Hudson Woods - Where Design Meets Nature – Design Meets Nature at Ocean's Edge in New York


As an internal consultant with Lang Architecture, I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with the team on a number of wonderful projects to highlight the extraordinary achievement of bringing the worlds of design and nature together at Hudson Woods. One of the most striking things about working with the group is their sense of excitement and purpose when it comes to creative collaboration - a facet that brings much joy into the process of designing and making great work.

This collaborative approach is something I too have invested in over the last few years. My aim has been realizing a project of a different kind, though one that has many parallels to Hudson Woods. Similarly my project explores culture - what it means to live fully and joyfully. It explores a human relationship with nature, and, like Hudson Woods, it has required both vision and thoughtful collaboration in order to reach towards the highest possible standard of design.

The project is a book about surf culture in New York and New Jersey, called Ice Cream Headaches. After four years’ work, we have just finalized the design and I’m delighted to say the book is now available to pre-order. Unbeknownst to many who live here, and to the throngs of tourists who stop by each year, the beaches of New York and New Jersey are home to a diverse and vibrant coldwater surfing community. Ice Cream Headaches offers a window into this often-overlooked facet of life and leisure in America’s most dense metropolis.

Over several years, whenever we had time, I traveled with my friend and collaborator, photographer Julien Roubinet to meet, photograph and interview some 40 characters who contribute to surf culture in this corner of the coast. We racked up more than 4,000 miles, driving between Montauk, Fire Island, Rockaway, Sandy Hook, Bay Head and Cape May.

We met surfers, surfboard shapers, artists and documentarians of the culture. The list includes New Yorkers like Pulitzer-prize-winning author William Finnegan, world renowned portrait photographer Michael Halsband (who kindly penned a foreword for the book) and professional surfers with global followings such as Quincy Davis, Mikey De Temple and Balaram Stack.

The Hudson Valley community is a colorful one - so too the cast of characters that make their lives on the shores of the Atlantic. In the spirit of exploration and getting beneath the surface, as the Lang Architecture team have done with Hudson Woods, our book highlights the surfers who experiment with new forms, materials, ideas and surfing styles. They are the kind of surfers willing to pull on a thick wetsuit, wade through a foot of snow on the beach and battle 30-mile-per-hour winds, all for a few fleeting moments inside a yawning barrel.

And the name? In spite of our warm wetsuits, in near-freezing water surfers duck-diving under the waves often experience “brain freeze” or “ice cream headaches”. We chose the name to turn this aspect of the New York surf experience inside out and make it relate-able. Everyone knows the feeling - something we simply love, which occasionally gives us a little attitude adjustment!

Ice Cream Headaches is now available to pre-order, along with many beautiful, limited edition, fine art pints. Grab your copy here!