Paul Masi devises a new kind of architectural hardware – one that acts both as cladding fastener and interior detail.
When Paul Masi moved his family to Amagansett, New York – closer to the Long Island offices of his architecture firm, Bates Masi + Architects – he didn’t want to do it at the expense of their privacy. “It made sense to move into town,” he says, “but the area is a lot busier than we’re used to, so we were concerned about the noise. I started thinking about construction methods to block sound.”
His design started simply enough, combining tall concrete walls with wood siding to provide natural sound absorption as well as visual appeal. “Western red cedar is pretty typical here. There are a lot of old agricultural buildings surrounding us, and it fits right in.”
Looking at all that barn board got him thinking about durability, particularly in a seaside locale. Using nails on siding compromises the material’s longevity; it weakens the wood and lets moisture infiltrate. So Masi devised a unique tension clip that would hold the wood without damaging it, allowing it to expand, contract and move with the elements.
Over 50 iterations were pumped out of the office’s 3-D printer before he arrived at the final system of stainless steel clips, which mount to a frame embedded in the concrete. He says the construction team had an easy time installing the boards, but they balked at using the fasteners on the Carrara marble planks that line the bathroom walls: “I had to put in the first few myself, just to prove that it would work.”
With minor adjustments, the clips also became towel hooks, cabinet hardware, and pivoting hinges for a movable baffle wall in the living room. “We were looking to see how many ways they could be used,” he says. “When you do that, the project becomes so much more cohesive.”
While there is talk of producing the clips on a larger scale, Masi expects that the fabrication cost would need to come down significantly; the firm has already updated the clip to use less material. This new version is being installed on Bates Masi’s new office building, so either way it’s bound to become the firm’s calling card.