News: Villa NM Destroyed By Fire

News: Villa NM Destroyed By Fire

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Regina Yunghans
Feb 15, 2008

You never think of contemporary architectural masterpieces being destroyed by fire. The very nature of much contemporary architecture is pristine, cool, and almost immaterial. But the Villa NM, designed by UN Studio and called this generation's Glass House, did succumb to flames in the Catskills at the beginning of this month...

See more of the house as it was conceived by UN Studio here and in the photo above.

As reported in The Architect's Newspaper:

...a number of issues conspired against the house on the night of the fire, beginning with the fact that it was not reported until it was "a glow in the sky." "It's not very busy out there," Martinkovic explained. "It wasn't like someone smelled some smoke in the house and called us. It's what we would call a 'full-working fire.'" The Times Herald-Record, the local newspaper that first reported the blaze, described it as "a roaring, smoky fire with blue and orange flames."

Martinkovic said other problems confronting first responders were an ice storm that night, which made the house harder to access, and its construction materials, which made it more susceptible to fire. "There wasn't a lot left for the fire department to save," he said. Contacted by AN, the owner declined to comment.

As the first U.S. project for UN Studio, the house has received lavish attention in the architectural press, and beyond. Aaron Betsky, director of Cincinnati Art Museum who has also written extensively about the firm, called the loss of the Villa NM a tragedy.

"It was especially innovative in the way it traced the cycles of daily life as it looped through space, like a domesticated version of the turbine twist at their Mercedes Benz headquarters," Betsky said fondly. "It's very sad and responded so well to the site like Frank Lloyd Wright crowning the brow of the hill but twisting to take in even more."

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