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East Hampton Press

“Pets’ Posh Pads Sell At Auction.” Allen, JD. July 18, 2018.
see full article online here
see project page here

Le Corbusier got his start in architecture at the age of 15 by attending École des Arts Décoratifs; Mies van der Roche, who coined the phrase “less is more,” traded in his brick mason trowel at 19 to study with an architect; Peter Zumthor learned the basics of architectural design as a carpenter in his teenage years—and Luke Louchheim, a rising ninth-grader at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, may have just taken his biggest step toward a career in architecture by organizing a doghouse auction to benefit the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.

The nine artisan dog houses plus a luxurious cat condo will go up for initial bidding online before they are sold at a silent auction at the nonprofit’s Bow Wow Meow Ball fundraiser on Saturday, August 18.

For the fun of it, Luke—who is the son of Press News Group owner and publisher Joseph P. Louchheim and Summer Louchheim, who is on ARF’s board of directors—started working on this passion project in October 2017. He calls it “arfITECTURE,” he said, because it combines his love of architecture and his love for his animals.

“I have been interested in architecture for a while now, and we adopted both of our dogs from ARF so I wanted to find out a way to mix them together to help out ARF,” the 14-year-old said from his family’s home in Sagaponack. Buttercup, a bulldog, and Sam, a pitbull Chihuahua mix, were playing nearby.

“ARF started because people visiting [the South Fork] would adopt dogs and leave them behind. ARF started out just by taking in those dogs and now it’s just as important because—well, it’s how we’ve gotten our two dogs—it rescues dogs from the streets of Puerto Rico and puppy mills. It’s local and I wanted to help them make a difference.”

Emilia Steelman, of Martin Architects in Sagaponack, has been tutoring him in architecture for nearly three years.

“A project like this, which Luke came up with, is the perfect project for him to get his feet wet in this career,” Ms. Steelman said. “It is a small-scale design that he was able to explore his ideas without getting too tripped up in the systems we have to deal with in regular architecture.”

Ms. Steelman noted that she tried to teach him to explore his curiosity and problem solving when it comes to designing something both artistic and use-friendly. They spent early mornings mocking up different designs using cardboard for months.

“This project is amazing—I am so proud of him,” she said.

Luke began to enlist a group of local architects—Michael Lomont of Stelle Lomont Rouhani, Blaze Makoid of Blaze Makoid Architecture, Juan Ignacio Ramos of Estudio Ramos, Andrew Reyniak of ARAPC, Nick Martin of Martin Architects, Kitty McCoy of Kathrine McCoy Architecture, Bill Beeton of Beeton & Company, Robert Young of Robert Young Architects and Maziar Behrooz of MB Architecture—to each design a dog house or cat condo, and then pair them up with local builders who would build the structures according to the architects’ plans.

In November, Luke presented his plan to Scott Howe, the executive director of ARF. Mr. Howe then jovially stormed Jennifer DiClemente’s office to tell her ARF was on board.

“Scott thought it would be a great addition to the Bow Wow Meow and a helpful fundraiser for ARF,” said Ms. DiClemente, ARF’s director of development. “This project involves a little bit of a different group of our community that we aren’t always targeting to be involved with us. The architects and the builders who have pretty prominent names in the community, seeing them do a project like this to help us raise money for our mission and what we are doing here is something we are really grateful for.”

Luke said once he had support from the builders—Jeff Gagliotti of Bulgin & Associates, Ken Wright of Wright and Company, Michael Derrig of Landscape Details, Maude Adams of Artisan Construction Associates, Gary Seff of Fountainhead, John Koronkiewicz of JJK Construction, Michael Davis of Michael Davis Design and Construction, Walter Sternlieb, and Jamie Davis and Nick Zappola of N. Zappola & Associates—and architects, he came up with project guidelines and specifications for the dog houses. They needed to be suitable for outdoor and indoor use, and light enough be carried by two adults, and the materials budget could not exceed $500 each.

To his surprise, Patrick Droesch, of Amagansett and Florence Building Materials, underwrote the building supplies for the project. Water Mill Building Supply, Speonk Lumber, and Riverhead Building Supply also helped contribute supplies for the dog houses.

“We’re members of the community, so it’s nice to have an opportunity to do something for a good cause—particularly a local cause,” Mr. Makoid said in an email. The dog house his firm designed was built with Wright & Co. It’s constructed with wood and folded metal, transforming a classic dog house into a modern residence.

“By limiting the number of materials, ‘Pitched Ruff’ allows for a user-friendly method of construction, in which the wood is treated as puzzle pieces and the folded metal simply clips over the wood frame. This allows not only for a simple and sleek design, but also the potential for any dog owner to construct a ‘Pitched Ruff’ for their furry friend.”

Mr. Makoid said Luke has the chops to one day be a successful architect.

“He scheduled a meeting, came into my office and we discussed his proposal. He created and ran the whole show with real professionalism,” he said.

Not to mention, it was a learning experience for Mr. Makoid’s junior staff.

“We have a lot of young staff that love getting involved in a small project where they can have more ownership and see a project quickly from the design through construction in a couple of weeks rather than a couple of years,” Mr. Makoid said.

The rest of the designs are equally as funky. One dog house is completely covered in mirrors and disappears into the landscape. Another is modeled after a potato barn and made entirely from recycled fishing pallets.

"I designed a dog house, 'Domus Canus', that is classically inspired as an elegant home for a special pet complete with a hand stenciled floor and chinoiserie wall panels," said Kitty McCoy, of Kathrine McCoy Architects. "Domus Canus also does double duty as a beautiful garden folly to be placed in the landscape. Bridgehampton has been my home full time for most of my life and I believe we should all give back to our community."

Luke designed one of the dog houses himself. Named “Alpha Dog,” it is in the style of Andrew Geller’s A-frame beach houses of the 1970s.

“I have to say designing it was a lot harder than building it for me,” Luke said. “I went through a lot of designs for this. There were about five different designs. Building it with my dad was great and his help meant a lot to me.”

The bidding process for the dog houses will start online at arfhamptons.org/arfitecture with a minimum bid of $1,000 each on August 1 before the fundraiser two weeks later. The last chance to place a bid will be during a silent auction at the Bow 
Wow Meow Ball at the ARF adoption center in Wainscott on August 18. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs at least $750 per ticket to attend. Proceeds from the auction will go toward providing medical supplies, shelter and care animals.