James Merrell Architects P.C.

James Merrell Architects P.C.

Sag Harbor



Featured in Architectural Digest - June 2019 issue


“History is not what happened in the past. History is the sense we make of past facts TODAY.” Jorge Gleiter

For 21st century architects, projects in historical neighborhoods can present a dilemma. Some prefer to mimic those historic styles, while others will remain true to their modernist training. But our view is different. We view Modernism, which is now almost a century old, as another historical style. And this frees us to interweave aspects of both the “traditional” and “modern” into our own singular compositions.  

In this project, which came to us with “traditional” architectural covenants attached, we celebrated this new freedom. First, we honored the historical houses nearby by employing gabled rooflines, dormers, and divided-double-hung windows. Yet, at the same time we did not shy away from undivided, floor to ceiling glass walls on the ground floor. And we replaced the traditional siding of cedar shingles with the more “plastic” white stucco.

Exercising the same freedom on the interior, our main spaces are as transparent to the landscape as any modern house and, from the unornamented ceilings to the steel-slatted stairs our detailing is kept minimal. But the natural wood doors and window casings are not without decorative expression. In the end, our intention was to create a respectful contrast, or tension, between these two architectural traditions. If we were successful, this house should be difficult to categorize as a member of either one. And if we are lucky, it should remain fresh, even “timeless,” for decades to come. 

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Status: Built
Location: Southampton, NY, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Interiors: Kelly Behun Studio
Landscape: Hollandar Design
Builder: Kean Development