Top Navigation

ML: 132 North Main Street: Modern Green Controversy in East Hampton

An interesting battle is brewing on Long Island over the place of modern green architecture on Main Street. Over 500 people have signed a petition to protest what would be an extremely modern, green, and LEED-certified office building in East Hampton. The two-story, rectangular structure would include office space for its co-developers- architect Paul Masi and his firm, Bates Masi Architects, and attorney Jonathan Tarbet.

The front of the 4673-square-foot building- designed by Mr. Masi- features large glass windows with the rest of the façade on the sides clad with cedar shingles. Masi and Tarbet’s offices would be located on the second floor, with retail space on the ground floor. The entire project would be built on a site that is a little over one half acre large and replace an existing house currently being used as office space. Green features would include a geothermal heating and cooling system, a flat green roof with local vegetation, and a pervious stone parking lot.

Mr. Masi’s design for the structure has already won two awards from both AIA and USGBC, but opponents believe that the building’s modern design will not fit in with the character of the surrounding neighborhood. They point to the 250-year old Jonathan Barnes-Selah Lester House across the street, which is being renovated by the town of East Hampton. Attorney Jeffrey Bragman who represents the opponents claims that the town’s planning board is “supposed to deny designs that are excessively dissimilar to the design of East Hampton.” According to Mr. Bragman, the matter “is not about whether you like the proposed building, it’s not about whether you favor change or about whether the building is green, it’s about standards and codes that [the planning board] has to apply.” Bragman called the building “phony” and “Disneyland-type” and exhorted Mr. Masi to return to a traditional colonial and rural architectural vernacular for the project.

The fact that the building is slated for such a visible location is precisely the reason why it should get built as conceived by Mr. Masi. For example, like it or not, many people in Manhattan know something about green construction because of the highly-visible location of the Hearst Tower on West 57th Street. It’s important for green buildings to be distinctive pieces of architecture and 132 North Main Street has the opportunity to be just that. I’m curious how this dispute will play out; it could have some interesting repercussions for other modern green projects moving forward.

ML is short for our weekly Monday LEEDoff™ column, which typically profiles a different LEED project generally in (but not limited to) the New York City area. You can access an archive of profiled projects via this link.

, , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to ML: 132 North Main Street: Modern Green Controversy in East Hampton

  1. Paul McGinniss November 24, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    Hi Steve,

    Having grown up in Sag Harbor and spent many a day in the beautiful Village of East Hampton I have to say that I disagree with what you say about the green controversy in East Hampton. I agree with the attorney of East Hampton. I love modern architecture, and unlike the East Hampton attorney, do not consider the building a “phony or Disneyland type.” However, if the East Hampton Town planning board has a mission to approve projects with “traditional colonial and rural architectural vernacular” that fits into the surrounding area then that is what should be built there. A green building doesn’t also have to be a modern architectural statement.

    Maybe if the developers really wanted to make a really green statement they would propose a LEED building that would use geothermal energy, have a green roof of some sort and use pervious concrete, but still fit into the special character of the neighborhood. Building something that makes a “green statement” and also pisses off so many people in the community is inherently contradictory to what being green is really all about in the first place: living harmoniously with the surrounding community and environment.

  2. michael November 24, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    the building is just not a pleasing one for that area.
    do not care about how green it is . i have to look at it everytimei go by. east hampton is an old wonderful village why do we have to spoil it.
    if most people do not like it then why put it there .

  3. Stephen November 26, 2008 at 8:54 pm #

    Paul, Michael, thank you for sharing your insights. I have long been an advocate here at gbNYC of designing sustainable buildings that are both (1) highly efficient in terms of performance and (2) simultaneously interesting pieces of architecture. As somebody that grew up in the New Jersey suburbs, I am well aware of the opposition that a design such as Mr. Masi’s can engender, and perhaps I was a bit aloof in suggesting that the concerns of local residents should simply be ignored. However, when it comes to making a dramatic statement about green architecture versus simply tacking green features onto something more conservative, I think the former should win out.

Leave a Reply