The first residence built in Tuxedo Park, New York, after World War II wasn’t one of the Shingle-style mansions that proliferated there after the tycoon Pierre Lorillard IV developed the village as a high-society retreat in the 1880s. Instead, on 1.3 acres (the garden/tennis court of an old estate), architect Carl Koch, a prefab pioneer, erected one of his earliest “Techbuilt Houses,” a 2,400-square-foot four-bedroom home constructed largely from standardized four-by-eight-foot modules attached to a post-and-beam frame—a simple, efficient and affordable structure that went up in a brisk three weeks in January 1956.
Pictures by Carl Bellavia
The architect Gilles Depardon of Ogawa Depardon Architects, describes Koch’s four-by-eight module (based on the industry standard for a sheet of plywood) as “a sandwich – an outer layer of plywood, an inner layer of Sheetrock, and what they called a foil insulation” – a document written by the house’s original owner describes it as an “aluminum reflective radiant barrier” – which, says the architect, “was falling apart” from neglect. The entire house, he adds, “was a mess,” with much of the interior “too far gone to save – we gutted it.”