November 30, 2017 / Luxury Lifestyle

Inside the Mind of Architect Paul Masi of Bates Masi

Paul Masi's research-driven approach has resulted in his East Hampton firm, Bates Masi + Architects, garnering a huge array of awards and commendations

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Paul Masi joined the Bates practice in 1998. Since then, Bates Masi + Architects has been the recipient of countless awards. In 2017 alone, these included the AIA Long Island Archi Award Commendation for two different single-family homes. Here Masi, who studied at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, talks about his influences, how he collaborates with clients, and his favorite projects.

Paul Masi: “As a young child I saw first-hand how your experience of living could be changed by the environment you’re living in.” Photograph: Bill Cramer © 2006 Wonderful Machine Inc. Banner image: The single-family home Promised Land. Photograph: Courtesy of Bates Masi + ArchitectsTell us about your first encounters with architecture…
Growing up I spent a lot of time on the East End [of Long Island] and was exposed to quality architecture. One of my parents’ friends built a unique home, and as a young child I saw how your experience of living could be changed by the environment you’re living in. 

What was your childhood ambition?
It was always something to do with being engaged with our surroundings and exploring the world we live in.

With Promised Land in Amagansett, New York, built for a family of keen sailors, Bates Masi ensured that wind direction was integral to the design. Photograph: Courtesy of Bates Masi + ArchitectsYou’ve been quoted as aiming to “enrich lives and enhance the environment” with your buildings…
That is really why people hire us: to design a home that will allow them to live a better life through the architecture and its connection to who they are, the way they live, and the way they engage with the environment. It's what I've been doing for more than 20 of the 50-plus years Bates Masi + Architects has been on Long Island

Vacation home Mothersill, in Water Mill, New York, utilizes a boardwalk to weave together a historic site with new building and landscape elements. Photograph: Courtesy of Bates Masi + ArchitectsHow do you begin work on a project?
We get to know the client, analyze the property, and research the culture and history of the place, all in an effort to avoid a preconceived notion of what it should be. We tell our clients we are designing a home for them, not us. The more input they provide, the more successful it will be. 

People hire us to design a home that will allow them to live a better life through the architecture

Which projects are you most proud of?
In each project, there is an essence that we are very proud of. What is significant to me is my own home, because I live there and experience it every day.

What unites your work?
Our attention to detail and the unique narrative of each project. 

Large windows frame the lush landscape that surrounds Mothersill, such as a yew garden, serpentine yew hedge, and more than 400,000 Siberian irises. Photograph: Courtesy of Bates Masi + ArchitectsWhich materials do you revisit time after time?
Mostly natural materials. Wood is a particular favorite—each piece is unique and people have an innate connection with it. 

Is there a Bates Masi style?
I’d say our firm is focused more on craft than a single style. 

Acoustics were key at Elizabeth II, in Amangansett, New York, where insulated concrete walls lead to low sound transmission. Courtesy of Bates Masi + ArchitectsWhat projects are you currently working on?
Current projects include houses in New York state: Sands Point, Southampton, and Montauk; as well as Tenafly, New Jersey and Annapolis, Maryland.

How is technology changing the way you work? 
Technology is a great tool. It allows us to really push materials and fabrication further, but it does not drive our design—it is simply a sharper knife. 

A nearby life-saving station informed Atlantic, which earned an AIA Long Island Archi Award Commendation. It features an exposed steel structure from which other functions are hung, such as light fixtures. Courtesy of Bates Masi + ArchitectsWhat does “home” mean to you? 
Anywhere where you can achieve a sense of peace with your family. 

Tell us about your dream commission…
Honestly, I am working on them every day in the office. This is where we always wanted to be. Each property we work with is unique and each client values design as much as we do.

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