Hill House

Hill House

Private Houses
Shelter Island, New York, USA - Build completed in 2014
Scott Frances

Hill House

Leroy Street Studio as Architects

The Hill House is a modern year-round refuge located on a wooded hillside. The house, acting as a threshold, marks the transition from trees to rolling fields that extend to the distant waterfront. Because it is situated on a nature preserve and protected wetlands, great care was taken to design a home reverential to its location.


The client, a trustee of the Shelter Island Nature Conservancy, requested a home that was sensitively knit into the site with intimate spaces for the family and a large outdoor event space for entertaining. A series of stone retaining walls form stepped terraces in the landscape. Two hovering cedar-clad boxes linked by a multi-purpose roof deck, shelter the interior and exterior public spaces below, and house the private components of the program. These two “pavilions” float over a dematerialized first floor made of glass that allows the site to remain uninterrupted. The house is a mediator between forest and meadow.


The homeowners are actively involved with the Island’s land trust and enjoy spending time outdoors. The couple requested space for beekeeping, a chicken coop, and greenhouse. The house includes a green roof and xeriscape landscaping with native plants that do not require irrigation due to restrictions on Shelter Island.


The Hlll House has an inherent duality between private living and active, outdoor living. The design team was inspired by the extensive woodland site, which became a constantly reoccuring element seen in the house’s design, material, program, and form.

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