Hilltop House

Mercer County, New Jersey

A modern luxury villa situated atop the Princeton Ridge in Mercer County, New Jersey, the Hilltop House is conceptualized as an entertainment house woven into a private retreat. The design uses materials and volumes to form public spaces and strategically connect or shield them from more personal ones.

The house is designed as two separate structures joined in the middle by a 30-foot-long glass-pavilion, which acts as the project’s fulcrum. The glass pavilion both connects the two main volumes and bisects the void between them into a front garden court and back entertaining court. The entire assemblage is collected behind a large monolithic brick wall with a single cutaway that frames and identifies entry into the front court garden.

The primary house features an open plan with kitchen, dining and living room immediately adjacent and accessible to the back entertainment court through a system of large operable sliding glass partitions. A dedicated work suite with private office and meeting room connects to the front garden with its own entrance foyer. Second floor bedrooms and a private family room face away from the public courtyards and are shielded by a large hanging wood screen. A private deck on the roof of the glass pavilion provides a private outdoor space with views and access via an exterior stair down to the courtyards below. The secondary, single-story structure includes a fitness room and a separate accessory dwelling unit with dedicated living and kitchen facilities.

Monolithic brick walls are deployed as hard barriers to cordon off more private programs, whereas wood slat screen walls with punched windows function as filters to allow one-way viewing. Large operable glass and metal facades connect spaces visually and allow flexibility for their joining.