Every month a group of international architects and designers converge on the internet to write about a single topic and publish from their own individual point of view. This is Architalks.
The idea of style for architects can be incredibly personal and specific and is rooted in the deepest depths of our psyche. Cue the voice of that guy from The Twilight Zone. I can’t even tell you the number of conversations I’ve had about the specifics of Modern versus Contemporary architecture or the nuances of Georgian versus Neo-Classical and Greek Revival. It’s a little mind-numbing. But like I said, style is important to most architects. When we were in school we were encouraged and expected to develop design solutions that reflected our own personal desires for Architecture through a complex and pseudo-utopian ideal of how we wanted to see the built environment around us. In short, we were taught that our designs were superior to the wants, wishes, desires and even requirements of the client or community at large. Not really a good foundation for a profession that is supposed to serve those clients and community.
After my education and at the start of my career as a professional I learned quickly that the projects I was working on were not mine. Even now, as I run my own firm, the projects I design are not mine. My ego must be cast aside, pushed down and made subordinate in deference to the wants, wishes, desires and budget (something else they don’t teach you about in school) of my clients. With this realization came an understanding that perhaps I shouldn’t have a style. That instead I should focus on solving the problems brought to me by my clients, allow their style to shine through and exert my creative energy in detailing and documentation. This can be frustrating, but I like to think that I’ve done well and had avoided creating a signature style for my practice.
But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I haven’t always longed for “that one client” or “that one project” that will allow me to rekindle that naive, doe-eyed architecture student in me and be free to design a signature home or building. And I’ve been lucky to have two such projects since starting my firm. These projects couldn’t be more different from each other in terms of program, material, location, client type….nearly every aspect except for design and style.
The first project was actually one of our first contracts as a new firm. The client’s came to us and were looking to downsize from their existing home in the Ouachita National Forest. They had one daughter in college, another one heading off soon and a 10 yo son who obviously wasn’t going anywhere. They had 22 acres near Lake Hamilton and wanted to build a new home just for them. What we created is a truly signature home that solved all the programmatic needs of their family but in a style that was all our own. We were free to create Rock Creek Modern.
The next project came to us last year. Three friends had started a new development company and were looking to design and build a modern, energy efficient spec home on a sloped site with incredible views of our capitol and downtown skyline. Being a spec home the program was fairly generic – 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, open loft design, and no wasted space – but we were free to design how we wanted. The materials needed to be low maintenance and economical and the interior design needed to be incredibly efficient to minimize the overall square footage. Thus was born The Butterfly House.
Though these two homes are incredibly different in many ways, the overall style is the same. Our signature style is one of minimalism with a strong display of structure and material. We strive for a design aesthetic that is economical and efficient that employs common materials in uncommon ways to create a striking visual appearance. Interior spaces are almost always multi-functional but with clearly defined space for the core Eat, Sleep, Bathe and Cook areas. Finally, more than just solving the programmatic concerns of our clients, we try to craft each of our homes as an experience rather than just a building.
For more words of wisdom, check out these other arch-bloggers.
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The AREsketches Style
Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Name That Stile!
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks : Style
brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
What Style Do You Build In?
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
You do you
Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Defining an Architect’s Style
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
What’s Your Style?
Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Should You Pick Your Architect Based on Style or Service?
Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
5 Styles of an Aspiring Architect
Kyu Young Kim – J&K Architects Atelier (@sokokyu)
Loaded With Style
Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Regression or Evolution : Style
Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
What’s in a Style?
Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Architectalks 23 – Style