Paul Goldberger & Charles Renfro Discuss the Blue Dream House
Blue Dream and the Legacy of Modernism in the Hamptons
By Paul Goldberger
Photographs by Iwan Baan
This is the story of the creation of an astonishing house that renews and reinvigorates the spirit of the avant-garde in the Hamptons. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger tells the story of an extraordinary house on the Atlantic Double Dunes in East Hampton—Blue Dream, the result of a remarkable collaboration between collectors Julie Reyes Taubman and Robert Taubman, who together with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, builder Ed Bulgin, landscape architect Michael Boucher, and designer Michael Lewis, sought to renew the legacy of modernist architecture and art in the Hamptons.
Goldberger offers insight into the complex process by which an architectural idea generated a work that stands as the most striking addition of our time to the roster of architecturally ambitious modernist houses on Long Island. As he notes, “There are relatively few books devoted to the architecture of a single house, but what is clear if you read any of them is that they are stories about clients as much as about architects.” So it is with Blue Dream, where the Taubmans were inspired by the avant-garde spirit of artists and architects who settled and worked in the Hamptons and set out to create a house like no other, a house whose complex curving forms could only be built using the composite material used to make fighter jets.
Iwan Baan’s photographic portfolio documents Blue Dream across four seasons. Goldberger’s text is illustrated with images of earlier modernist houses that inspired the project, as well as documentation of the design process involved in the making of Blue Dream itself.
Paul Goldberger, who The Huffington Post has called “the leading figure in architecture criticism,” is now a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair. From 1997 through 2011 he served as the Architecture Critic for The New Yorker, where he wrote the magazine’s celebrated “Sky Line” column. He is the author of numerous books, including BALLPARK: Baseball in the American City, published in 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf; Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, published in 2015 by Knopf, and also of Building with History, published by Prestel; Why Architecture Matters, published by Yale University Press; Building Up and Tearing Down, a collection of his articles from The New Yorker published by Monacelli; and Christo and Jeanne-Claude, published by Taschen. His latest book, DUMBO: The Making of a Neighborhood and the Rebirth of Brooklyn, was published in 2021 by Rizzoli, and Yale University Press published a new revised edition of Why Architecture Matters in 2023. He also holds the Joseph Urban Chair in Design and Architecture at The New School in New York City and was formerly Dean of the Parsons School of Design at The New School.
He began his career at The New York Times, where in 1984 his architecture criticism was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism, the highest award in journalism. In 2012 he received the Vincent Scully Prize from the National Building Museum in recognition of the influence his writing has had on the public’s understanding of architecture. In 2017, he received the Award in Architecture of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which called him “the doyen of American architectural critics.” He lectures widely around the country on architecture, design, historic preservation, and cities, and has appeared in numerous films and television programs as a commentator on architecture. He served as an advisor on architect selection and project design for numerous non-profit institutions including The Obama Presidential Center, The New York Public Library, The Morgan Library, Harvard University, Lincoln Center, Cornell University, the Carnegie Science Center, The Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Glenstone Museum; for public agencies such as the Empire State Development Corporation, where he advised on the design for the Moynihan Train Hall project in New York City, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he served as an advisor on design matters connected to the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport. He has also advised corporate clients including Google, Sothebys Inc., Tiffany, the Howard Hughes Corporation and the New York Islanders.
He is chairman of the Advisory Council of The Glass House, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Kenyon College. He is also a member of the boards of the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College, the Urban Design Forum, and the New York Stem Cell Foundation, and is an emeritus trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He was married to Susan Solomon, chief executive officer of The New York Stem Cell Foundation, until her death in September 2022. They are the parents of three sons and six grandchildren. He resides in New York City and Amagansett, New York.
Photo: Michael Lionstar
Charles RenfroCharles Renfro is a partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), an interdisciplinary design studio based in New York, responsible for some of the city's most significant urban planning initiatives including the High Line and Lincoln Center. He led the design and construction of the studio’s first concert hall outside of the US - The Tianjin Juilliard School in China - as well as the studio's first public park outside of the US - Zaryadye Park in Moscow. Charles has also led the design of much of DS+R's academic portfolio, with projects completed at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Brown University, the University of Chicago, and the recently completed Columbia Business School. Charles is also leading the design of two projects in his native Texas: the renovation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kalita Humphreys Theater in Dallas, and Sarofim Hall, a new home for Rice University’s Visual Arts department in Houston. Charles is a board member of BOFFO, a nonprofit organization that supports the work of queer LGBTQ+ BIPOC artists and designers, and has twice been recognized with the Out100 list. He is a faculty member of the School of Visual Arts.Photo: Geordie Wood