the book that this Seattle house “becomes a lantern when night falls, a sculpture in light, glass, and steel.” The project — in which Kligerman worked largely outside the realm of shingle and stone — shows how modern his designs can be. Photo by Richard Powers

A shingled home in Sagaponack, also on Long Island, called the Origami Flare Loft, for example, features a daring roofline of inflected planes that looks like a Dutch gable went to Japan for its semester abroad. It astonishes, but it works in its Hamptons context, because the folds have an elegant modesty about them. A Seattle home full of Miesian beams and straight lines in glass and steel, meanwhile, shows just how modern Kligerman can be. 

The architect notes in the book that his work is now taking a “futuristic” turn. That’s something perhaps best seen toward the volume’s end, in the knifelike edges of the chimneys atop an in-progress house in Dallas. Overall, Shingle and Stone gives readers a clear feeling that we’d follow him into the future he’s designing, and anywhere else for that matter.

Cover of architect Thomas Kligerman's new book Shingle and Stone published by Phaidon imprint The Monacelli Press
The Monacelli Press released Shingle and Stone: Thomas Kligerman Houses last month.

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