Wooden Cabins at a Catskills Resort Let You “Camp” in Luxurious Style

Piaule Catskill view

Love the idea of camping, but not the reality? Then well-appointed cabins that give you expansive views of a scenic setting are exactly what you’re looking for. A boutique hotel called Piaule Catskill in Catskills, New York grants its guests an opportunity to commune with nature without sacrificing the comforts of home – or, ideally, while eclipsing them. Designed by Garrison Architects and created by Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs, Paul Catskill features 24 wooden cabins, each of which has its own massive floor-to-ceiling window to take in the wooded landscape.

Piaule Catskill main house exterior
Piaule Catskill glass front

The cabins are set adjacent to a main communal house and spa, accessible via short footpaths from the parking lot. Each one measures 375 square feet and includes its own ensuite bathroom with heated floors, organic linens from Portugal, Japanese glassware and minimalist furniture. The wall-to-wall glass end of the cabin slides open to offer direct access to the outdoors, making the bedrooms feel like a screen porch. “These windows are designed to present visitors with the sensory atmosphere of outdoor camping from the comfort of an indoor cabin, and awe them with views of the sun setting over the picturesque mountains,” say the architects.

Piaule Catskill cabin bedroom
Piaule Catskill wood wall
Piaule Catskill wood wall

The cabins themselves are made in modular wooden sections transported up the site and craned into their locations for minimal site disturbance in order to protect local wildlife. Some of them can be connected together with a “joiner” living room to create two-bedroom suites. Inside the main house, guests can lounge, dine, drink at the bar, read and gather by a fireplace. The spa offers a steam rom, sauna, massage, yoga and fitness room as well as a hot tub overlooking the western view.

Piaule Catskill main house
Piaule Catskill spa

“The Piaule Landscape Retreat encourages visitors to continue their exploration beyond the hotel grounds, which are meant to be traversed on foot with nature trails that loop in and out of the surrounding woods and wetlands. There are a wide range of hiking and other outdoor adventure opportunities nearby, and the small city of Hudson, New York is within a 30-minute drive. The landscape hotel is designed to foster interaction among visitors in communal spaces, while allowing them to relax at the spa and retreat to private cabins, providing an ideal getaway amidst the scenic backdrop of the Catskill Mountains.”

This Modern Pine Home Takes Inspiration from Traditional Barn Raisings

Mountain House by Amalgam Studio

Traditional barn raising, the process by which communities come together to assemble a timber frame barn, informed the process of constructing a beautiful new home made of pine near Rhinebeck, New York.

“Much like the traditional community barn-raising events of the past, the entire timber structure of the home was raised as ‘bent’ frames in one day,” says Manhattan-based architecture firm Amalgam Studio of the project.

Mountain House by Amalgam Studio Modern Pine Mountain House by Amalgam Studio Modern Pine 5

Tasked with creating a spacious 5,000-square-foot family home with a small environmental footprint on an elevated site in the lush Hudson River Valley, the architects wanted a design that’s thoroughly modern in its feel and functionality without sticking out like a sore thumb in the idyllic rural area.

Mountain House by Amalgam Studio Modern Pine 2 Mountain House by Amalgam Studio Modern Pine 3

Their solution was to mimic the shape of the area’s barns with a low, rectangular plan, pine-clad walls and a gabled roof.  For warmth, richness and sustainability, Amalgam Studio chose to wrap the entire facade in pine slats infused with bio-based liquid to make it stronger and more insect resistant. They left the wood unpainted and unstained so it will weather over time, just like those barns.

“It was applied as a rain screen to all outside walls and also covers the roofs, using a unique, innovative clip system to the standing seams of roof sheeting – a first in North America,” the architects note.

Mountain House by Amalgam Studio Modern Pine 6 Mountain House by Amalgam Studio Modern Pine 4

This roof is punctuated with skylights to give the interiors a light and airy feel. Wide expanses of glass on the longer sides of the home enable sweeping views of the landscape, and some of these windows can be covered with louvers for privacy.

All photos by Oliver Mint

Look at Them Now! Farmhouses of the New York City Area, 200+ Years Later

john peter westervelt house today

Recently, we took a look at some of the old colonial houses featured in the second-ever issue of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs, and investigated how one of them (Massachusetts’ Dalton House) has held up over the years. While some of the nation’s earliest architecture has been lost in the centuries since it was built, many structures are not just still standing, but more beautiful than ever. Painstaking restoration and historical preservation enables us to appreciate their many fine details in person. For virtually every Monograph issue published between 1916 and today, there’s at least one building that can be revisited.

The Monographs didn’t just gift us with rich historical accounts of these structures, they also provide a glimpse at what they looked like in the early 20th century through the photography accompanying each written piece. It’s fun to see how these houses, churches and other structures have changed since then. In a new ongoing series, we’ll examine more of these striking before-and-afters.

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This week, let’s check in with the farm houses featured in Volume I, Issue III of the White Pine Monographs. Built in what was then ‘New Netherlands,’ i.e. New Jersey and New York, these houses date back as far as 1790. While the prominently featured Board Zabriskie House in Paramus, New Jersey was demolished in 2012, the John Peter Westervelt House of Englewood, New Jersey and the Lefferts Historic House of Brooklyn still stand proud.

It’s no real surprise that few of these New Netherlands farmhouses exist today, given what New York City and its surrounding area was set to become. The Westervelt House, pictured top and built in 1808, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and appears to be privately owned, and its facade is immaculately well-maintained.

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The story of the Lefferts Historic House is a particularly interesting one. Before this white Dutch Colonial structure was built in the late 1700s, an earlier home in its place burned down just prior to the start of the Battle of Brooklyn. An heir of the builders, John Lefferts, left the house to the city in 1917 but required that it be moved to city property – and it was. Lefferts Historic House is now a museum situated in the Children’s Corner of Prospect Park, and it’s full of traditional tools, games and toys for visitors to engage with.

lefferts historic house

While it’s looking a bit shabbier than the Westervelt House, it’s a wonder that it’s still in place given how much New York City and its boroughs have changed since the 18th century. You can see more historic photos of the house at BrooklynHistory.org, and recent photos at the blog Not Intent On Arriving.

The Chelsea Project: High-Rise Wood Condo Tower for NYC

chelsea tower 1

America’s top metropolis is set to get on board with wooden megastructures, hinting toward a tipping point that’ll boost demand for tall wooden buildings throughout the country. One of the winners of the USDA’s recent tall timber building competition, this ten-story condominium by SHoP Architects is a soaring 120 feet high and will overlook the High Line, the city park built on an old elevated freight rail line.

chelsea tower 2

Planned for 475 West 18th Street, the project will have retail space on the ground floor in addition to dozens of new gorgeous-looking, modern wood-lined apartments. The environmentally friendly project aims to reduce overall energy consumption by at least 50 percent relative to current energy codes, and will seek LEED Platinum certification.

SHoP architect Chris Sharples notes that “every element of the building, right down to the elevator core, can be constructed in wood.” Aside from the sustainability of its construction, the building is notable for the warmth that its wood facade brings to an urban landscape that can otherwise be quite hard and cold, packed with steel and concrete.

chelsea tower 3

Boosting the profile of wooden buildings could be a big boon to the entire industry, says U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who announced the winners of the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition at a press conference in September 2015. A proposal called Framework in Portland, Oregon is the second winner.

“The U.S. wood products industry is vitally important as it employs more than 547,000 people in manufacturing and forestry, with another 2.4 million jobs supported by U.S. private forest owners. By embracing the benefits of wood as a sustainable building material, these demonstration projects have the ability to help change the face of our communities, mitigate climate change and support jobs in rural America. I look forward to seeing how these two buildings help lead the way in furthering the industry.”

Architectural Monographs: Cooperstown in the Days of the Author

Cooperstown 1

William Cooper, father of the author James Fenimore Cooper, wrote of the impression that the land that would later become Cooperstown in his name made upon him the first time he visited in 1785. The land, along the coast of Lake Oswego in New York, showed no traces of inhabitants, and had not a single road. “I was alone, three hundred miles from home without food, fire and fishing tackle my own means of subsistence.”

Cooperstown 2

“My horse fed on the grass that grew by the edge of the waters. I laid me down to sleep in my watch coat, nothing but the wilderness around me. In this way I explored the country and formed my plans for future settlement and meditated upon the spot where a place of trade or a village should be established.”

Cooperstown 3

Nearly one hundred and fifty years later, when this issue of the White Pine Monographs was written in 1923, Cooperstown was well-established, but kept its old-fashioned character thanks to its seclusion from many main line railroad. This issue examines the main historical buildings there as they were in that year, including the home where James Fenimore Cooper lived for a time.

Cooperstown 4

“This region, at the time of the building of many of the early houses, abounded in the finest growth of virgin pines, growing to great heights and of ample diameters for all building purposes. This, together with a native stone which quarries like elongated brick, and other quarries at the head of the lake, where hard limestone was plentiful, must have thrilled even the humblest craftsman in his line to make and fashion from these wonderful native materials, moldings and forms and combinations which grew more pretentious and refined as house succeeded house.”

See them all at the White Pine Monograph Library.

Architectural Monographs: The Unique Farmhouses of Old ‘New Netherlands’

EWP Farmhouses New Netherlands

The Colonial architecture of Massachusetts and Virginia tends to get all the attention and accolades when it comes to historical remembrance, but the Dutch had plenty of their own charming structures throughout their colony of ‘New Netherlands,’ in areas of what we know today as New York and New Jersey. By 1915, when this issue of the White Pine Monographs was written, many had been sadly neglected.

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The ones that remained at that time were photographed and displayed throughout this issue, and they’re brimming with beautiful and unique architectural details like gently curving roofs, railings along the rooflines and artistic stained glass around the doorways.

EWP Farmhouses New Netherlands 4

While it’s hard to tell exactly when they were built, many seem to have been erected around the same time as the earliest remaining examples in New England and Virginia. While the English brought many of their home country’s architectural traditions with them to America, the Dutch seem to have started over altogether, with the houses remaining in Long Island and New Jersey resembling “nothing but themselves,” being even more radically different from the work of the Dutch in Holland than they were from the work of the other colonists.

EWP Farmhouses New Netherlands 3

“This difference is not alone a question of material, which might be expected in a new country, but is also a question of form and detail. The steep-pitched roofs of Holland were here transformed into low gentle lines, and the narrow flat cornices of the mother-country were replaced by broad overhanging eaves, from which Classic treatment in general was absent.”

See the whole gallery and read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.