The raft in the picture at left may be the most unusual craft to be launched since the three wise men of Gotham went to sea in a bowl. It is made of two panels of Alcoa's Alply, which consists of polystyrene foam core sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum and covered with a baked-enamel finish that is guaranteed for 20 years. Alply was developed three years ago for use in refrigerated-truck bodies. Its first-rate insulating qualities soon attracted builders of freezer warehouses and incubators, but it remained for Don Moss, an artist and a sportsman, to adapt the panels to construction of a beach house—not to mention a raft. When Moss, whose drawings of his aluminum-sandwich beach house follow, decided to build on Fire Island, New York, he sought a material that would resist salt water, need little or no maintenance, be well insulated and at the same time lightweight for ease in shipping. The Alply panels fitted these requirements perfectly. They also lent themselves to an architectural plan developed by Moss and Architect Richard Zegler that featured strong horizontals and verticals deliberately emphasized by wooden beams in the Japanese way. Moss used 3,000 square feet of paneling at a materials cost of $5,250.
The 500-square-foot deck (above) is open to the sky and divides the sleeping quarters from the living area. The kitchen is placed well to the right to allow an unobstructed view from the deck straight through the living room to the Fire Island Light The deck, screened from the wind, extends the sunning season into the spring and the fall. On the other side of the deck are three bedrooms and a bath.
The house, its living and sleeping quarters each 20 by 25 feet, is raised 12 feet above the ground, avoiding Fire Island's ubiquitous sand. Sally Moss also asked for and got two showers and storage space 7½ by 10 feet on ground level. The wall panels are cool to the touch, inside and out, and all white except for the deck-screen units, which are a strong sea blue. Alply panels are enameled in 11 colors and come in lengths up to 18 feet and widths up to five. Don chose a 5-by-8 module weighing 45 pounds rather than the builders' standard 4-by-8. This raised the ceilings and also the price, which came to about $15 a square foot.
Moss is shown installing a panel with the help of the builder, Kurt Helm (right). A completely new system devised by Alcoa was used to join the panels: concealed aluminum extrusions connect adjacent panels, which are sealed with neoprene gaskets. Only a fine line is visible, and the joint is watertight at 50 pounds of pressure per square foot.