“Elisabeth Martin has proved to be the perfect architect for my brownstone renovation! I hired her after interviewing half dozen others who also had extensive brownstone experience. She had the right combination of creative vision and practicality and I liked her straightforward, high-energy personality right away. She spent the time to “window shop” with me to get a bead on my tastes and preferences and then artfully guided my choices and always offered alternatives. I didn’t need to add an interior designer to the project since Elisabeth fulfilled that role well. MDA designgroup is a small firm and as its principal, Elisabeth takes the lead in every project with a team of smart, resourceful staff to assist her.
My renovation of an UWS turn-of-the-century brownstone (ground floor/parlor floor duplex) was a major project: replacing a worn out greenhouse with a rear addition on the ground floor and new deck above it on the second floor, reversing the interior stairwell, converting windows into French doors to balconies, redesigning the kitchen and two bathrooms, and converting a second kitchen to a LR bar and utility room. One complicating factor is the team had to work around me as I lived in various parts of the apartment while work was being done in other sections. As in most complicated renovations, there were some timing delays and cost overages, but Elisabeth was very vigilant examining each extra expense and suggesting cost-saving alternatives.
Overall, I found MDA designgroup provided me with a strong design sense and clear opinions, seasoned with a willingness to find solutions that pleased my personal goals. I would enthusiastically recommend MDA designgroup.”– JZ, Client, Upper West Side Duplex, 2015
“I was introduced to Elisabeth Martin of MDA designgroup when discussing renovating our Manhattan duplex. I interviewed a number of architects but the decision to go with Elisabeth was easy. We got along from the first moment we met. She took the time to really listen to what we were trying to accomplish with the renovation, what we needed functionality wise from our space and what we wanted aesthetically. She then jumped in immediately with wonderful ideas of her own. I was so impressed with her enthusiasm and natural ability to take a space in and see how to make it the best it could be.
We worked together to develop a detailed and well-designed substantial master plan for the project. This involved a repositioned newly designed stair, a new kitchen, 3 full bathrooms, ample storage, structural elements, new lighting throughout, new finishes, a new HVAC system, an AV system and redesigning our entire backyard. Elisabeth and her MDA designgroup team were always patient with my many questions and concerns. They would work in items I’d request seamlessly and were happy to present me with design elements to select from and provide additional options based on my feedback.
As a first time renovator and a family new to Manhattan, we relied on Elisabeth’s ample connections in the area. She connected us with many very talented and pleasant craftsmen and tradesmen throughout the project and managed their work – from our main contractor to engineers to a stone expert to an AV specialist to an expeditor. Elisabeth and everyone at MDA designgroup kept the project on track and tirelessly handled any issues that arose. Elisabeth was an advocate for us with everyone involved in the project, including our condo board.
In the end, our home now suits us perfectly, has so many features we adore and is more than we could have hoped for. Our family and friends agree, we get compliments on anyone who comes over. I honestly do not think we would have gotten the same results with any other partner. Elisabeth Martin is a true pleasure to work with and a wonderful architect.” – JC, Client, Horatio Duplex, 2015
“I am currently working with MDA designgroup, Elisabeth Martin and Marsha-Ann Cadougan, on the renovation of a family limestone in Brooklyn. The house is a single family home and had not had any major renovations in many decades. The kitchen and bathrooms were dated and the home was quite dark. Embarking upon this renovation project was daunting and I was unsure if I would be able to make the house my ‘home’. Happily–and still with fingers crossed–I am on schedule to being two months away from having a home that is refreshingly modern, yet still encapsulates much of what make the homes in this area historic gems.
Elisabeth and Marsha-Ann have been indispensable since day one. MDA has guided me throughout the project, including designing the layout, filing for permits, selecting a contractor and leading site visits. They respond to my random questions and allay any concerns I have, while also thoughtfully addressing any issues that have arisen along the way. The guidance and insight they have brought to the process have kept me sane! (I am a first time renovator who has a knack for finding things to worry about.)
With respect to design, MDA spent hours working with me to capture those key elements that would personalize my home. They proposed multiple layouts of rooms and thoroughly addressed all pros and cons. At times we have had slight differences in opinion–for example, whether it was best for me to keep the window seats in my bedroom–and each time I have been more than pleased with the result. (I am happy to have kept the window seats at Elisabeth’s suggestion).
As with any project, at times the unexpected occurs. In the limited instances where this has taken place, MDA has quickly acted and presented me with solid alternatives. Elisabeth and Marsha-Ann work seamlessly with my contractor and throughout construction have helped manage any additional costs. Their expertise and advocacy (for me) has made all the difference.” – KM, Client, Prospect Lefferts Townhouse, 2016
“MDA was hired to deliver great design under a tight schedule and a disciplined schedule. The project brief was as demanding as I was as the client. Elisabeth, as owner, principal and chief designer, was tireless in her commitment to our project. Along with her team, Elisabeth was creative, practical and responsive. MDA’s ability to develop beautiful design solutions that were at once cutting-edge yet sensible was beyond impressive. MDA’s design intent remained sensitive and sensible throughout our intense process. MDA was also prepared to perform outside of its specific scope to ensure timely and successful execution–a rare and demanding responsibility for an architect. At times where the contractor was struggling, MDA tirelessly looked to bootstrap the roles and responsibilities of other professionals. This professional approach made a good project, a great project. We enthusiastically recommend MDA without hesitation or reservation.” – MG, Client, St. Johns Townhouse, 2014
“We hired MDA designgroup as we understood that they worked well with their clients, listened and understood their client’s needs and desires, and kept to within budget in a timely manner. Relocating and designing a new high-end kitchen for us that would increase function and storage presented a challenge within the existing space. Given code required setbacks, we could only build out to a small degree. It was remarkable to us that the resulting design is more in keeping with the character of the house than the original kitchen. Both family and friends agreed that the new kitchen design reorganized the former multiple, separate, adjacent spaces into great room centered on the act of cooking that is open to gathering on either side. MDA helped us identify cabinets, tile and counters within our budget and in keeping with our aesthetics, and directed us to where we could best purchase professional appliances. The kitchen not only speaks to our love of natural elements and warm, comforting materials, it also maximized the functionality of the house and its connection to the open landscape just outside the door. We have since entertained frequently and have found our new kitchen to be ideal for small and large gatherings alike.” – AS, Client, Concord Kitchen, 2012
“I hired MDA designgroup for the architectural design for my hair salon expansion. Although I was happy with the look of my original salon space, I decided to go with a different architect because I found the original designer difficult to work with. From our first meeting, Elisabeth Martin immediately put me at ease. It is obvious when you meet with her that she is someone who is extremely knowledgeable, but who also listens to the client. She is someone who understands the issues at hand and what needs to be done to get you where you need to go. I never felt like my project was too small for her attention In fact, I was always treated as though I was their top priority.
After meeting with the contractor to discuss specifics and one more meeting with her team, her office was able to provide completed drawings very quickly. The drawings took the best ideas from the original design but improved on the layout and lighting and mechanical conditions that were imperfect in the first iteration. The contractor was able to start as soon as I signed the lease and no time was wasted. Her team was readily available for walk throughs. Because of her highly attenuated attention to detail she caught something resulting from a miscommunication between the me and the contractor in the very early stage of being built that we were able to fix with no impact on the completion schedule.
The finished space, which doubles the original square footage and is connected by an opening, is as comfortably functional as it is beautiful. We chose many similar finishes to the original design and most people say that it looks as though it was always there, rather than having an add-on feel.
I could not recommend this company more highly. I am looking forward to the time I may work with them again.” – AT, Client, Union Beauty, 2015
“I’ve worked with Elisabeth for 17 years as a landscape designer (Groundworks Inc) on several of her projects for both public and private clients. She is inventive, creative, pragmatic and delightful to work with. Her attention to detail and client needs are paramount and always lead to successful projects. She is extremely conscientious and committed to the design, final product, budget, client satisfaction and deadlines. Elisabeth and her firm give 200 percent and then more! Her experience with public and private work is remarkable in that she can easily balance all facets of any job; we always enjoy working alongside her and her team. She is a mentor, friend and trusted professional that is creative, fun and discerning with problem solving. I cannot recommend Elisabeth and her firm enough.” – ASK, Colleague, Groundworks
“I am a General Contractor and Cabinetmaker, who specializes in high-end NYC projects. I have had the pleasure of working with many top architects and designers over a long career, and have had several wonderful experiences working with Elisabeth Martin and the staff at her firm, MDA designgroup. They are extremely talented, versatile, competent and true collaborators. Initially they work very closely with their Clients to confirm the goals of the project and then translate that understanding into excellent drawings and specifications which make bidding and planning easier. During construction, they are attentive and proactive helping to address any questions, issues or changes which may occur. They work tirelessly to improve projects as they progress and help to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget and to a very high standard. Through their efforts, the experiences have been good ones for all involved. In short, I recommend them highly.” – TN, Colleague, Custom Associates
“It’s been a great pleasure working with the team at MDA designgroup on many projects since 2005, serving residences, institutions and offices with their A/V needs. MDA’s commitment to excellence and to being extremely detailed.Their ability is to seamless integrate systems and equipment is exceptional and their clients are well-served in every project.” – KND, Colleague, Davidson Company