APPROACH

DESIGN

TIMELESS

  • Good architecture is as engaging years after it is built as when it was completed.
  • Architecture should transcend “trendy”.

OLD AND NEW

  • Old and new styles can be juxtaposed.
  • The best attributes of modern (light, air, and engagement with landscape) can be combined with the best of traditional (warm, cozy, comfortable with patina) in a synthetic whole.
  • Authentic old with patina or reinterpreted traditional is preferred over simulated “historic”.

RIGOR

  • Rigor and editing establish the essence of the intent and leads to better design.
  • It is best to accomplish the most with the least means.
  • Design should have intellectual rigor, meaning and content.
  • Design should connect to a broader discourse on architecture.

TECHNOLOGY

  • New fabrication techniques (computer milling, laser cutting) provide opportunities for craft, precision and high level of detail.
  • Sophisticated engineering is often behind design solutions.

QUALITY NOT QUANTITY

  • Every project should be exquisite and original.  Each MHA project has been published, some widely, and professionally recognized.

INNOVATION

  • The best solutions are unique to the site, space and client.
  • The best designs “learn from” clients and contexts.
  • Projects should express individual image of home without applying a signature style.
  • Every project should test a different design idea, method or technical challenge.

FORM AND IMAGE

  • Design is not based on a preconceived idea or image.
  • Form and style emerge from thorough analysis and design exploration.

COLOR

  • Using color and eclectic mixes of styles, textures and patterns is an art.
  • All beige is bland.

SCALE

  • The best design works from inside out and outside in.
  • A doorknob and door swing should inform the architecture as much as the site and context.
  • The best design mediates the scale of architecture with the smallest detail.

CONTEXT

  • A house in Beverly Hills should not look like a house in Hamptons.
  • A School in New Haven should not look like a house in the Hamptons.
  • It is fine to experiment stylistically on flag lot, but not necessarily responsible to experiment on a historic Village Lane.
  • Context should be analyzed and respected.

HISTORY

  • Extensive knowledge of and respect for architectural history informs intelligent design.

SITE

  • Site plans can be approached as urban design.
  • The space between structures creates defined outdoor rooms.
  • Architecture is best when it is seamless with the landscape.
  • The standard suburban model of the house in the middle of a property with conventional front and back yards should be constantly challenged.

SUSTAINABLE

  • Achieving “Green” is not just specifying green materials or using solar panels.
  • Thinking globally about how material is used efficiently, where it comes from, how much energy is used in its fabrication and transportation, and sensible use of building materials contributes more.
  • Often the most “green” decision is to renovate not tear down, unless operating costs and energy use has more environmental cost.
  • Architecture is sustainable if it is timeless and durable stylistically over time.


PROCESS

SMALL IS BIG

  • MHA limits the amount of work in the office at any one time to ensure full attention to detail, quality of design and efficiency of process.
  • Every layer of administrative infrastructure adds time and loss in translation.
  • MHA does not compromise the direct involvement in the artistic creation.

ANALYSIS

  • Unique sets of analytical tools and techniques reveal client needs and desires and communicate design ideas through precedents, comparisons, diagrams and mock ups (from details to entire houses with furniture).

COLLABORATION

  • Each project is the result of collaboration with the client.
  • The work responds to each client’s tastes and interests and the project’s site and context without imposing a specific design agenda or style.
  • There is often as much to learn from clients as they learn from us.

ADMINISTRATION

  • Project administration is as important as design.
  • MHA is known in the Hamptons for obtaining zoning and environmental approvals in record time with the highest quality submittals.
  • MHA is known in the City for submitting the best Coop Board packages, and success with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

MORE CAN BE LESS

  • The project schedule and administration is a design problem that benefits from synthetic thinking that analyzes many independent variables.  Well designed processes can lead to less time for execution.

ECONOMY

  • Smart design is valued.
  • Wasteful and unnecessarily expensive projects are not rigorous; they are “lazy”.
  • Rigorous, edited designs and simple forms are more economical to build.
  • Budgets and economy do not preclude good design.
  • Every design decision should factor cost and schedule.

INFORMED DECISION-MAKING

  • There is never one solution and many design alternatives should be studied.
  • The best way for any client to make an informed decision is to be clearly presented the comprehensive range of options and the implications of each decision on other aspects of the project.
  • Once all of the factors are presented and the client is fully informed, decisions can be made quickly, thoughtfully and confidently.

CIVICS

  • All architects have a civic responsibility to the public realm.