Long Beach, N.Y., might not be as celebrated as its seaside neighbors up the coast—Fire Island, the Hamptons, or Montauk—but its location on the Atlantic Ocean is just as good, offering the same sand, water and views of the sunrise. This is partly the reason a Manhattan couple bought a small cottage on the beach and hired New York–based West Chin Architect to design this open-plan weekend retreat with modern flourishes such as a large airport hangar door that opens the house to the ocean, exposed metal framing, and a cast concrete shear wall.

“The wife had been going to Long Beach since she was a child and her family had a small cabana there,” says architect West Chin. But in contrast to the New England–style homes in the area, the couple wanted something modern but warm enough for entertaining.

Chin razed the cottage, and in its place he nestled a 6,000-square-foot home set on 100 piles driven into the sandy soil. He organized the home on three levels: a ground floor with a family room, four Jack and Jill bedrooms, and a powder room; a second level containing the kitchen, dining room, and living room; and a mezzanine for the master suite. “The neighborhood has a height restriction of 32 feet,” Chin says. “The mezzanine allowed us space to insert a full bath and the master bedroom.”

A cast concrete shear wall anchors the house but acts as a thermal mass that collects heat from the sun during the day and radiates it at night. Left exposed, the wall also serves as an integral part of the design. Additionally, Chin used Austrian laminated structural members measuring about 8 inches thick and 40 feet long to form the floor and roof deck. “The uniqueness of this construction material is that it can span very long distances while maintaining minimum depth,” the architect explains. It also serves as exposed finished surfaces inside and out.

The roof slopes up from the street, easing the transition of scale from the bungalows on one side and the water on the other and creating a 9-foot ceiling in the kitchen and a 22-foot ceiling in the living room. The effect is a large open living area with an airport hangar door that funnels breeze and light into the space. “It ensures that even the deepest reaches of the house have an unobstructed view of the Atlantic,” the architect says.

Despite the home’s modernist/industrial take on the beach house, the spaces are warm and informal. Chin chose materials such as Douglas fir, oak, cedar, and pebble-tiled walls in the master bath to add not only warmth but texture. And the large glass doors upstairs and down make outdoor living easy. For the family of five who entertains at the house almost every weekend, the home is the perfect respite from the hectic pace of life in Gotham, a place to soak up the sand and the sun or swim in the backyard pool. Says Chin, “It’s modern and exciting, but it’s comfortable for entertaining.” 

Project Beach House on Long Island, Long Beach, N.Y.
Architect/Interior designer West Chin Architect, New York
General contractor Custom Homes by Eric, Long Beach
Structural engineer Dominick R. Pilla Associates, Nyack, N.Y.
Project size 6,000 square feet
Site 1/4 acre
Construction cost Withheld
Photography Courtesy West Chin Architect?