For a while, Michael Macrina's office in his Lake Avenue home in St. James was sufficient space. But, he said, the space he converted from a garage got cramped as his business grew and added two employees – a good sign.
A move to a formal office was the natural thing to do, Macrina said, and so he landed at 21 Main Street in Stony Brook village about a month ago. While he originally wanted to explore setting up shop at Stony Brook Village Center, Macrina said the property owner Eagle Realty suggested this building, which was formerly the Daniel Gale Sotheby's International annex building.
"I’ve always thought this was a charming little building," he said.
Since then, he said he has received a few inquiries from folks who noticed his arrival.
"Most architects work out of their home, so it’s unusual in that sense," he said. "I think having an office on Main Street, in my local town, that was the goal."
His own architectural savvy came in handy when reconfiguring the office space, which measures about 650 square feet in size.
"When I looked at the space it was a challenge," he said. "I wanted to make sure I can grow in the space. I designed and built my own desks, so I made sure I could accommodate several workstations in the space."
Macrina has worked in the field of architecture since 1996, after he completed his education at New York Institute of Technology. He said he started out traveling to Southampton for work, but eventually grew tired of the commute. Now Macrina lives in Stony Brook with his wife and two children and has an office just a few minutes from his home.
Architecture is not a recession-proof business, Macrina said, as home renovations or expansions are many times considered a luxury rather than a necessity. But, he said, Hurricane Sandy has kept him busy doing restorations on the south shore. Just as doctors specialize in certain areas of medicine, architects specialize in certain areas, and for Macrina that's residential architecture – "well-detailed homes," he said – with some commercial work on occasion.
It's also a word-of-mouth kind of business.
"We do not advertise," he said. "Every job we get is a recommendation from a previous job. It’s always important to treat every job you do as just as important as the next one."
Having the new space has already helped his business, Macrina said. He has tons of samples and products to show clients, which he couldn't always do in his home office.
"We’re able to organize ourselves in a different way, to provide better communication, better products for our clients," he said. "... And doing work right around the corner from your house, nothing beats it. To be a local merchant right here in your town is very exciting."