Today Curbed sits down with John Ike of NYC-based Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects, a firm that currently holds rank on Arch Digest's AD 100 list and recently chronicled its phenomenally diverse portfolio in Houses (Random House 2010). "John Ike, Thomas Kligerman, and Joel Barkley speak architectural languages of the past with a sure command of grammar and syntax and a rich vocabulary of form and detail," writes architect Robert A.M. Stern in his forward. Here, we chat about one of IKBA's newest projects, a family house on the New Jersey coastline.
Curbed National: What was the first thing these clients asked? Was this built as an entertaining house? For family?
John Ike: A great house for entertaining was the first discussion. Of course, the family was key, but the floor plan is very simple and transparent, lending itself to having a great party.
CN: You've said before: "Just as novelists and filmmakers gravitate toward genres that suit the themes they choose to explore, we look for the historic style that represents the best vehicles for the architectural story we wish to tell." Was there a specific historic property that inspired you here?
JI: The great Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio's Villa Trissino served as the inspiration for this house. The interior is decidedly more modern in keeping with the owner's taste. The story line we adopted was of a modern intervention within this classic old villa, much as the great modern Italian architect Carlo Scarpa did in alterations to the Museo Castelvecchio in Verona. This combination of the antiques and modern pieces is both visually exciting and functionally illustrative.
Photos: Durston Saylor
CN: So this really does, in fact, illustrate IKBA's signature "old meets new" style.
JI: Yes, and very matter of factly. A stainless steel-and-glass curtain wall separates the conditioned living/dining room from the front and rear loggias. The rustic beamed ceiling marches unobstructed through all three spaces.
CN: Let's re-imagine this as a one-room house. Which room would you hang on to?
JI: The room I just described. It's a room for all seasons with a great number of daily functions accounted for.
CN: Can you pinpoint a single favorite building material?
JI: Probably wood. Although it's the juxtaposition of different materials together that heightens their natural qualities.
CN: And what can you add about the overall interior design?
JI: It's predicated on the architecture—the conversation between old and new, interior and exterior, smooth and rough. Although these aren't exclusively modern themes, the overall tenor is modern. One piece of note, the wood center hall table, is by Italian Sculptor Mario Ceroli and dates from 1970.
CN: If you had to create a soundtrack for the house, what songs would you include?
JI: Gilberto Gil and some classic Brazilian bossa nova from the '60s.
CN: How would you describe the general experience of walking in?
JI: It's totally transparent from the time you turn in the driveway. If it weren't for the privet hedges surrounding the sunken tennis court in the front of the house, you'd be able to see all the way through to the ocean.
CN: Finally, please describe the finished project in five words or less.
JI: Transparent in intention and execution.
· Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects [official site]