The Pyramid House 1960
1960. There is a magical house at the eastern end section of the Pines called the Pyramid house as that is its shape. Designed by Julio Kaufman from Buenos Aires. Just one of the many unique homes here it boasts a spectacular view of the dunes and ocean upon entering…
Architect Julio Kaufman came from his homeland of Buenos Aires in 1952. The son of a rabbi he took his masters degree in architecture at Columbia University. Arriving in the Pines in 1957 he decided to build his first home here. His first design on Fire Island. The second home he designed is his most spectacular. It belonged to John Goodwin, nephew of financier J.P. Morgan. The house was built on a 300 foot lot extending from the bay to the ocean. Kaufman explained the design centered on the view of the whole island from the middle of the living room. A pyramid shape was the solution to that. The first floor of the house has a large living room that gives a panorama of the island landscape, two bedrooms, a bathroom with an extra0rdinary sink that a tall man can reach without stooping, and a kitchen. The interior decor is Asian in character. All of his designs were completely different in feeling. He was about putting his client’s personality into his homes. He designed the Botel for Peggy Fears after the fire in 1959. In 1960 he was involved in an accident with a seaplane that resulted in his arm being amputated. Undaunted in the hospital he continued his love of his work by designing the interior’s for two model co op’s in the Pines.
1974 aerial with pyramid house on the right.
1970’s. The original entrance was on Ocean walk. This was eventually changes to Sail walk.
1982. The building begins changing the view.
Here are his recollections:
I believe that the original owner that built the house was Ellie Segal, with her first husband John Goodwin. When I bought my house in 1989 she still lived there, the house still in its original condition, with her second husband, Marvin Segal. Artist Ferron Bell did a great painting of the house, a bit of an exaggerated caricature, in a diamond-shaped frame of boardwalk wood; it was hanging in the Monster in the West Village until recently.The original design had a cruciform lower level with three small bedrooms and a bathroom, connecting up to the main floor by a small spiral staircase. The main floor was square with the iconic pyramid roof, but this space was divided by a wall, partitioning the southern third of the room into a master bedroom and bath. The pure form of the pyramid was purely symmetrical, broken only by the four large dormers on each side, which rose from the floor to provide doors on each of the four sides.
The playwright Paul Rudnick bought the house from Ellie in 2001 and commissioned me to redesign it, a project that was completed in 2003-4. Paul and his partner, Dr. John Raftis, led very public lives in the city, and privacy was very important to them here in the Pines; Paul was also writing his play “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” a humorous and gay retelling of classic Bible stories, during the design process. The design concept grew out of both of these issues.
A large guest house was added at the front of the property; the 30’ width of this structure created a visual barrier from Sail Walk and enclosed a very private courtyard between the guest house and the main house. The mass of the guest house was broken down into three 10’ squares, each rotated to a pure north-south orientation and articulated as three small pyramids, recalling the complex of the Great Pyramid of Cheops and its three adjacent small pyramids, one for each of his queens; Paul loved the idea and insisted that “we have to have the Queens’ pyramids!” The three 10’ square spaces are two bedrooms flanking a central bathroom, each with a translucent pyramidal roof.
The private courtyard included the new pool, hot tub, outdoor kitchen and living room. The main pyramid was completely gutted, creating a single large living/dining/kitchen space on the upper floor. The solid east face of the pyramid was removed and replaced with a custom floor-to-ceiling steel & glass roof-wall system, opening the interior to the spectacular views of the dunes, ocean and bay.
The lower level was expanded to be the same size as the upper floor, with a powder room, laundry and large master suite comprised of a boudoir, dressing rooms, bathroom, sauna, potting shed and gym.
Jeffrey Mahshie bought the house from Paul Rudnick in 2012, and he has maintained it beautifully.