Art and Surf in Montauk - Design Bureau

Art and Surf in Montauk

Friday, December 9th, 2011

 According to Steven Harris, each project is a chance to resist “an everquickening cycle of consumption,” to avoid creating a trendy, expendable building that he likens to “this season’s frock.” 

His key to escaping the cycle is, for lack of a better word, boring. “We looked at the way people lived in the most mundane way, trying to build up an architecture based on routine, on the everyday,” Harris says. By considering minutiae of daily activity, Harris creates customized living spaces that are highly functional, an approach that came to fruition in his design for the Art and Surf Residence in Montauk, Long Island.

The house’s design smartly and efficiently divides the living quarters into separate entities: the main house with the master bedroom, kitchen, dining and living room; and a second structure, which houses three guest rooms and the garage. A garden acts as the social hub of Harris’ plans, positioned between the two buildings. But the true focal point is the ocean view, which is served by sliding glass panels and an open floor plan. Both the sea breeze and foot traffic can come and go as they please, in true alfresco style.

Ultimately, the classic conflation of indoor and outdoor spaces and the symbiotic relationship of “boring” and luxurious coalesce in a sensible beach house that—like its location—will never go out of style. 

About the Architect:

When Steven Harris was eight years old, he told his aunt that he wanted to be an architect when he grew up. Her response wasn’t exactly as supportive as one might have expected. “That’s great,” she replied. “But architecture is just a language; it won’t teach you what to say. It might teach you how to say it, but first figure out what you want to say.” 

Taking his aunt’s words to heart, he put his plan on hold long enough to obtain an undergraduate degree in philosophy from the New College in Florida before attending the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design for his bachelor of fine arts. More than three decades later, Harris, 61, is the founder and principal of one of New York’s more sought-after firms, which he runs with the help of his long-time partner, interior designer Lucien Rees Roberts. He is also an educator, and has been teaching architecture as long he has been practicing it. Harris’ lecture circuit has included stints at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, where he is currently a professor of architecture.

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