Greenwich can boast some of the grandest houses in Fairfield County, and though the town has a settled look, new houses continue to crop up.
Some of those new homes have been built by the Greenwich-based firm Granoff Architects. Rich Granoff, the firm's founder, can claim 100 new homes built in town over the years, along with a few hundred home renovations. A couple of new projects on the commercial side include the renovation of the Greenwich Post Office for Restoration Hardware and a new Chase Bank.
To learn more about building a "new" Greenwich, Greenwich Citizen caught with Rich Granoff.
Give us a brief description of your firm.
I established the firm in 1989, and we have grown to become the largest design firm in town, with a professional staff of 24. This includes architects, interior designers and landscape architects. We work on a wide variety of projects, both residential and commercial. About 50 percent of our work is in Greenwich, and the remainder is mostly in the New York metropolitan area.
What's in with house design -- what bells and whistles are people looking for?
We are seeing a trend towards more moderate-sized homes in town, averaging 5,000 to 6,000 square feet (as compared to 8,000 to 10,000 square feet pre-recession). Most of our clients are focused on family activities, so we tend to design "family-friendly" homes. This includes large informal spaces, rather than grand dining rooms, and lots of natural light. We always create "outdoor rooms" that include covered porches, patios and terraces. And we usually have an opportunity to develop the property with our landscape architecture team. This could include a swimming pool, outdoor fireplace, gardens and play areas.
We live in a cold climate in a town noted for its big houses. What are your leading energy-saving features?
All of our homes, regardless of size, are built to be as "green" as possible. We always incorporate energy-saving features that include a superinsulated building envelope, high-efficiency mechanical systems and energy-saving light fixtures. We incorporate sustainable energy into many of our projects, including solar electric and/or hot water, geothermal systems and wind power.
What demand is there for contemporary design houses?
A lot of clients request a house that is relatively traditional on the exterior, with a more contemporary interior feel. In the last few years, we have seen an open mind towards "soft modern" design, with more open spaces and large expanses of glass. We are comfortable working in a wide range of styles, as long as the home fits into the neighborhood and/or site. The best compliment I can get is when a client tells me that their house is the best one that I have designed!
What design features are you called upon to meet the new FEMA regulations post Hurricane Sandy?
The local regulations are extremely complicated, with many different agencies mandating guidelines on what we can build on any given site. These include Planning & Zoning, Coastal Area Management, Wetlands, Health Department and Building Department (for commercial projects, add Architectural Review Committee). The new FEMA regulations further restrict when a house can be renovated, so we will see more teardowns in coastal neighborhoods. First floor elevations have also been raised, so you will be looking at a lot more steps to enter a new house.