Anyone who has driven down one of the bucolic lanes in Sagaponack can see it. A virtual explosion of plywood, concrete, balled trees, dumpsters, and piles of soil off to the side of properties, lying in wait for final grading. The roads are streaked with dirt, and the sounds of construction boom across the fields.
The size, scale, and quantity of residential building sites are mind-blowing, even for an architect, who can, at least at times, revel in such creativity. Having a modest project in Sagaponack has led me to Town Line Road and Daniel’s Lane, where there is a palpable feeling of power, energy, and the mighty force of those who, despite the economic meltdown, landed at the top of the heap.
Wall Street and hedge fund titans and real estate speculators have set their sights on Sagg. Its peaceful vistas, dotted with houses in the historic farm vernacular, are now sprinkled with strawberry-pink Corian above-ground pools, Middle Eastern follies, and imported stone edifices. Change has provided steady work for a vast number of tradespeople, architects, designers, landscape architects, engineers, and any possible specialty construction/design service available.
The Sagaponack Village Building Department and Zoning Board see some of the most extraordinary manifestations in architecture today. It is fascinating to watch those involved gracefully try to balance the heritage of the village and the right to freedom of expression.
The signage is so rampant (full disclosure: I have one up as well) that a sign law (perhaps slightly less stringent than East Hampton Village’s) must be on the horizon. In the words of Lady Bird Johnson, “Public feeling is going to bring about regulation so you don’t have a solid diet of billboards on all the roads.”
Months ago, I listened to a description of plans for light posts at the end of a long driveway, at the end of a private street. The posts, as presented, were large enough to fit a person inside them. I couldn’t help but wonder if the homeowners were going to station guards there.
The East End, for an architect, is a series of never-ending fascinations of architectural philosophy — and psychology.
Erica Broberg Smith is a practicing architect in East Hampton. She also likes taking photos.