Who Owns that?



Some of you know that I sometimes write my blog posts about the continuing education seminars that I attend.  Continuing education is required by New York State (and all other states for that matter) in order to maintain a professional license.  To renew registration as an architect, New York State Education Law requires 36 hours of continuing education (CE) in each three-year registration period. Living on the North Fork of Long Island is somewhat limiting for class opportunities.  Luckily for the East End architects, the AIA Peconic Chapter sponsors monthly dinner meetings with a cocktail hour (yay) to socialize with colleagues, and then a presentation.  Almost all of these meetings are on the South Fork, which adds about 2 hours to my adventure, depending upon the season, but who’s complaining?

Today’s meeting was a presentation by an attorney to explain to the room of architects how the law protects (or doesn’t protect) architects’ design ideas, drawings, intellectual property, etc.  It turns out that it is VERY important for an architect to communicate verbally or in writing to a client that the drawings are the property of the architect.  The client is actually purchasing license from the architect to use the drawings or design for that particular project only, unless the contract specifically states otherwise.

The presentation included a true story of an architect seeing an identical house to one he designed in a nearby town.  Apparantly the owner of the ‘copycat’ house saw the original house, took photographs, went to a contractor who then went to Town Hall and got drawings of the orginal house, and together they built the new house.  Needless to say when the Architect sued the builder and the owner, he won.

There were other stories where it was not as clear as to who was the party with the rights to the design.  Ideas are hard to protect if they are just ideas, and not incorporated into a more concrete drawing or technical specification.

I left the meeting feeling pretty good.  I always put my copyright notice on my drawings, and my agreement with my clients explains clearly whose property the drawings are and how they can be used.  I’m hoping that I never have to worry about someone “stealing” my design and using it for another project in a different location…But then again, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

Stone Yards



Recently I was charged with selecting slabs of stone for kitchen and bathroom countertops and tub decks.  Although we werent looking for anything quite this dramatic, I was struck by the natural beauty of this stone.  It reminds me of an aerial photograph of a wintry ice flow in the arctic.


This is the material we were looking for.  I had to search several different locations to find the number of slabs of the correct thickness we needed.   It is “silver travertine” and it is a “vertical cut.”  The linear pattern is exactly what we were hoping it would be.  I will post some photos of the bathroom once it is complete.

Clarity of Design


I was very excited to learn that the Suffolk Times wanted to do a feature story on me. To read it, click on this Suffolk times article 11.5.15

Now the pressure is on to write more posts!

Mixed Message



Yesterday morning when I got out of my car at 8:30 to walk onto the job site it was unusally quiet.  There were no hammers banging, no power tools whirring and no rock music blaring.  I was there to meet the contractor and together we would plan how to resolve an exterior trim detail.   As I walked past the row of trucks in the driveway, this scene caught my eye.  Tucked in among the coils of extension cords, skill saw and sledgehammer was a potted chrysanthemum.  I was surprised to see the soft, natural mums next to these items of destruction.  I had to share it.

Shed Dormer



I love to use shed dormers to gain head room, air, and light on upper floors.  Using dormers instead of having a full height ceiling can add visual interest to a house both inside and out.   This dormer uses awning windows instead of the typical double hung.  In order to match the construction of the existing house we used exposed rafters for a traditional craftsman detail.

Little Gull Again


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These are some images from the last site visit at the Little Gull project in Greenport.  The first image shows the spray foam insulation.  There is no visible insulation in the ceiling because the roof is made of structural insulated panels, or SIPs.  SIPs are like a sandwich of plywood on the outside, and rigid foam insulation on the inside.  Because there are very few joints between the large panels, and because they are made from high-tech materials, they are commonly used in sustainable construction.

Construction Shots – Little Gull

This sustainably designed house under construction has a timber frame roof in the great room and SIPs panels on the all of the roofs.  SIPs (structural insulated panels) are extremely air tight, well insulated and fabricated to precision off-site. The panels are made from rigid foam insulation sandwiched between strand board.  The ridge beam of this house is engineered lumber and the rafters, which are spaced 8 feet on center, are douglas fir.

This is the rear of the house, which faces south.  The overhang will shade the high summer sun from heating the great room, and will allow the low angled winter rays to penetrate the space.  The view out of the future expanse of sliding doors is of Little Gull in Greenport.
These temporary stairs follow the lines of the final design.  The stairs to the 4 bedrooms will partially open to the great room. They will be ulitmately screened with a wood slat wall that will give visual and spatial division between the public and private areas of the house.  

Teeny Tiny House Renovation

Thank you to my clients-turned-friends Jim Brodsky and Huck Hirsch for sending me this fun video of Jim installing a flush girder along with their contractor Adam West.  Obviously Jim is a really hands on kind of guy on the job site as well as the kitchen (see my previous blog post).  

Architectural Lesson of the Day: Flush girders are structural members that are recessed into the ceiling above to conceal or minimize their visibility at the ceiling line below.  Dropped girders are structural members that sit below the joist at the ceiling.

Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen is the name of one of my favorite food blogs.  Deb Perelman has a beautiful site with delicious, inspiring recipes and stories about her adventures in her tiny NYC galley kitchen.  I love to cook, and I love to read about food, and I especially love to eat.  I’m an architect, however, and you didn’t come here to read about food!  Here’s the point of this post:  

I went to a friend’s birthday party last weekend and met someone who told me that they are renovating their kitchen.  They asked me about contractors I have worked with and spoke of their design ideas.  Then they asked if I had ever worked with Ikea kitchens.  (I have once).  I learned that Ikea has a kitchen event every three years or so.  They auction off the display kitchens including appliances, hardware, inserts, countertops, plumbing fixtures and lighting to the highest bidder.  Well…these folks bid $3200 for an entire kitchen more cabinets than they could ever fit in their kitchen and they won.  What a deal!  Most kitchens cost at least $20,000 with appliances and countertops.  

The above photo is a custom kitchen that I designed for a sweet little cottage in Sag Harbor.   The photo below are squash blossoms that we stuffed with ricotta cheese filling.  After the photo was taken, we dipped the blossoms in a light batter and fried them to crunchy perfection.