LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Hampton's All Stars


An extraordinary building project in the Hamptons convokes the great talents of architecture today.

With no less than three Pulitzer Prize winning architects on board, Harry Brown's Houses at Sagaponac are set to stand as a landmark example of 21st century architecture.

The project list reads like a who's who of architecture. Imagine living in a home designed by American architects Stan Allen or Henry Cobb, or perhaps a culturally-inspired haven by Award-winning architect Carlos Jimenez? Along with its illustrious social scene and thriving cultural community, the Hamptons – New York's elite upstate enclave - boasts a time-honored history of architectural infamy, from the Shingle chic Victorian beach homes of the early 20th century, to the vast mansions that have lured East Coast society for over a century. The blueprints alone for the Hamptons' groundbreaking Houses at Sagaponac project are a veritable document of architectural brilliance, but when the final residence opens its doors in 2011, this suburban development undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the finest assemblages of architecture of the 21st century.

When real estate investor Harry 'Coco' Brown announced the development of 37 Hampton homes, designed by world leading architects, including Shigeru Ban, Michael Graves, Richard Gluckman, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl and Philip Johnson in 2000, the inevitable first question was "How could one achieve such an all-star assembly?" With the help of one of America's greatest living architects, Richard Meier leading the project, this was an opportunity that no architect could, or indeed would, pass up. "Richard Meier chose all the architects, because for Harry Brown he was like the gallery owner and Richard Meier was in essence the curator" says Nilay Oza of Reinhardt & O'Brien Contracting, the contractors leading the unique project.

Inspired by the warmth and informality of the rustic Shingle homes and artist studios of the 1960s, Brown's brief was to create modest homes not exceeding 4,500 square feet - a reaction against the behemothic Mcmansions that dominate the affluent resort towns within the region. Set within a subdivided, wooded 100-acre area and just three miles from the beach between Bridgehampton and Sagaponack a harmony between each home and its surroundings was of equal importance, as was an emphasis on ecological sustainability.

Over the years the project has suffered setbacks, in particular the death of Brown in November 2005, which left the project hanging in the balance "After Mr Brown passed away his company looked to sell off the project. In March of last year it changed hands, so the company is no longer owned by Brown's company, but by a partnership of three entities: Reinhardt and O'Brien, Millenium Partners and David Hamamoto a real estate investor who is personally interested in doing this. There is a lot more money with this new group" says Oza.

The initial plan has been scaled down to 32 of which seven have been completed, and five have already been sold, including the Shigeru Ban/Dean Maltz' collaboration, and those of renowned female architects, Annabelle Selldorf and the New York-
based, Hariri sisters. Currently completed and on the market is the beautifully architecturally inclined, yet informal, wood-clad Stan Allen house. Works in progress include the 1.35 acre, three bedroom Lindy Roy house - the youngest architect of the line-up - and Brown's personal favourite, Mockbee House, designed by the late Samuel Mockbee in 2001, which Oza believes will be the most momentous design within this astounding portfolio; no mean feat considering Mockbee's work will stand alongside no less than three Pritzker prize winners (Richard Rogers, Richard Meier and Zaha Hadid) when the projected is finally completed.

Though Brown's dream did not call for trophy houses, it is inevitable considering the glittering roster of talent. Whether the new money will forsake their beachside mock Victorian castles in favor of modernist elegance and architectural cache remains to be seen, but, like California's 1950s Case Study Houses and Studdgart's Weissenhof estate, Brown's legacy will go down in history as an epitome of architectural excellence.

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For sales inquiries contact Billy O'Neil at Sothebys Realty

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