Story by: Susan Winlow
"Form follows function." Architect Ralph Mackin embraces this quote by the 19th-century architect Louis Sullivan, and has evolved with it through his nearly 30 years in the building industry.
“If you design residential architecture, you're learning how people live. You're bringing those thoughts into the other buildings—it makes people feel like they belong in those buildings.”
"We express ourselves through our architecture," says Ralph, owner of the boutique firm Mackin Architects. "It's my art form you're going to live in, so I have to make it beautiful. But it also must be completely functional. There has to be a balance."
Mackin Architects specializes in high-end residential architecture, but the firm also integrates seamlessly with the community by creating its churches and clubs. "It's a natural extension of our firm," he says. "If you design residential architecture, you're learning how people live. You're bringing those thoughts into the other buildings it makes people feel like they belong in those buildings."
When COVID-19 hit, Ralph and his family, including extended family, were prepared for planned growth, which helped considerably during the pandemic. They finished the basement and a third-floor room, which gave them that much-needed extra space. By adding flexibility into the original design of his own home, Ralph was able to expand when needed. And this is exactly what he and his team strive to do for their clients.
Having that flexible space is a boon these days with the call for bigger rooms and even more open space for family to gather. But it's now just as important to have additional "away" spaces, where family members can work, study, play, make phone calls or read without interruption. "We need main gathering spaces, but we also need 'away' spaces," says Ralph. "As we've adapted to making houses more open, fun-filled and sun-filled, we've learned that you also you need quiet rooms, not just one big space."
With people now spending so much time at home, says Ralph, exterior spaces have become just as important as interior ones. Screened porches, pool houses, outbuildings and other outdoor features are often deemed essential for a family living and recreating at home.
Ralph has also observed a shift from urban to suburban/rural living, which has created a migration to areas that will need additional residences and support buildings. "We're starting to see there is a focus out here, and our wheels start to turn," he says. "Not only residences, but support structures are now needed. It's a revival, and I think it will be interesting to watch."
Read the full article and see interior photos by visiting Design + Decor CT/NJ/NY Vol. 17 Issue 6 article.