Seeing a project through from concept to completion can be hard magic for an architect. A client comes in with an idea or a sketch. From there, the architect has to figure out if it’s feasible, what materials to use, building and zoning code requirements, how long it will take to finish and how much it will cost, all the while hoping the client keeps nodding in agreement.
Even then, they may find themselves facing unanticipated or new construction demands and, of course, time constraints.
Many of those conflicts are reflected by entries in the 52nd annual Archi Awards, an event sponsored by the Long Island Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The group acknowledges exemplary design projects built on Long Island and/or designed by Long Island architects around the globe.
Here are six Archi submissions, along with tales of their project struggles. Several on the shore, for instance, had to meet stringent construction standards to withstand another Sandy-like onslaught. “Elevation requirements and lifting a home out of the ground while keeping its aesthetics is a challenge in itself,” says AIA Long Island Chapter president Joe Iannucci.
Despite being constrained by a narrow lot, nearby wetlands, a coastal erosion hazard area and flood zone requirements, the designers knew they had to keep one objective in mind when they came up with their plan for the New Beach House in East Quogue. A view of the water.
“That was crucial,” says a spokesman for H2H LLC, an architectural firm in Elmsford, New York, that designed the three-level structure.
The home recently received an Archi commendation. It is on the market for $19.95 million.
Situated on Dune Road between the Atlantic Ocean and Shinnecock Bay, the home includes everything from a two-story glass wall on the front of the house facing the bay to special dormer windows for the five second-floor guest bedrooms — each of which gets a multi-directional water view. The top floor terrace, with includes an outdoor kitchen, provides a 360-degree vista.
Inside, the home flows from an interior entertainment area with a kitchen, dining and living room to a deck on the front with a swimming pool facing the sea. Stucco and natural woods were used to help the structure blend in with its beach surroundings. Energy efficient components such as solar panels, continuous insulation and automated lighting also were added.
Viola Rouhani had a challenge on her hands when she was hired to build a home in Sagaponack. The residence had to follow an existing footprint and be designed to avoid an adverse environmental impact on indigenous vegetation in a nearby wetland.
The first move to secure the home was to place it on pilings and concrete. The entire house is designed with a steel superstructure hardy enough to withstand hurricane-strength winds. Upper levels were made accessible by stairs both inside and out.
The home's architect, Viola Rouhani, received an Archi Commendation.
Being in a FEMA flood zone, it also had to be strong enough to withstand possible heavy wave action.
Stucco breakaway walls were installed on the lower level so water could flow through in case of a storm. It also turned out to be a great surfboard and sailboat storage area for the owner, an outdoor enthusiast who loves the water, says Rouhani, a partner at Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects.
Called Seascape, the home is in Sagaponack.
Adjacent to the main house is an elevated pool house and swimming pool.
Both structures, along with their decks, are totally clad in teak, which is not only durable but develops a gray patina as it weathers, in keeping with the nature theme.
East Atlantic Beach
Architect Charles R. Schwartzapfel, who owns his own architectural firm, thought he was going to be working on a fairly straightforward project four years ago when he began planning the renovation of a midcentury cottage on the ocean in East Atlantic Beach. Then hurricane Sandy came along and blew away everyone’s plans. By the time the storm stopped, the home had sustained so much damage it was condemned and knocked down. Time for another plan.
FEMA regulations require that new structures be much more stable — strong enough, in fact, to sustain being hit by another house, something that actually happened to homes in some areas. To meet the new standards, Schwartzapfel designed a steel frame superstructure supported by 117 pilings and 185 cubic yards of concrete.
He added features such as breakaway walls, Jerusalem limestone fireplaces and dense Brazilian hardwoods to make it storm-worthy.
Visitors have remarked that the finished product looks a bit like an oceangoing vessel resting against the shore. Schwartzapfel says he doesn’t think that’s a bad comparison. “When you’re there, it feels like you’re on the bow of a ship because all you see in front of you is the ocean,” he says.
All of the visible metalwork is made of marine-grade stainless steel.
Shay Alster knew he was living on the edge when he bought a vacation home 10 years ago on Sound Beach. Literally, the edge: The original 1974 three-bedroom ranch house on the property was perched 85 feet above sea level and just 20 feet from a bluff with panoramic views of Long Island Sound.
That was the good news. The bad was that its unique position made it especially vulnerable to erosion. Construction began in phases to make sure the progress was stable enough to build on. “We had to approach it step by step,” says Alster, a principal at GF55 Architects.
His solution was to add bulkheads and retaining walls up and down the bluff to withstand the pounding of nor’easters. The area then was replanted and anchored with foliage. The lot on top of the bluff was slanted landward to the south so water flowed away from the edge. Rainwater collected through gutters was redirected by pipes to an in-ground, Flo-Well dry well also located away from the bluff.
For years, anyone passing the square, no-nonsense home at 180 Main St. in Roslyn could immediately see it had historical significance. The trouble was it attracted attention for the wrong reasons.
“It stood out because it was in pretty bad shape,” says Giulia Chiarlitti, senior designer at DHMurray Architecture. She and the firm’s project manager, John DePaulo, had their eyes on the structure for some time.
That’s why she and DePaulo were especially pleased to get a call from the owner to get it back into historical shape. Built in 1863 and occupying a noticeable position in the Roslyn Historical District, the home originally was a church that burned. Afterward, it was modified and turned into a residence with a much different footprint. The owner stressed that he wanted its historical background preserved all the way down to the kind of shingles used.
DePaulo and Chiarlitti documented its details with “surgical” measurements of things like the home’s windows, shutters and porch columns before starting to bring it back to life. DePaulo says that during the rebuilding they learned to appreciate the original builders’ craftsmanship, such as the way they tucked the home and its detached red barn into a hill buttressed with a stone wall. “These are structures you just don’t see anymore,” he said.
It seemed like a simple enough concept. The owners of a 3-acre estate in Sands Point with extensive views of Long Island Sound wanted to build a cabana beside their pool. But they also hoped it would match the home’s traditional aesthetic. And they wanted it to be versatile enough to provide storage space and a changing area for swimmers, as well as protection from the sun.
“We’ve always been interested in what we call contextual contradictions,” says John Patrick Winberry, a partner in the UP studio, a boutique architecture and design hired to solve the problem. “We love it when a modern piece plays off a more traditional piece.”
Their concept allowed him and his partner, Adam Wanaselja, to push the limits of the design. Instead of building two structures, they created a single entity that took care of both storage and swimming pool guests in a combined space with separate areas.
Then they added a cantilevered steel roof that could extend out to restrict the noonday sun but did not require supporting columns that would ruin the vista. The result is a modernistic, open-looking pool house with everything desired, including a bathroom, a changing area and an outdoor shower from which they can gaze at the Sound whenever they wish.