Nuanced references to former land-use patterns regularly show up, like apparitions, in Paul Masi’s work, and Stony Hill is no different. The site of the first colonial house built here in 1680, it had once been part of a pastureland with low stone walls used to contain and rotate grazing livestock. The owners loved the feel of the land, Paul says, and its past use led to a scheme that organizes the house as three gabled volumes—public, private, and service/guest area—each with its own landscape character.
Native grasses with different colors and bloom times help to define these zones. High grasses and shrubs provide a visual and acoustical buffer from the road, and eye-level grasses in elevated beds screen the approach, pulling visitors along the entry walk. On arrival, the single-story central volume contains the public spaces. Flanking perpendicular volumes have second stories tucked under steeply pitched roofs. To the right are three kids’ bedrooms and a mudroom on the first floor, with the primary suite, deck, office, and outdoor shower above. The opposite volume, canted toward the pool, contains the garage, mudroom, and powder room below, and a guest suite and screened porch above. Their combined footprint forms a rear courtyard where low grasses and groundcovers open up western views of fields and sunsets. Crisp ridgeline cuts modernize the roof profiles. One notch creates a light well over the stairwell in the guest volume. The other opens the primary suite’s outdoor shower to the sky.
“The tectonic explorations of the house are pretty fantastic,” a judge said, referring to the bluestem thatching packed neatly between exposed exterior framing, evoking pasture grasses. Says Paul: “This was a common, simple building method used many years ago. We got excited about using it in modern ways.” Anticipating that the panels might have to be made in Europe, “we set up the thatching in these bays, and that set up a language and module throughout the house, which is echoed on the stairs and vanities. But we ended up finding a person to do all the thatching on site. On every site visit we were marveling at their tools.” The thatch and paving are carried through the breezeways connecting the volumes, further integrating the house with the land. Shingle siding—scaled up with a 20-inch exposure — is another updated nod to regional vernacular.
The judges applauded the unique architectural vocabulary that translates the history of the land. “It’s clearly a luxurious house, but it’s engaged in an architectural discussion in the way it shows the building and the materials,” a judge said.
Custom Rural or Vacation House
Bates Masi + Architects
Amagansett, New York
Architect: Paul Masi, AIA, principal in charge; project team: Danielle Caylor Farrell, Greg Scherer, Bates Masi + Architects, Sag Harbor, New York
Builder: John Hummel & Associates, East Hampton, New York
Interior designer: JL Hummel Interiors
Project size: 6,300 square feet
Site size: 2.2 acres
Construction cost: Withheld
Photography: Bates Masi + Architects
Entry doors/Windows: Arcadia
Fireplace: Stûv, Earthcore Industries (outdoor)
Lighting control systems: Lutron