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.
- East Hampton Building Spurs Controversy (East 27)
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.