Westchester's 14 Best Architects

14 architects who are changing the way the county looks—and lives.



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We searched back through a decade of AIA award winners, and queried its membership along with interior designers, realtors, and builders, on who they thought was the top talent in the county (no fair voting for yourself!). Many of the names were familiar to us, for good reason—we’ve seen their award-winning designs time and time again over the years. But we also were introduced to some terrific new talent as well. We think their work speaks for itself.

MICHAEL GALLIN

Gallin Beeler Design Studio
828 S Broadway, Tarrytown (914) 693-4004  www.gdstudio.com

Gallin renovated the interior and exterior of this Colonial, adhering to local guidelines for historic homes

The airy grand staircase in the Colonial was cut to computerized specs and put together “like a jigsaw puzzle”

In Gallin-designed spaces, such as this modern loft, “nothing is superfluous.”

Cutting-edge technology and materials put Michael Gallin and this young firm on the fast track.
What clients want: “A great kitchen.” Inspired by: “People first. Then nature and technology.” Go-to design tool: “We’re doing a lot of three-dimensional modeling of complex forms or shapes, and matching them to specific projects. We do the 3D modeling in CAD and then give a computer file to a fabricator. You get a level of precision and complexity you’d never be able to get with traditional construction methods. It allows us to do things that we couldn’t even conceive of twenty years ago.” Favorite material: “There’s some great bamboo sheathing that has real environmental advantages. There’s not a project we do that doesn’t have significant consideration on glass. It’s sort of the anti-material; we play with translucency and the layering of different opacities.” Favorite architect: “Renzo Piano. He looks at the super-fine details of things and at the big picture all at the same time.”
 



IRA GRANDBERG

Grandberg & Associates Architects
117 E Main Street, Mount Kisco (914) 242-0033 grandbergarchitects.com

Ira Grandberg excels at designing estate homes and seamless additions.

The Long Island Sound house’s study overlooks all the other rooms of the house and the coastline beyond.

Each side of a custom home, like Round Hill in Greenwich, has “an artistic balance” of dimension and interest.

Architect Ira Grandberg indulged his love of modern design in this residence on Long Island Sound.

The blueprint: “We do a lot of big, very complicated homes. In a custom home, you can walk around any side of the home and it’s an artistic balance. How many developer homes have a great front, and then you look at the sides and the back, and it almost looks like a Western stage set?” What clients want: “Couples want a sense of openness. They want light; they want a sense of flow. We’ve done 15,000-square-foot homes and people will say it’s the most intimate house they’ve ever seen. And that’s the trick. We do not do starter castles.” Smartest move: “We go to builders with our concept designs so there’s no sticker shock later.” Favorite material: “One of my houses has blue-jean insulation made from recycled denim. Inspired by: “My dad. He was a builder when I was growing up in New Rochelle.”

This traditional New England-style coastal home has a look of permanence and history. “We don’t want our houses to show off; we want them to be lived in,” says Grandberg.

An award-winning addition tripled the size of the historic Walter Kirby home in Westport, CT and replicated details like the original chimney pots.

 


Photography by Curtis R. Lew

CAROL CIOPPA

Cioppa Architects LLC
92A Fancher Rd, Pound Ridge (914) 764-1549; cioppaarchitectsllc.blogspot.com

A two-time AIA Award-winner, Carol Cioppa has a flair for transforming humdrum homes.

In Croton, Carol Cioppa transformed a 1960s ugly duckling into a light-filled showplace. She kept the footprint, adding nine feet to one end and a generous second floor, siting the house to take advantage of the Hudson River views. “The property was overgrown when they bought it,” says Cioppa. “Now, everytime I go there it takes my breath away.”

Also in Pound Ridge, she took a bland 1960s ranch and added a front porch and a partial second story for a master suite and offices.

In Pound Ridge, Cioppa created a new hardscape and a sleek outdoor pavilion for a 1950s home.



The blueprint: “My expertise is in turning an old house that has been totally destroyed by bad additions into a jewel. I don’t seem to get projects that are easy to solve.” Notable project: “I was asked to take a simple 1960s ranch in Pound Ridge and add a partial second floor to house a master suite and home offices. This very low-budget project won an AIA Westchester Hudson Valley award. Your client doesn’t have to spend a million dollars to get a good project and have it be recognized as such.” Smartest move: “My clients are my collaborators. I try to make their dreams come true, not my dreams.” Most annoying client: “The one who took almost three months to sign my contract. Then, after the project was done and they raved about how fabulous it was, they decided not to pay me for site supervision and the structural engineer we had agreed to hire.” Favorite architects: “Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier."  Inspired by: “New buildings, interiors, and landscapes. I visit hotel lobbies as well as restaurants. Magazines, too—I get way too many!”


Photography of Carol Kurth headshot, Maplemoor Residence and Five Star House by Peter Krupenye

Photography of the Link House by Albert Vecerka/ESTO


CAROL KURTH

Carol Kurth Architecture, PC & Carol Kurth Interiors, LTD
644 Old Post Rd, Bedford (914) 234-2595; carolkurtharchitects.com

The farmhouse-inspired “Maplemoor” has been called “one of the most beautiful homes in Westchester.”

The award-winning Five Star House (featured on MTV) is “an assemblage of buildings with a historic feel done in a modern way,” using an array of finely hewn natural materials to define space and function.

Kurth worked on the original incarnation of the “Link House” in Pound Ridge in 1983; decades later its new owners asked her to “bring it to the next level” with more space, clear cedar siding, and a new pool area.

"Link House"

 

Carol Kurth, a five-time AIA Award winner, is known for glamorous, impeccably constructed homes that are ready for their close-up.

What clients want: “Comfort." Go-to design tool: “My eye and a Sharpie marker. I can use them to sketch on anything from a napkin to a piece of lumber on a job site.” Favorite material: “The sun. When designing custom homes, we always orient toward the best southern exposure.” Inspired by: “Traveling. I often photograph gates and manhole covers in the places I go. I find those particularly interesting, some ancient and embellished, others utilitarian.” Biggest challenge: “Zoning and wetlands restrictions. The properties that are still around are more and more complicated to develop.”


PAUL SHAINBERG

Paul Shainberg Architects, LLC
43 Purchase St., Rye (914) 967-3474; shainbergarchitects.com

 

A brick Colonial in Harrison got a soaring family-friendly space with a mudroom and three-car garage. “Clients want light and airy, not old and stuffy,” says Shainberg.

A Memphis-born master of the family-friendly addition, Paul Shainberg never met a Tudor he couldn't imporove.

The blueprint: “All I do is residential work, mostly renovations.” Where the work is: “Lower Westchester. We do a lot of work in Harrison; it has a tremendous number of old Tudors. I open them up and add more windows and light.” What clients want: “Young families with lots of kids want that mudroom; they can’t stand the mess. They want the family room and that awesome kitchen/breakfast area.” What clients don’t want: “Living rooms. To me there’s no reason to design spaces that are being used a few hours a year. Everybody wants fireplaces nowadays." Go-to design tool: “I’m a simple Southern boy. I have my big, black felt pens and I sketch. I don’t ever design by the computer.” Toughest clients: “Micromanagers.” Favorite architect: “Robert Stern. Only one employee in my career left me for another architect, and it was Robert Stern. I took that as a compliment.”


Photography by Frederick Charles

STEPHEN TILLY

Stephen Tilly, Architect
22 Elm St, Dobbs Ferry (914) 693-8898 stillyarchitect.com

Stephen Tilly, known for his green designs, gives old buildings a new energy.

Tilly’s update of a Normandy Tudor in Dobbs Ferry included a spectacular Classical revival outdoor area, with a new pool, elevated greenhouse and grotto spa. All the materials are recyclable, natural and locally sourced.



The blueprint: “The common thread in our projects is sustainable green design and historic preservation. Often, we combine the two.” What clients want: “To take advantage of the landscape views and natural light.” Notable project: “The green-renovation and expansion of the YWCA Residence in White Plains, for low-income and disadvantaged women. We like projects where we can bring our design talents to help good causes.” Go-to design tools: “A 6B pencil and yellow tracing paper.” Favorite material: “When I first got out of MIT, I worked as a carpenter, so I really like timbers; any hardwood.” Inspired by: “Running on the Croton Aqueduct and observing the light and shapes of nature.” Favorite building in Westchester: “The Modernist IBM headquarters on Route 9 near Tarrytown. It’s usually all lit up at night. It’s an energy disaster, but I like the building.”


 

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