Since its founding in 1957, Bentel & Bentel, Architects/Planners AIA has acquired a reputation for superior contemporary design. Our work is consistently bold, modern, creative and beautifully resolved. It spans a wide range of building types and scales, from urban environments to refined interiors and furnishings; and demonstrates our belief that great design manifests its virtues in both its practical and aesthetic qualities. We draw inspiration from the locale – local history, regional styles, prevailing building methods, environmental conditions and the nearby landscape or urban context. In the end what we seek is unprecedented design that redefines rather than reproduces prevailing conventions.
Our projects have garnered numerous international, national and regional awards for design excellence from the International Interior Design Association, the American Institute of Architects, the Society of American Registered Architects, the James Beard Foundation and Hospitality Design. Our partners have been inducted in both the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and the Hospitality Design Hall of Fame; and hold prominent positions within the professional, national and civic organizations such as the AIA Committee on Design and Peer Reviewers of the General Services Administration. Our work is routinely published in professional journals including Architecture, Architectural Record, Architecture Design (AD), Metropolis, Interior Design, Hospitality Design, Contract Magazine, L’Arca and World Architecture News.
Our firm currently has four principal members: The late Dr. Frederick R. Bentel, FAIA, and the late Maria A. Bentel, FAIA, were founding partners of the firm. Fred was a graduate of the School of Architecture at M.I.T. and practiced for over 40 years. Dr. Paul Bentel, FAIA, a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and M.I.T., currently combines practice with teaching at Columbia University where he is Professor of Architecture and History; Peter Bentel, AIA, is a graduate of Princeton University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design and lectures extensively in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Dr. Carol Rusche Bentel, FAIA, is a graduate of Washington University, St. Louis and M.I.T., Chairperson of the AIA Committee on Design and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. Susan Nagle, ASID is a graduate of the New York School of Interior Design where she is currently on the Board of Trustees. The firm studio is located in Locust Valley, New York, where it has practiced since its inception.
We create spatial and material situations that engage and inspire people. We believe that the design process is consummated in real things – urban areas, buildings, interiors, furniture and other objects of daily use. That is why we seek emotive power for our work principally in the experience of physical attributes rather than through reference or allusion. Yet, we aspire to foster experiences that are more than sensually gratifying. We propose that the first-hand experience of great design can be rapturous; and that such aesthetic encounters hold value for both the individual and society at large. The revelation of quality in the design of real, proximate and unmediated situations induces pleasure for the person and counteracts the blunting of our collective sensibilities by the image-mongering that passes for much design today.
Because we believe that great design presents the new and resists the conventional, it is important to us that our work is unprecedented and authentic. In the pursuit of design that is not corrupted by extraneous quips, jingles or images, we research the practical demands that our clients’ use will place on our work as well as the natural limitations of the materials and technologies by which it will be realized. We commence our design work with a series of collaborative dialogues with the client about the site, the program, and the means and materials of building. Together, we develop and evaluate the spatial and material possibilities of a project.
These practical exigencies are not limitations for our work but rather the means by which we seek the latent principles of that use and the untested potential of those technologies. We bring to this task of investigation broad experience and training in the arts, the building crafts as well as the physical and social sciences. All of the partners in our studio have backgrounds in engineering, construction, history and the arts. We all originally studied and practiced as visual and performing artists (painting, printmaking and sculpture; theater, music and dance). We normally work in large and full-scale models and drawings using the proposed materials for a project with an eye to their effect and dramatic character. We consider collaborations with artists and craftspeople essential to this process. Our ultimate goal is the exploration of the possible in order to achieve the highest level of craftsmanship and detail that engages people in an unprecedented way.
We cherish the role that the design of the man-made environment can play as the stimulator of individual revelation, social intercourse and community identity. Though challenging, our design work is not arcane. We welcome the people who use what we design and seek their intelligent engagement with it. The power of our work is attributable to the thoughtful and creative structuring of the parts into an absorbing whole. We strive to make this self-evident.