Eclipse Townhouse by
Alexander Gorlin Architects

This townhouse facing the public square of Ruskin Place reflects a concern with concepts of facade, public and private space, sectional space, and hieratic vertical circulation.  A strict building and zoning code in seaside limits the height and setbacks of the houses to insure that each defers to the urban fabric. Although the exterior is fundamentally classical in conception, based on a tripartite Italian palazzo scheme, it exhibits a modernist emphasis on flat, planar surfaces and simplified forms, with an industrial-type interpretation of a cornice in galvanized steel. The interior space is modern, with a double-height living area behind the three, twelve-foot-high French doors set between two columns on the facade.  An open stair that recalls Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase winds around a central pier uniting the ground floor with the rooftop office.  This processional stair, which also acts as a skylight, emerges from the darker, compressed area of the lower level into the high space of the living room and onto the roof deck, finally revealing a view of the Gulf of Mexico.  In contrast to the flatness of the townhouse’s monumental facade on Ruskin Place, the rear of the building breaks down into a series of stepped blocks facing the town’s smaller houses.

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