Own a Classic Robert A.M. Stern Home
by mike olson
A Water Mill home by famed architect Robert A.M. Stern comes to market.
The bayfront home has 300 feet of waterfront plus a dock. A sunken tennis court and heated gunite pool are placed so as not to obstruct the view.
In May, a duplex in Robert A.M. Stern’s tower at 15 Central Park West fetched $48 million—roughly double what it cost in March 2008 ($23.9 million)—while his West Village property, Superior Ink, was named the fifth-costliest building of 2013, collecting $3,901 per square foot. It’s safe to say that investing in the 75-year-old architect is a growth opportunity.
But decades before he redefined modern luxury in Manhattan, Stern was doing the same in the Hamptons. And while his more recent offerings dot the East End from Bridgehampton to Montauk with stops in Sagaponack and East Hampton (where he famously designed the Town Hall) in between, one of his classics—a seven-bedroom, 6,100-square-foot home sitting on 4.6 pristine acres on the shore of Mecox Bay—is on the market in Water Mill.
This seven bedroom Robert A.M. Stern–designed home in Water Mill is on the market for $27.5 million.
Though it was built nearly 30 years ago, this home is quintessential Stern, nodding to the Hamptons’ rich, shingle-style past with a particular focus on the perfect proportions of every window, door, room, and hallway. “The design really reflected the era, and it’s still great if you want something simple with clean lines,” says Harald Grant, senior global real estate advisor and associate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty, who once likened buying a Stern home to purchasing a work of art. “That’s what this is: a simple, clean, traditional home by a very good architect.”
Of course, the home also happens to sit on one of the most spectacular pieces of property in Water Mill, boasting 300 feet of western waterfront and a dock right on the bay. The sheer width of the property gave Stern, who is also dean of Yale School of Architecture and J.M. Hoppin Professor, room to exploit those expansive western views by tucking the sister structures—a sunken tennis court, a heated gunite pool, a caretaker cottage—in less conspicuous areas. “When you have such a wide piece of property, you can have all of those things without obstructing your view,” adds Grant. “You have more open space, and that means the house gets western sunsets. It’s just a great piece of property.”
A view of the sunset over Mecox Bay.
Those westward views are immediately on display upon stepping into the home’s double-height entry hall and continuing throughout the living room, den, kitchen (with breakfast area), and dining room (with built-in service bar). Upstairs, the vistas are even more breathtaking from the master and guest suites, as well as the office tucked into the home’s trademark cupola.
The end result is unmistakably Stern, the early work of a man on the verge of mastering his craft. “When I first visited the US to tour Bob Stern’s houses, what struck me most was the self-confidence,” remembers Clive Aslet, the British author of The American Houses of Robert A.M. Stern, a book dedicated to the architect’s blending of historical tradition with contemporary needs. “He was doing things without any reservation about referring to tradition. In fact, he seemed to be picking up right where early 20th-century architects had left off.”
The double-height entry hall also provides a glimpse of the water.
Though Aslet’s book chronicled homes in locations ranging from the mountains to the city, he was most drawn to Stern’s work on the East End. “There’s a great sense of place in Bob Stern’s houses, and the Hamptons struck me as being specifically American,” Aslet explains. “The area is very beautiful with such great light. Americans can do informal living in style!”
Sotheby’s Grant can attest to that, and that’s why he’s confident this $27.5 million home will not be on the market long. “Stern carries a lot of weight,” Grant says. “The combination of that name, the way the owners have kept the house immaculate, and the location with 300 feet of waterfront makes for a very attractive property.”
In the meantime, Stern continues to mold the evolving Manhattan skyline. His next limestone-clad creation at 220 Central Park South will rise 950 feet, with sales numbers expected to be so strong that Vornado Realty Trust fronted more than $15 million just for the air rights. A little east, at Stern’s 520 Park Avenue, the 51-story building will comprise just 31 units, with the 12,400-square-foot triplex alone certain to fetch $100 million. That megatower will be completed in 2017, but over in beautiful Water Mill, the majesty of a Stern home can be had right away. 50 Nugent St., Southampton, 283-0600
photography by Jake Rajs (interior, pool)