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Architecture Explained in 5 Minutes at Parrish

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Picture-for-Parrish

Gibson Farm by James Merrell Architects/Raimund Koch photo

By Stephen J. Kotz

Imagine going through a speed dating session with a dozen architects. That’s a little what it will be like when the Parrish Art Museum presents “Five Minutes Max,” the third installment in its Architectural Sessions series, at noon on Saturday.

The event will be moderated by Maziar Behrooz AIA, an architect with offices in East Hampton and New York.

And as the name implies, each of the 12 architects taking part will be given just five minutes to succinctly discuss a topic or theme that is specific to projects they have designed on the East End.

Mr. Behrooz said he told each of the participants, “Let’s not make this a sales pitch. This is not about what each of us does to solicit work. It’s not about that. It’s about ideas. Let’s focus on ideas that have to do with building and design on the East End.”

He added that participants will not be able to tarry because as they speak, a series of 15 slides, appearing for no more than 20 seconds each, will be shown on a large screen behind the speaker.

“It forces them to give all their ideas in five minutes,” Mr. Behrooz said. “We ask them, in addition to that, to concentrate on issues that have to do with local and regional architecture here, so each one will take some aspect of building that is inspiring or challenging to them about the region”—whether it be designing  modern green houses or traditional homes.

“At least one person will talk about the issue of the environment out here,” said Mr. Behrooz. “One may speak about the history of the area, and another might talk about preservation.”

The Architectural Sessions take place about four times a year, and Mr. Behrooz said they present an opportunity to allow architects who are members of the American Institute of Architects to have a conversation about their work, rather than simply present it in an exhibit

The Parrish has based the format of “Five Minutes Max” on its popular “PechaKucha Night Hamptons” series, which were originally called “Lightning Rounds” and feature rapid-fire presentations from artists in a variety of disciplines. ( PechaKucha is a Japanese term that means “chit chat,” Mr. Behrooz said.)

Saturday’s panel will feature Hideaki Ariizumi and Glynis Berry AIA, the founders of Studio A/B Architecture; John Berg of Berg Design Architects; Bill Chaleff, a partner in Chaleff & Rogers Architects; Jonathan Foster, the owner of nyArchitect; Maxine Nachtigal Liao, the owner of firm by the same name, Nick Martin, the founder of Martin Architects; Michael McCrum, the principal of McCrum Architects, James Merrell, the head of James Merrell Architects; John Rose, the owner of John David Rose Architects PC; Steve Schappacher, the co-founder of Schappacher White Architecture DPC, Ric Stott, the principal of Flynn + Stott Architects; and Fred H. Throo, the principal of Fred Throo Architects and Architecture One, PC.

Mr. Behrooz, who was born in Iran and moved to the United State as a student with his family in the 1970s, studied architecture as an undergraduate at Tulane University, where he remains on the board of advisors to its architecture school, did his graduate work at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies and the Cornell School of Architecture.

Most of his firm’s work is residential, and it ranges from the luxury market to affordable housing. Mr. Behrooz said he was an early proponent of using shipping containers in construction. A project in Amagansett that employed containers as the framework of an artist studio is well known.

“I did the cheapest house in the Hamptons,” he said, referring to his “instahouses,” prefabricated structures that rely on a combination of shipping containers. “I wanted to build a $99,000 house, like the 99-cent iTune song,” he said. “That’s how we started it, and we worked backward from that price.”

Tickets to Saturday’s program are $10 and include admission to the museum at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Admission is free to members of the Parrish, children and students. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the museum at (631) 283-2118.

 

Terry Sullivan

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By Stephen J. Kotz

This Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church at 3 p.m., you are sponsoring a memorial sing-along to honor Pete and Toshi Seeger, who both died recently. What were their ties to Sag Harbor?

Pete was a great help in 1993 when he came to the Old Whalers’ Church and did a benefit concert for the Eastville Community Historical Society. What happened is when the lines of the historic district were drawn, they went across the street when they came to St. David’s AME Church, avoiding what was a traditionally black neighborhood. When I told Pete that, he said, “Let’s do a concert,” so we did. Lo and behold, the next year, when he came back to town for another fundraiser, Eastville was on all the historic tours.

This is a memorial for both Pete and Toshi, because without Toshi Seeger there would not have been a Pete Seeger. All his family would tell you that. She organized the Clearwater Festival. At its height it was attended by 30,000 people. During the ’50s, it was her idea that they would not talk to the administration at colleges but go straight to the student union: “Would you like Pete to come and do a concert? You do the promo, here’s the fee.” He’d be in and out, so Pete was working regularly when he was on the blacklist.

Where did you meet him?

I met him at a workshop for songwriting at Omega at Rhinebeck upstate in 1991. I was trying to get a chorus together that was going to be an interracial chorus of about a dozen people.  When I told him, he said “You’re just the fellow I’ve been looking for.” Only he wanted 200 or 300 people. Six months later, though, Pete and I put together a quartet. I supplied myself and the soprano. He supplied the tenor and a baritone and six months later we sang at Carnegie Hall. We sang with him for years on short notice.

Why is Pete Seeger important?

Optimism. He had optimism that inspired 12,000 people to sign up to clean up the Hudson River. Integrity. He stood up for what he believed in even when faced with jail. Courage. He faced death threats. He told a story about a guy who came to him after a concert who told him “I came to this concert tonight to kill you.” They sat down and talked awhile and then they sang together. The guy told him “I want to thank you. You changed my life.”

He inspired, and this is not an exaggeration, millions of people.

Tell me about Seeger’s songs.

He was like an encyclopedia for song details. If you asked him for a specific song, it was like pressing the button on a tape recorder and he’d start telling, “Well in 1834, he brought this song to South Carolina” and he’d bring it all the way to the present, telling you who added what and when.

Even when he worked on a song, he always gave credit to everyone else. Take a song like “We Shall Overcome.” He changed “will” to “shall” because it sounded better to his Yankee ear. That’s how Pete worked. He would sing stuff that was around for 10, 20 years and he’d just change a word or two and tinker with it.

Who will be performing with you this weekend and what will you sing?

The Musical Suspects. Dan Koontz is the musical director at Christ Church. He plays the organ at the church, keyboards and a mean blues guitar. Bill Chaleff, the architect, plays guitar and his son, Ben, plays mandolin and bass. And I sing.

We’ll do mostly songs that people know from Pete singing them. “We Shall Overcome,” “Down by the Riverside,” “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You,” “Deportee.” We are not only encouraging, but demanding, that people sing along. You’ll be put in irons if you don’t sing along.