March 9, 2015
A Sublime Vintage Glass House in Armonk, NY
Andrew Mandolene and Todd Goddard make a cross-country move to Westchester, New York, to restore a long-abandoned mid-century gem by Arthur Witthoefft to its former glory.
by Judith Nasatir photographer Costas Picadas architecture Arthur Witthoefft
MAD FOR MODERN
Mad men? Mod men? Creative director Andrew Mandolene AND his real estate specialist husband Todd Goddard are more than a bit of both. What's the mad part? Switching coasts because of a house isn't an everyday M.O. What's the mod part? What isn't? For the last two decades or so, Mandolene and Goddard have lived for mid-century modern. Their sublime, to-the-original-blueprint restoration of architect Arthur Witthoefft's AIA Award-winning, 1957-vintage glass house-25 feet by 100 feet, cantilevered over two stone walls-on three-plus acres in the Westchester hamlet of Armonk, New York, is just the latest example of their passion. The duo have filled it with their oh-so-chic, true-to-the-period, collected-over-time décor-A-listers include Paul McCobb, Harry Bertoia, Milo Baughman, Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, and George Nelson, for starters. The overall effect is arresting, with a soigné touch of the time warp, too.
Yet there's more to Mandolene and Goddard's mad/mod world than meets the appreciative eye. The two were living in Kenaston House, architect E. Stewart William's 1957 jewel in Rancho Mirage, California-not the first of their mid-century homes-when they decided to move. Knowing they were only interested in another mid-century classic, they opted for a bi-coastal search. Among the photos of available properties in the Northeast was a wreck that intrigued them enough to fly across country for a look. Why? One picture captured a sliver of the living room's freestanding fireplace. It was that breathtaking travertine feature that sealed their interest-and, because of the house's disastrous condition after eight years of abandonment, their fates for the next several years. The two outwitted several developers to purchase the place just days before its scheduled demolition. They found Mr. Witthoefft, a one-time staff architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the era's International Style examplar, in Florida, where he had moved with his interior designer wife in 1989. He confirmed that, decrepit though the house was, it was savable because of its steel frame. With Witthoefft's help, plus the ingenuity of Steve Csapo, their "problem-solving" contractor, the couple pursued their restoration project with singular focus-and fidelity to the architect's original plans (Witthoefft lived to see the restoration completed). The house is now listed on the state and national registers. That's the method in their mad/mod-ness.