“The environment, for me, is very important. Thinking about the environment, considering it, looking at it from different angles,” says Maziar Behrooz, whose firm mb_architecture has combined that embrace of local environs in a commitment to community-oriented projects as well as residential works in the Hamptons.
A guest curator at the Parrish Museum of Art and a member of the AIA Peconic, where he served as a past president, Behrooz always has an eye toward evolving his creative process while embracing the artistic history and natural wonders all around him. “I don’t just mean the environment in terms of nature, but when we do a building, the complete environment–the building itself, the land, the neighborhood, the region.”
ON PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE… In the Hamptons, when I first started here, every building was a shingle-style house, back in the 1990s. and I was more interested in contemporary, modern looks. Since then, I just did the modern work, and nowadays modern has become the norm. I find myself in a place where I’m now looking for ways beyond it, and I’m getting very attached to ways of building and design that seem to be more timeless and less about style and trend. They might seem to have things in them that are traditional and yet at the same time they’re new.
ON EAST END INSPIRATION… There are a couple things that come together here that are absolutely unique to the Hamptons. One is the fact that the Hamptons has such an incredible history of art, of artistic creation and architectural creation, so the energy that is there, that somehow sustains the galleries we have there, the artists we have in the area, I feel that’s not something that every small town or coastal town has. And it’s a very high quality of art that we have around us. That is very important. The second thing is the quality of light is also really special. To build in this environment, where we have the open sky and views of the ocean and the way the light bounces off both sides of the island, that’s really wonderful. The third thing for me is the quality of our builders. We can build buildings here incredibly well, whether the budgets are small or high. We have some incredible builders, so we can execute pretty much anything that comes to mind. And lastly, there are people who here or live here who seem very open to experimenting with ideas and ways of inhabiting a space that’s not like grandma’s house. That also makes it very unique.
ON THE PURSUIT OF IMPERFECTION… I recall a client of mine, a couple, and we met over a good year-long period, regularly. And the husband would hardly say much, other than nod and give complimentary words here and there. One day he asked to come see me by himself, and he came in and we sat there for about two hours and I just kept discussing the project more and more, and he still wouldn’t say anything. And on the way out, almost, he said, “I think you should introduce a mistake.” And that just absolutely floored me. What does he mean by that? I’ve made this building as perfect as can be. I pondered that for a long time, and I really got to absorb the sentiment, which is that imperfection is welcome. When things are absolutely perfect, they become sterile. But a house has warmth because there are imperfections. That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.