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Meet Adam Jordan: Hamptons Modernist and Curbed Young Gun

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All photos and renderings courtesy of <a href="">Adam Jordan</a>
All photos and renderings courtesy of Adam Jordan

It takes approximately three-and-a-half minutes of phone conversation before it's clear 29-year-old architect Adam Jordan is about as "honest, thoughtful, functional, and refined," as he describes his aesthetic to be. As a project architect for Hamptons' Bates Masi Architects, a firm renown for linen-crisp, modern residences, he alludes to the pared-back utility of the greats that inspire him, namely French modernists Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé. Of course, if we're to make comparisons between the Curbed Young Gun and his work, his professional emphasis on the brusque clarity of midcentury functionalists may make the warmness of his Southern accent seem like a red herring. It's not. As much as his designs revel in hard edges and perpendicular lines, there's a warmth to them.

Growing up in South Carolina, Jordan was "constantly outside" building forts or treehouses. He notes he's always been a creative outlier in the family. He took up painting and sketching. While his family watched football on Thanksgiving, he was in the kitchen, helping prepare the meal. "I always just preferred to create things."

This brought him to the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he received his masters in architecture, focusing on "the computer side" of the discipline. The training is responsible for his own incredibly lifelike renderings (some of which are below), and is also one of the reasons he got hired by a prestigious residential architecture firm despite the fact that he graduated at the height of the housing collapse.

Through the years at Bates-Masi, he's honed his aesthetic, one that strives for the "crisp clean lines" and "straight-edge" feel of modern architecture, but with materials that have a history and a patina—"blackened moulded steel," for instance, or "lime-washed plaster." His buildings often use rustic wood flooring or shingle-siding indoors.

"A lot of times modern architecture is sterile and cold, we strive perfection, but I like the little imperfections," he says. "As a designer that pushes me; a sense of character and soul is something I strive for."

That melding of the warm and the cool is easily spotted in his recent Northwest Landing project, a boxy residence built 10 feet off the ground. "The site was almost a marsh; it was really unbuildable," Jordan explains. Ordinances and permits were hard to come by, and when the regional authorities did approve building on the lot, the architects had to stick to a very specific footprint. Between the structural columns and the simple footprint, the house was at risk of being dark and lifeless in the middle of the spacial box. Jordan ended up using the spaces between the columns as "light wells" to be sure the central rooms felt as airy as the others. To bring in a sense of history, Jordan brought in building materials indigenous to New York state, like local glue-laminated timber.

Incorporating views of the outdoors was also a concern for his Cedar Point project, which is still in the rendering phase. Adam's client, who inherited the land, hoped the house would recreate the summers he spent there camping with his family. The major issue? Neighboring houses loomed and privacy in outdoor spaces was essentially nonexistent. Jordan opted to create a series of pavilions, which would not only riff on camp lodging, but also providing "an indoor-outdoor feeling without the neighbors seeing in."

Privacy was not a problem, however, for his Foothills project, a plan he concocted as "a little case study on the side" for his parents. Here he takes the look and feel of a stone barn, but modernizes it with walls of windows on either side. "It's a simple house, but the sort of house they want to grow old into."

When a Hamptons resident decided to open up his own restaurant in Manhattan, he called upon Bates-Masi. Jordan, in turn, called upon the city the space was located in. "Coming from outside of Manhattan, we appreciate these urban elements city people overlook," he says. "Security gates, manhole covers, and fire escapes—we thought they were really beautiful." They got an NYC contractor to hand-make the bar installation, essentially a series of overlapping blackened steel gates just like those accordion fixtures that cover the windows of some of the city's apartments. They also commissioned custom accordion-style light fixtures, as well as a "woven metal rope" usually reserved for electrical poles to act as a wine rack.

Unfortunately, because another publication is featuring the Pierson Way House (↑ ↓), Jordan had to keep mum about his "favorite Bates-Masi project," a vacation home in a beach community "known for its rough, unkempt appearance," as the project description on his website reads. Clients hoped for a modest-sized dwelling that replicated some of the architectural vocabulary of the neighborhood. The result is a spread that manages to disappear amongst the native grasses in the lot, with the "building footprint arranged so that the entire dwelling could not be seen from any vantage point." It's all to "create an illusion that the house is smaller than in reality," reads the project description.

What's on the horizon for Jordan? He's keeping mum about that, too, though he divulged that his dream project would be to design a place for him and his wife. His ideal: "it would be really simple and really small. We want the bare minimum."

· Adam Jordan [official site]
· All Young Guns 2014 posts [Curbed National]