The floating spaceship-like oblong structure is known as Whitfield Shore, a condominium located in Guilford, Connecticut, built by well-known modernist residential architect Wilfred J. O. Armster, now in his seventies. The steel, copper and concrete structure is built high up on stalks to take advantage of the views to the south of Long Island Sound. Inside are 13 one-bedroom loft units range from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet, featuring open living areas and two-car garages. The building has a rich history. The local residents, used to charming Colonial housing, began calling it the spaceship down the street. And if you’ll remember the comic strip, “Zippy the Pinhead,” this iconic building was memorialized in it in 2002.
It was in 1984 when the site of an old restaurant named Berenice’s was purchased and slated for development into luxury condominiums. The owner wanted something “wild” from Armster, renowned for his Modernist architecture. The building owners loved their wild design; however, most of the residents win the community called it a monster spaceship down the street. Despite the complainers and controversial Town Hall meetings, the building was eventually approved, built and the units sold. A number of artists reside in the modern structure.
One of the residents, Environmental consultant Edward Sailer, founder of ProComplianceWare, appreciates anything environmentally sound. He said, “We have fabulous views of the sound. We are walking distance to a marina, yacht club, restaurants, the Town Green and the train station, so it is a great weekend getaway from Manhattan.”
The Whitfield Shore condominiums - otherwise known as the "Spaceship Condos" - were designed by the architect Wilfred J.O. Armster as seen from the street. (Photo credit: B. Toolan for The Plan Collection)
The exterior of Whitfield Shore was constructed with copper, and compared to traditional building materials like wood or synthetic materials, copper has many environmental advantages making it a superior choice for home construction including the fact that copper is long lasting. Copper roofing might be expensive but it is a quality investment that holds up under all types of weather. A wooden roof might require replacement every decade or so, while copper can last hundreds of years with the proper maintenance. Copper maintains its integrity through continuous recycling and can be reused over and over again for multiple purposes. Finally, copper is naturally produced.
When using steel, the National Association of Steel-framed Housing states this: “Steel is 100 percent recyclable. Steel recycling programs reduce the solid waste stream, resulting in saved landfill space and the conservation of natural resources.”
The award winning architect offers this philosophy about our living spaces. “A masterful house offers protection and excitement, using spaces and forms that evoke our imaginations, our emotions and passions that flavor our lives. Strong exterior forms, sculptural forms are the structure and sinew that we feel as a part of our protection. What these forms hold, what they contain are the spaces we live within. It is where we create, and the light that passes into and through these forms color and sustain our spirit. We are connected to the earth and the air of life when our spirits are touched.”
According to local architect Duo Dickinson, also an architectural writer, “He designs everything with extreme integrity.” He wrote an article about another one of Armster’s buildings known as the Cube house, also in Guilford.”
(Photo credit: Photos used in lead image - B. Toolan for The Plan Collection)