Condos With a (Bow) Wow Factor

14-year-old got 11 prominent architects to design dog, cat houses for ARF
Luke Louchheim, 14, next to his Alpha Dog house, designed and built for his arfITECTURE project, 10 houses available for auction to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. Tria Giovan

When Luke Louchheim made an appointment with Maude Adams of Artisan Construction Associates of Water Mill to discuss his proposal to build cat and dog “condos” to raise money for the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, Ms. Adams knew Luke was a student. 

“I just had no idea he was in junior high,” she said. “But Luke walked in and he had this whole presentation with binders, a brief, his thoughts, and photos about some things he was thinking of, what type of things he was looking for. I have to tell you, I was amazingly impressed. The other thing was, he came to us well before the deadline — which is rare for architects.” 

The deadline to which Ms. Adams referred was for the submission of doghouses for auction at ARF’s annual Bow Wow Meow Ball, which will take place on Aug. 18. “My immediate response was, ‘I want to hire him,’ ” Ms. Adams said with a laugh. But that will have to wait.

Luke is 14 years old and a rising freshman at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor. The “arfITECTURE” project the young Sagaponack resident conceived and shepherded from conception to completion during the last 10 months won cooperation from 18 prominent architects and builders, as well as the gratitude of the staff at ARF, which raises money for the rescue, care, and adoption of animals. Photos of Luke’s entire arfITECTURE project appear on ARF’s website, arfhamptons.org, and advance bidding is available online. 

“For him to be able to pull all of that together, he’s quite an impressive young man,” Jennifer DiClemente, ARF’s director of development, said this week. Luke, however, was modest about his efforts. He began actively pursuing his interest in architecture three years ago by arranging for tutoring with Emelia Steelman of Martin Architects in Sagaponack. He came up with the doghouse project, he said, as a way to blend his interest in architecture with a desire to help ARF. Luke’s family has two dogs, Sam, a pit bull-Chihuahua mix, and Buttercup, an English bulldog mix, both of whom were adopted from the nonprofit agency. 

“I was thinking about what I wanted to do when I was older, and I thought architecture,” Luke said. “When I was being tutored I had to model Philip Johnson’s Glass House. I also like Andrew Geller’s Long Island beach house designs, too, since they’re so simple. I started drafting and drawing things. Then it was on to learning the computer programs. I’m still learning them.”

One of Luke’s designs, an A-frame house with a slatted roof that he called “Alpha Dog” and built with his father, Joseph Louchheim, is among the nine doghouses and one cat perch up for auction. There’s also a striking mirrored doghouse called “Snoop E(nigma),” which was designed by Bill Beeton of Beeton and Company and built by Landscape Details. “I just love it because it disappears into the landscape,” Luke said. 

Kitty McCoy of Kathrine McCoy Architecture and Walter Sterlieb of Studio 449 collaborated on the most elaborate structure being auctioned, a cupola-topped doghouse with latticework sides and chinoiserie wallpaper inside. “Purruch,” a cat house Ms. Adams and her business partner Sean Forestal built, was designed by Eleanor Donnelly of Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects. Andrew Reyniak of ARPAC designed an ARF “barn,” using recycled wood pallets obtained at the Montauk fishing docks.

Mr. Reyniak said he was struck by “the high value that Luke placed on civic engagement. He already has an understanding of architecture as a civic undertaking. The architecture school I went to really stressed that, and mentorship being part of the community and doing socially engaged work, not just weekend homes.”

Patrick Droesch, of Amagansett and Florence Building Materials, agreed to underwrite the building supplies for the projects. Water Mill Building Supply, Speonk Lumber, and Riverhead Building Supply also helped. 

Luke said it was exciting when the completed houses began to arrive by the July deadline. “I really didn’t know what to expect. It’s been amazing the way it worked out. Literally everyone approached said they would help. Everybody I asked was nice enough to meet with me,” Luke said.

“Well,” Mr. Reyniak said, “Clearly, Luke is a very caring kid. And he’s a great salesman.”

Tara, an ARF rescue, tried the “Bow Wow Haus,” designed by Robert Young of Robert Young Architects and built by Fountainhead Construction. Tria Giovan Photos
Pretty nice digs! Top left, Kaya, a former ARF dog, relaxed by “Benchouse,” designed by Ignacio Ramos of Estudio Ramos and built by Bulgin & Associates; Tink peeked out of “Snoop E(nigma),” designed by Bill Beeton of Beeton & Company and built and planted by Landscape Details.