PHOTOS BY John Martinelli
Finding undeveloped oceanfront property on Long Beach Island is a rarity. So, when a narrow plot of land tucked tightly between existing homes in Surf City went up for auction, Michael Pagnotta jumped at the chance to design and build a unique new house for a long-time client who was seeking a new project to develop on LBI.
Pagnotta runs the architect-led design/build firm Michael Pagnotta Architecture + Construction based in Ship Bottom, and now looks back with pride at the home he and his team have created. Pagnotta calls this home an “oceanfront jewel box,” because he was able to take a very small, empty lot with limited access and transform it into a striking, contemporary oceanfront retreat.
“The site was tiny and the allowable footprint was very limited, so it was difficult to imagine what could actually be built there,” Pagnotta recalled. Fortunately, small and oddly shaped lots are something of a specialty for his firm.
In designing it, Pagnotta said the home “wanted” to have striking contemporary forms because he had to maximize the footprint and volume. The structure supports a reverse living arrangement with a one-car garage on the ground level, and three bedrooms and two and a half baths on the second floor. The third-floor kitchen is circular with 11-foot-high ceilings, while the dining room boasts a curved barrel roof.
Large fiberglass decks with tempered glass railings offer spectacular outdoor living spaces and views of the ocean on the second and third floors. The home also features a rooftop deck for stunning, panoramic views.
“The inherent boxiness did not lend itself to traditional styles and required that the home be sleek and sculptural with more of a contemporary design approach,” Pagnotta said.
An additional design constraint was the shape of the lot. Termed a “flag lot,” the buildable area was set far off the street, at the end of a long driveway. To make good use of the tight space, Pagnotta rotated the garage to accommodate better entry and exit to the house. While necessary, it also added to the overall sleek, modern aesthetic.
“It’s a smooth process when you have a great client who trusts your vision,” Pagnotta explained.
In putting his creativity to work, Pagnotta created a truly one-of- a-kind, exciting home that shows how good design can maximize the value of any site, regardless of its size.