“Don’t go into residential,” I was told while earning my Masters Degree in Architecture. “It’s boring. It’s unimportant. You’ll wind up being more of a marriage counselor than designer.” All wrong.
I spent more than twenty years in commercial architecture, most notably as an associate at the highly acclaimed commercial firm Hickok Warner Fox, later Hickok Cole Architects (HCA), in Washington DC. When I left HCA to co-found Square 134 Architects, I took on more urban residential projects, which eventually prompted the decision to leave commercial architecture altogether to focus on residential design. Commercial work has its upsides (I step back in now and again), but residential is where my heart is.
Since 2010, I have been blessed to work with great clients and great builders in the wonderful residential neighborhoods of northern Virginia and occasionally elsewhere. One of the great attributes of Arlington, McLean, and Alexandria is that the houses from fifty, sixty, eighty years ago were designed thoughtfully and built well. They retain their charm, but the rooms are small — especially the kitchens, bathrooms and closets — and families often want to expand without moving.
My job is to reconfigure these gems– often by going up or out– without compromising their charm. Additions shouldn’t look like an elephant hiding behind a tree. There’s always a better solution.
No two projects are alike because no two clients are alike. Each has different needs and goals, their own style, and unique vision. The challenges vary but the rewards are the same: giving people a house that welcomes them home every day.