Monday, October 9, 2017

Creating The Perfect Backyard Getaway

There is nothing better than having a beautiful outdoor space in your home. It’s the perfect place to relax, unwind, connect with nature, and the environment. When JMA designs any type of backyard or patio space for our projects, we aim to have the area feel like a welcoming extension of the home. It’s so important for us to give our clients a backyard that makes them feel as if it’s their own personal retreat. With our projects like the 7th street townhouse we designed, as soon as the person opens the door they make a beeline for the backyard because it is just so beautiful and inviting. 
Backyard Designed by JMA

Backyard Design Essentials
Patios aren’t just meant to be a barren concrete spaces with no vibrancy or life. The best designed backyards are fun, colorful, and full of activity zones designed for entertaining, cooking, and relaxing. As soon as you enter into the backyard at the 7th street townhouse it gives you a sense of calmness as you see the wonderful view of the tall trees and wood accents from the large patio deck. When we were in the design planning stage for this project, we made sure the space had different areas where people could gather have a nice meal, and also have an area where kids can play. By us incorporating elements like a small water feature and colorful accents it becomes a great addition to the backyard space because it is both pleasant in sight and sound.
7th street townhouse backyard

For our design project at 10-18 47th Avenue located in Long Island City, the private rooftop terrace in the building is the ultimate showstopper. People say the kitchen is the heart of the home but this is the type of terrace you would never want to leave. When we design buildings we aim to make each project have an interior that flows effortlessly into the exterior of the home. As architects we do this by incorporating an open floor layout and large windows like the glass atrium on top of the upper unit that floods natural light throughout the space. At this terrace residents can have a place outdoors to enjoy cool breezes, fresh air, and see stunning views of the city.

The rooftop terrace at 10-18 47th Avenue designed by JMA

10-18 47th Avenue Rear Yard

Also located in Long Island City, at 10-27 47th Road, we designed this building to have multiple outdoor spaces. This stunning contemporary style 3-unit townhouse respects the context of the neighborhood and pays homage to the typical brick facade but with a modern flair.  It has an elevated ground floor unit that provides added privacy from the street in addition to the natural wood latices and plants climbing the facade. The main floor and basement both have access to the expansive private backyard with nearly floor to ceiling sliding doors and windows. The two units above are front and rear triplexes, the top floor being a split private penthouse with roof terrace. Each terrace has sweeping views of the city beyond and plenty of planted area creating a green rooftop oasis.

10-27 47th Road Penthouse Designed by JMA

10-27 47th Road's Private Backyard

JMA has always made it our mission to create buildings that improve the quality of life for residents and design features that can contribute to a healthier happier lifestyle. We believe that having a backyard space is a necessary feature to have in a home. Beautiful backyard spaces don’t appear overnight it’s amazing how architects can overlook an unappealing yard or bare space because they know what it’s potential can be. It’s common for many people to see a backyard as something completely separate from the rest of the house, but we see it as a powerful extension of the home.


  • Dalton, Melissa “How to Design An Outdoor Room” Curbed NY. Vox Media. June 2nd 2016. Web.
  • Better Home and Gardens “10 Ways To Create A Backyard Getaway”. Meredith Corporation. Accessed Oct. 5th 2017 Web.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It's All In The Details

The details are what give a home depth, almost like reading a good novel full of meaningful characters and plot twists. It is the architectural features and details in a home that have the capability to transform it from looking “nice” or “boring” to stunning and unique. The best architects know that when they are in the design planning stage it is extremely important to add details as a way of maintaining the integrity of a home. The details help create consistency and authenticity in a space. At JMA, we make sure every material and detail chosen conveys the overall concept of our design, making it reach its fullest potential. 

Importance of Material Selection 

For our development project at 93 Bright, located in Jersey City, a significant attention was focused on the exterior skin of the project and its appearance towards the surrounding neighborhood. We carefully chose materials that would accentuate the diverse urban fabric of the city and still look consistent with its neighbors. The primary materials for the project consists of a system of horizontal cedar wood slats, glass panels, and painted white aluminum window frame projections. The horizontal wood slats are definitely the star of the show for this project. The wood slats not only help break up the scale of the project but it also creates a balanced palette for the building. Architects decide what specific materials they want for a design, if done correctly it can transform a building into a work of art. The horizontal wood slats at 93 Bright are the perfect example of that. 
93 Bright designed by JMA


At another one of our projects, called The Wooden Box House, located in Argentina, we used wood as material to give the house a unique looking design aesthetic for the exterior. The project was designed with the idea of separating two volumes in two separate levels. The resulting concept produces a modern interpretation of the traditional Argentinian veranda. The upper wooden box portion cantilevers over the lower level as to create this modern veranda, which becomes a buffer between the interior and exterior spaces as well as a common gathering space. The inside plays with the light and shadows with walls that open and close, ranging from transparent to solid. The shadows casted all around the private upper level from the wood screens adds beautiful shadows in the home making the space look like a piece of art. We wanted to design the upper level of the house to have an intimate relaxing atmosphere full of character and small details.
Wooden Box House Designed by JMA

Wooden Box House Interior

Details Provide Character 

When architects create a structure, the details are what make the design. It tells the story about the building, societal changes, and how much character it has. JMA has done a lot of development projects in historic districts located in the New York and New Jersey area. The buildings at these locations are full of rich details like trims, crown moldings, original floors, and more. Those details give the home a sense of vibrancy and “je ne sais quoi”. We believe in preserving design elements like this because their loss or alteration would diminish or destroy aspects of the historic appeal whether on the outside, or on the inside of the building.

West End Apartment designed by JMA

Beautiful trim moldings at the West End Apartment

For our renovation project at the West End Apartment we had to keep the beautiful trim moldings, it would be unfortunate to get rid of it. All homes have potential and the reason why some homes look plain and boring is the lack of poor detailing. Details are what makes a home intriguing and is a testament to the artistry of the architect. 


Spry, Eric “Architecture: How Details Can Make All the Difference”. Houzz. March 27th, 2013. Web 

Nelson, Lee. H FAIA, “Architectural Character—Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving their Character.” Technical Preservation Serivces. NPS.Gov. Sept. 1988. Web

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Window Into JMA

Windows are a building's most valuable player. They are a welcomer of daylight, the perfect source of fresh air, and a key participant in determining a building's appearance. The window is a beautiful architectural element in design with many functions and is a highly expressive tool. A building's window is like a sign of human life and way to connect with the outside world. The window has a long and unique history with different designs, styles, and shapes seen throughout every decade.

At JMA we love to combine function and beauty with every structure we build. In a lot of our projects we design, we like to arrange our windows to form an artistic pattern, it makes a building look unique, modern, and beautiful. At our project 349 4th street, we designed the facade of the building to have windows varying shapes and sizes to stir interest and curiosity to the viewer.
4th Street Townhouse Designed by JMA

Types of Windows
Finding the perfect windows for your home can be a lengthy process because there are so many
different types of window styles and window frames to choose from. The most common types of window frames are vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and composite frame materials that sometimes can provide greater thermal resistance than metal. For our projects we enjoy using a variety of different window shapes because it gives a building a fun contemporary feel to it. For our development project at the 4th street townhouse in Jersey City, we used a combination of Stationary and Casement windows. Stationary windows are commonly used in modern or contemporary style homes. They are meant to add an aesthetic flair to the home since they do not open, and are easily customizable to be in any shape or angle you desire. The great thing about these types of windows is it works in conjunction with operating windows. The casement style windows have a hinge on either the right or left side to open the window outward.
Living Room Designed by JMA

In any type of residential or commercial building one of the key things everyone wants to have in their space is tons of natural light coming from windows. The natural light you get from windows helps keep the house fresh, spacious, and bright. In return these benefits help keeps the building users’ happy and gives them a way to connect with the outside world and nature. For our project 10-18 47th Avenue, we designed the contemporary townhouse to have a glass atrium on top of the central stairs in the upper unit to flood natural light throughout the space. The rear fa├žade of the building boasts nearly floor to ceiling windows on every floor.  We were able to achieve an elegant and unique look for the outside of the building by designing a modern fiber cement panel and natural wood framed window protusions and paneling. The combination of both of these contrasting materials makes the house look earthy and warm.
10-18 47th Avenue Townhouse

The beauty about windows is it gives the home such an inviting appearance. Famous architects have used windows as a form of artistic expression for their buildings for years as seen in the image below.

At JMA we make sure every detail from the materials, fixtures,window sizes, and shapes we choose, all align and convey the style we want our buildings to exude. At 93 Bright our design accentuates the diverse urban fabric of Jersey City with wood and glass materials.
93 Bright Designed by JMA

The primary materials for this project consist of a system of horizontal cedar wood slats, glass panels and painted white aluminum window frame projections. The horizontal wood slats encompass the entire second and third floor with wood elements found in the neighborhood.  These wood elements help to break up the scale of the project and provide for a balanced palette that integrates the project into a coherent whole. It is so important for architects to achieve a balance when they design and have their structures look functional and aesthetically pleasing. It is the design elements architects choose like a window style that can turn a building from boring into something beautiful and different.


•Reggev, Kate “5 Energy-Efficient and Stylish Ways to Shade Your Windows” Dwell 3 Sept.2017. Web.
•HGTV “8 Types of Windows” Scripps Network 2017. Web. 
•“Types of Windows” Big City Windows 26 Nov. 2014 Web.
•Pierre von Meiss. “Elements of Architecture: From Form to Place” Electronic Book Chapter 1 “Openings”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Designs That Promote Healthier Communities

When designing a building it is necessary to design features in a home that will promote healthy behaviors and foster engagement opportunities for residents. Even the smallest design changes to a surrounding can have a strong impact on mood and overall health. Spaces that fail to promote community movement can lead to obesity and other physical health conditions. A lack of recreational space in a building can cause a sense of isolation and puts an unwanted strain on our emotional health.

JMA has always made it our mission to create buildings that improve the quality of life for residents and design features that can contribute to a healthier happier lifestyle. When we were designing a large residential building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we placed a strong emphasis on functional space before formal concept. Our design goal was large apartments, comfortable balconies, abundant daylighting and open views. The development project is 90,000 square ft. and is located in a suburb of Buenos Aires called Ramos Meija. The footprint of the building is open on all 4 sides, letting the building open towards 2 centenarian palms, thus giving the name to the building: Palmeras de Ramos (Palms of Ramos).
Ramos Meija designed by JMA

Design's Impact on Our Mood 

The design of building is a key part of the solution in delivering healthy communities. The rooftop terrace we designed at Palmeras de Ramos is meant to be a place of social encounter for residents to interact and make friends. It is very spacious and encourages residents to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines by walking on the terrace and also around the walkways surrounding the building. Based on the design we created, we believe the accessibility we achieved can help residents combat issues like obesity and related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Communities appreciate having a well-designed open space because it promotes active living and movement.
Design Features That Foster Healthy and Active Spaces

It is very important to make sure apartments are designed with an open layout because it improves the quality of life for residents and diminishes the feeling of claustrophobia. At the Palmeras Ramos building we chose to design comfortable balconies for residents. This design feature extends the residents’ homes and makes them feel happy because it gives them access to the outside world.
The comfortable balconies at Ramos Meija
Along with an open floor plan, architects can improve physical and mental health for residents by using a design that improves ventilation and provides fresh air for the home. 54 Bright Street, another development project of JMA’s, is a high performance building built with an open layout and Passive Design strategies that are implemented into all aspects of the design.

The Positive Benefits of Passive Design

Jorge is passionate about Passive Design, he believes that an efficient design means responding to locate climate and site conditions to maximize building users’ comfort. When architects create an efficient design they must be thinking about the natural elements that can help residents feel more comfortable, like wind. Wind provides household heating cooling, ventilation and lighting, thereby reducing or removing the need for mechanical heating or cooling.

At 54 Bright we used passive design techniques to improve indoor air quality and reduce temperature fluctuations making it more enjoyable to live in. Jorge believes that architects should design buildings with comfort and resource-efficiency in mind. Buildings and apartments should be designed to be comfortable for residents to unwind when they need to, but still gives them the opportunity for social interaction. We encourage architects and developers to create buildings that have a strong social structure because it can promote healthy behaviors and prevent isolation.
54 Bright designed by JMA
It doesn’t matter if you are building a large development building or a smaller townhouse, adding a small change like a bench in the front of the building is a tool meant for people to interact with one another and feel happy having a discussion. People need community design features such as outdoor recreational space, safe streets, landscaping, outdoor play space because it can contribute to enhancing a sense of neighborhood identity. With all of our projects it is important for us as architects to create designs that are not only beautiful but resource efficient, embraces its inhabitants, and foster vibrant communities.


• Stewart, M. Cyril “How design can encourage home and community health”. The American Institute of Architects. Web

• Woo, Lisa “How to design communities that make residents fitter and healthier.” The Guardian. 3 Sept. 2014, Web.

• Center For Active Design “Engaging Communities to Promote Health through Design”. Web.

Monday, August 21, 2017

How to Maximize Your Living Space

Living in Manhattan has a lot of perks but when it comes to the size of apartments they typically run on the smaller side. However, just because your apartment is small, does not mean you have to think small when designing it. In order to make your apartment reach its fullest potential you have to think outside the box and find new ways to make every area of space have a thoughtful purpose.

How to Create a Purposeful Design
We recently did a renovation for an apartment located in Gramercy, New York that was in need of a makeover. Before JMA designed it, the apartment had a dark cramped layout that lacked function or beauty. Our first step when renovating was to reconfigure the entire layout and give the compact looking apartment a breath of fresh new air.

The kitchen and living room layout was maximized by removing a dividing wall that separated the spaces, resulting in a much more flexible and efficient layout. An integrated island separates the kitchen and living room visually, but doesn't constrain the spaces, all the while providing usable space for the kitchen.

Gramercy Apartment Designed by JMA

Let There Be Light
JMA used diffused accent lighting to provide a feeling of openness and natural light to help make the apartment feel larger and brighter. Light is an important design element because it creates a visual impression of expansiveness. Not only does light make an apartment seem brighter and more open, but choosing the right paint colors can have this effect as well. When designing your apartment always choose a solid light color to make your rooms seem bigger and more spacious. The light blue color we chose for the Gramercy apartment was the perfect choice because it makes the apartment look airy and gives it a calming effect.

The Benefits of Storage in Unexpected Places
When designing this apartment we aimed to find new ways to maximize square footage wherever we could. One of the ways we did this is by creating an efficient use of shelving in the kitchen and living room areas. If you live in a smaller apartment, staying organized is essential.  JMA designed the Gramercy apartment to have ample cabinet space so it can be clutter free. The best designers always approach design with each bit of the space carefully and thoughtfully in mind.  By us placing the built-in shelves close to the ceiling it made the apartment look taller and reduced taking up precious floor space.

Thinking Outside the Box
Our overall vision when designing this apartment was to make it look minimal, modern, and have a timeless appeal. The white cabinets in the kitchen and the wood accents in the bathroom give the apartment a modern elegance. Although the bathroom is on the smaller side it still looks stylish, unique, and functional. It fits perfectly with the rest of the house and the minimalist look we were going for.
Modern Bathroom Designed by JMA

At JMA we are always focused on strategizing new ways to maximize square footage when we are in the design planning process. It is important for us to create smarter home layouts for our clients regardless of their apartment size. The best designed homes are functional, beautiful, and makes people feel comfortable in an environment that works for them. It is a very rewarding feeling designing a client's home that satisfies their artistic desires and changes their lives for the better.

  • McLaughlin, Camilla " Efficiency is Best: Buying Homes That Utilize the Most of Each Space" Web.
  • Renzi, Jen and Smith, Lauren " 11 Ways to Maximize a Small Space." July 27. 2017 Web

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Inviting the Outside In

Louis Kahn once said “A room is not a room without natural light”, and here at the JMA team we couldn’t agree more. Natural light is an architectural element that is on the same level of importance as any other structural element needed in a building. A well-lit room gives someone a refreshed and uplifting feeling. Light is one of those powerful elements that can change the whole appearance of a home.

I am sure there has been plenty of times when you have been in a home or building and it gave you a vibe like the “walls were caving in." A dreary and darkly lit space can definitely give a home that effect. A good way to combat this is by expanding living spaces, opening doors and breaking down the barrier between indoor and outdoor living.

Unifying Outdoor and Indoor Living Spaces

When JMA designs, we see the outside as not separate from the home, but as an extension of it. Designing a house is an exciting art form because you want to choose the best layout, materials, and overall design aesthetic to draw the visitor in. Your house should make guests feel like they have a strong gravitational pull leading them all around the house.
The beautiful entryway at the 7th Street Brownstone
For our interior renovation project at a 7th Street Brownstone in Jersey City, we expanded the doorway lintels to create continuity from the entrance of the home, all the way to the back patio. As soon as you enter through the door, you get a perfect tunnel like view to the back patio area. It is almost as if the patio is calling you forward and a lovely natural light surrounds you as you move through the house.
Dining Room Designed by JMA
Creating Desirable Places in Your Home

At the 7th Street Brownstone, we gave it a complete transformation because it was not living up to its fullest potential. The home was very cramped, had a drab kitchen, and not enough natural light. JMA made some much-needed modifications using expansive windows and skylights to allow an abundance of light to flow throughout the kitchen. It’s amazing to see the positive energy the house now exudes with the brand new spacious layout and inviting aura. 
Contemporary Kitchen Designed by JMA
Finding Your Room Showstoppers

The 7th Street brownstone is a standout project for the JMA team because it has so many unique characteristics and personality in all the rooms. Personally, I think the kitchen is the ultimate showstopper. Everything about the kitchen screams JMA because it is the perfect combination of a functional and beautiful space with a sense of timelessness.

When we renovated the house, we aimed to make all the rooms become seamless and have a nice flow with each other. The beautiful cedar wood is the material that ties the whole house together. The red cedar wood addition we created in the back gives the house an earthier look. If you only looked at the patio we created, you might think it belonged to a house in a cabin somewhere, not an urban area like Jersey City.
Red Cedar Wood Patio Designed by JMA

JMA loves using our creativity and technical skills to give our clients their dream homes and fulfill their artistic desire. We encourage other architects and design professionals to always keep an open mind when designing. You never know when inspiration may strike and cause you to create that perfect masterpiece.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Furniture Matters When Designing Your Home

Interior design is exciting because it shows off one’s style and gives you a canvas to display how you want to express yourself.  Each design decision can’t be made lightly because it could be like a bad domino effect waiting to happen. Choosing the right furniture can either make or break the interior layout of your home.  Especially if you live in a city like New York where space is a challenge, you don’t want to choose furniture that is too bulky, boring and adds no value. The furniture’s size, dimension, and design are all factors that must be cohesive and complimentary to each other.

Choosing The Right Furniture Pieces
Furniture helps set the stage for creating a welcoming and relaxed environment for your guests. It is important to maximize the functionality of your space and pick that perfect couch, cabinet, table etc., to make your rooms come to life.
 West End Apartment designed by JMA

Importance of Dual-Use Furniture

JMA recently did an interior renovation for a West End apartment located in the Upper West Side. We wanted to create signature-customized pieces that worked for specific rooms. In the foyer, we sought to make a cabinet storage piece perfect for books, shoes, and other items. Dual-use furniture is beneficial because it adds function and a unique special touch to your apartment. The bookcase was custom-made to have sections that were cut various sizes and heights to stir interest and make the room look taller.
Storage cabinet designed by JMA
Foyer at the West End Apartment

Another furniture piece JMA had fun creating was a modern white cabinet at the 5th street townhouse project. The built-in white cabinet is not bulky, blends in with the rest of the room, and creates an illusion of higher ceilings. The cabinet is a focal point in the family room because it displays personal memorabilia and an example of our client’s personality. At the base of the cabinet, we wanted it have a unique geometric style door and a storage space to provide privacy.  
Modern Cabinet designed by JMA 

Creating Unexpected Furniture Arrangements
I always believe that when you go into someone’s home the furniture helps narrate the design story and creates a vibe. In the living room at the West End Apartment, the style we were aiming for is a modern streamlined look with a “Mad Men” feel to it.

The standout furniture pieces we created were two dark colored wood cabinets. They are both high-quality pieces and give the apartment a cool contemporary flair. The longer furniture piece makes the room look wide, spacious, and gives it a twist. The dark color compliments the light colored herringbone floors and highlights the white trim moldings. The diffused accent lighting in the apartment creates a warm ambiance over the intricate details of the apartment and the furniture.
Dark wood cabinets designed by JMA

Sometimes when you shop at stores, you see a plenty of items that look too “cookie-cutter.” These pieces are mainly all about the function and have little to no unique design style to it. JMA is great at combining function, beauty, and comfort all into one package. When decorating your home it’s okay to splurge on customized items because it allows the room to reach its full potential. I believe designing is all about trusting your instincts and having fun with customizing or buying furniture pieces to create the vibe you want. Furniture is just one of the design factors that helps draw your guests in and defines the space, so make sure you are choosing good ones.

  • Fusaro, Kim “10 Tricks to Make Your Home Look Bigger”. Women’s Day. Hearst. Nov. 21, 2011 Web.
  • Margolies, Jane “12 Decorating Do’s and Don'ts From Top Designers” House Beautiful. Hearst.  Web. Feb 19, 2014

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Psychology behind Urban Design

Have you ever wondered as you walked around the city why some public spaces attract crowds of happy people, and other spaces you want to run from? The difference between the two is whether or not that architect was successful in creating a design that embraces its community and inhabitants. A city must include buildings and public areas that benefit society, not hinder it. Urban design is the process on how we achieve this goal. It is an important tool architects and planners use to enliven and enrich the experience of urban life in cities, like New York and Jersey City.
Urban design gives character to buildings and neighborhoods as a whole. It’s fascinating when architects and urban planners use their talents and knowledge to construct buildings and create public spaces that uplift the entire energy of city. Urban design is special because it can promote community involvement and enhance people’s quality of life.

What is considered a good urban design?

Good urban design affects your mood, makes you feel happy, and you don’t mind staying in that space for a long time. For instance, in the city the High Line is a great example of this type of location. On any day during the week or weekend the High Line is filled with hundreds of people who happily meander through the area. Urban design should be functional and attractive for its inhabitants. All public spaces should serve a specific purpose from the placement of a bench, to the placement of flowers and greenery.
The High Line located in NYC

JMA’s Urban Design Projects
Jorge Mastropietro creates spaces that bring people together whether they are inside or outside the home. For all of his projects he always keeps in mind how that building should perform and how to make people feel comfortable around that space. 
The perfect example of this type of building is Jorge’s Newark Affordable Housing Projects. It is a group of homes that provide the residents and visitors with a welcoming and positive energy. The houses are located in a low-income residential urban density within a suburban neighborhood in Jersey. The project called for a design of a family residence that could be placed on a single lot as a free-standing unit, while being versatile enough to be repeated in a group setting that looks deliberate and appropriate.
Newark Affordable Housing Projects, designed by JMA
The resulting module engages the street traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, with planes of various volumes on several different scales. Jorge designed the facade of the homes to be very appealing, a plus for pedestrians as they walk by. He did this by using a variety of sustainable materials like red cedar board; aluminum clad wood, and corrugated metal. All these various materials help stir interest in the viewer and provide a unique appearance on the street-scape.

In addition to the pleasant appearance of the front of the houses, the backyard spaces are just as functional and beautiful. All the homes have a backyard space that helps residents connect back with nature. The backyard area is a very warm space, giving the residents a place to interact, relax, and have a good time.
Newark Affordable Housing Projects (Backyard)

Jorge designed each apartment with function and resource efficiency in mind. The residents who live on the first floor still have a sense of privacy with their doors not so close to the sidewalk. It also doesn’t make pedestrians feel like they are intruding in someone’s personal space.
Urban design helps people live, work, and relax in happier and functional spaces. It is a important process architects and planners use to adapt to the psychological desires of people.  It is amazing how one wrong design decision can make a space feel dreary and unreceptive. Architects should create buildings that motivate people to be drawn to it and makes them never want to leave. 

  • EUKN Research. “Urban Design, how important is it for cities?” Web.
  • Ellard, Colin “Cities and their psychology: how neuroscience affects urban planning”. The Guardian. Web Feb. 4 2014.