Once upon a time people may have been upset by the disappearance of old Southampton homes on the beach for one reason or another and I can sympathize, but I happen to like that the styles now vary widely on the dunes. Yes, there are some pretty ugly ones out there, but there are some wonderful pieces of art/architecture too. Some people can’t understand how I can be such an extreme contextualist within the village proper and yet love the expressions of more contemporary styles on very large parcels or along the ocean. It’s not that I’m against contemporary architecture anywhere in the village, I just don’t often see anything I consider to be of a high quality. And along the ocean and on larger lots, it’s easier to be sculptural and therefore more open-minded. When a contemporary interpretation of a traditional house arises on an acre lot or smaller it’s much less likely that it will be sensitive to its surrounding; it’s a much more difficult design.
But I digress. Back to the amazing house at 210 Meadow Lane.
Norman Jaffe (1932-1993) was born in Chicago to poor immigrant parents. After serving in the military abroad, he studied architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later transferred to the University of California at Berkeley. He studied afterward at the Art Student League of New York and the Art Institute of Chicago. Afterwards he worked for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Phillip Johnson. In 1973 Jaffe moved to Bridgehampton (like many of us, after visiting a lot) and opened an architectural firm there. He has designed more than 50 houses in the Hamptons, many of which were built and still survive. In 1991 he was made a Fellow of the AIA and reported to be making a cool half-million in design fees. In August of 1993 he took a swim and never returned.
I once studied with someone that worked for him, who now works on Shelter Island and who has absolutely no recollection of me for reasons I will not proclaim. For the record though, I am not easily forgotten.
Jaffe’s architecture is inspiring and timeless. Again, there is a lot of information out there about him, on the internet, in books, even his son Miles continues to practice architecture, art, and other disciplines in Bridgehampton. Do a Google search to learn and see more.