Why do we do what we do?
We want to restore the values and ideas that brought us here in the first place. We believe that only by going back to the origin of our Western Heritage we can have true original thinking and make our world a better place. Traditional architecture provides an inexhaustible wealth of inspiration since it is based on our nature and the human condition; it resonates with our body and with our psyche, because it echoes the idea of a human body instead of a machine. Since we are designing like this today, we call what we do: New Traditional Architecture.

What is New Traditional Architecture?
New Traditional Architecture seeks creative and innovative solutions to today’s problems while using the architectural language developed over the last 2,000 years. This architectural language is not dependent on the whims of trends, but is designed to transcend time. Whenever possible and practical we want to use construction techniques that have endured the test of time while welcoming new technologies that bring lasting value to our clients. Traditional buildings have been "sustainable" all along because they always take into consideration local climate and culture; they tend to be more durable and therefore better for the environment; they are more comfortable to live and work in and improve real estate value.

What do we do?
We design buildings and interiors for people who are looking to live a life well-lived, who care about quality and lasting value, and want to leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy. We also work with clients whose houses, and/or places of work or worship need to fit in a historical neighborhood. Our clients want the authenticity of a traditional house or building while being able to enjoy today’s amenities. They realize that the most sustainable building is the one already built. They want to conserve and increase the value of their properties with designs that are detailed well and built for the long term. We have been fortunate to serve clients in the Continental US and the Caribbean.

How do we do it?
We follow a well-defined process which starts with listening to your dreams or issues, understanding your preferences for how you want to live or work and dovetailing the design to your existing building or community.
The initial step of our process entails “research and discovery” to ascertain any legal, zoning, covenant restrictions, building or landmark code issues which may affect the design. During this time, you will also share your ideas or images which you want us to consider. We will then prepare sketches and schematic drawings to illustrate our ideas and together we will arrive at your preferred option.
During our second step, we develop the design in detail and coordinate all its aspects with the engineers (including structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers), as well as with specialty consultants such as the decorator, audio-visual, acoustician, exterior envelope or civil engineer. We will also engage in the important dialog with the Landmark and Building agencies to make sure your project will be approvable.
Our third step is to produce the construction documents. These are the drawn and written instructions to the builder. These documents can be used to procure bids, and to obtain a building permit from the Department of Buildings.
During our fourth step, we will help you select an experienced and honest builder.
During our fifth and final step, we will observe the progress of construction at pre-determined intervals to ascertain that the project is being built in accordance with the design which you approved and obtained estimates for.

What services do we provide?
We provide basic services and specialty services. Basic services follow the process outlined above to design or renovate: single family houses, townhouses and brownstones, apartments, churches, restaurants, legitimate theaters, and adaptive reuse projects.
For our specialty services, we are typically engaged early on before you buy the land, apartment or building you are planning to renovate or build anew.  Such pre-design services include: planning, site selection, programming, space utilization, and feasibility studies.

What is your next step?
Call us for a free consultation at 917-292-2131. You may also email us at: manuel@mergalarchitecture.com, with your inquiries.  We will respond ASAP.
About Me

I grew up in San Juan, a traditional city in PR. Its narrow streets protect from the intense sun, change occurs slowly and always refers to the local building tradition. Buildings are built for the ages, of durable and functional materials that perform well in the local climate.  One can reach virtually any destination on foot. Today, we call this sustainability, but in San Juan this way of building and living has been around for over four centuries. 

Prior to establishing my own office, I worked for 14 years with Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, designing many building types such as: restaurants (the Rainbow Room and Windows on the World - both in New York City), and theaters (The Wilma in Philadelphia and The Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg). I honed my skills in Classical Architecture working 4 years with Ferguson Shamamian, and 10 years with Cooper Robertson & Partners (7 as a partner) on various houses and small traditional buildings. My projects have been published in Architectural Record, Period Homes and Traditional Building. I have contributed articles for various publications including: The Classicist, Stone World, and Construction News

"I have had many great mentors during my development as an architect. If I had to choose only 2,
I would have to mention Hugh Hardy and Jaque Robertson. Hugh’s joy was contagious and he always inspired us to celebrate the clients’ wishes by designing buildings and interiors with exuberant joy and an expressive use of materials and forms. Jaque approached any commission, whether large or small, by lovingly focusing on every detail from the point of view of the end user and never his own ego".

I have taught in the Interior Design Department at FIT and been a guest critic at CUNY's Architecture School and a guest lecturer at NYU's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. I also lectured at several Traditional Building Conferences and taught a professional seminar at the Institute for Classical Architecture & Art.  I am the recipient of the first prize for the first Hispanic Architectural Talent Search Competition. I am also on the Smithsonian Institution's Latino, Hispanic, and Latin American Art Collection and a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Congress for New Urbanism and a Fellow Emeritus of the Institute for Classical Architecture & Art. I am licensed in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and a member of the NCARB. I graduated with a first Master's in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a second Master's in Urban Design from Columbia University.
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