Luxe surveys nine leading architects on timeless design and crafting authentic homes.
RENEE DEL GAUDIO
Boulder | rdg-architecture.com
PHOTO: DAVID LAUER
BACK TO BASICS: I look deeply into the climate, landscape and history of a place for design inspiration. I can arrive at an authentic design only after integrating these elements. You know a building connects to its location when you could not imagine it anywhere else.
HISTORY LESSON: The ancient Greeks taught us the importance of harmonizing different components of a structure and creating right-size buildings in proportion and scale. We often forget those lessons in 21st-century architecture.
LASTING IMPRESSION: I traveled a long way to see Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s thermal baths at Vals, and it was one of the most memorable architectural moments of my life. It is all about the human sensory experience: visual, olfactory, auditory and tactile.
San Francisco | jensenarchitects.com
PHOTO: JOE FLETCHER
UNSUNG HERO: Rebar is a material that you don’t actually see, but it miraculously allows lumbering concrete to become a light and graceful dancer.
ACOUSTICS MATTER: It’s important to consider the properties of sound–you can’t see it in photographs, but you feel it when you are in a space. Through the magic of synesthesia, you can almost see sound qualities while in an acoustically well-considered place.
WISH LIST: I long for a return to less-smart homes. I sense many of my clients feel that connectivity has reached a saturation point and the well-designed space will be one that abstains from distractions in favor of mindful connection to place.
Miami | renegonzalezarchitects.com
PHOTO: MICHAEL STAVARIDIS, COURTESY RENE GONZALEZ ARCHITECTS
NATURE AND NURTURE: Every project begins with understanding the location and a site’s unique qualities. This also applies to cultural conditions, as was the case with a house we designed in Key Biscayne that depicts its Latin setting with the inclusion of patios, portales (porches) and persianas (louvered screens).
FORWARD THINKING: Modernism will always be popular in architecture, but I wish nostalgia would fall out of style. Contemporary design, which still adheres to many of the tenets of modernism, is timeless. Some people find comfort in nostalgia and pastiches of historical styles, but the end result never feels authentic to me.
LIVING IN HARMONY: Our design for the Prairie Avenue house in Miami Beach, a luxury residence elevated in response to the environmental threat of sea-level rise, acknowledges traditional precedents such as native American Chickee huts and the community of Stiltsville. It is adapted to contemporary living in sync with the changing environment.
KATHY HANCOX AND MICHAEL KOTHKE
Tucson | hkassociates.com
PHOTO: BILL TIMMERMAN
SPOTLIGHT: In our projects, we deliberately study the effects of the sun on a space, yet there are moments when a sunbeam, calculated for arrival in a specific room, offers an even greater result. Those are the best happy accidents.
CASE STUDY: We’re designing a home in Tucson that embodies our passion for framing views, capturing light and revealing spatial character. The site has a stellar visual and physical connection to an iconic mountain range. With its well-positioned sight lines, the home showcases the essence of its setting.
BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER: We strive for cozy, comfortable spaces regardless of the square footage. High ceilings will always be popular but it’s better to focus on proportion rather than height.
Seattle | reruchastudio.com
PHOTO: ALEX HAYDEN
CLASSIC VS. TRENDY: When a client is focused on a trend, they’re often missing the bigger picture of permanence and place. Natural light, however, will always be in fashion. We have an innate attachment to the sun here in Seattle. The projects that harness this best are the ones that feel eternal.
INFLUENTIAL BUILDING: I traveled to France on a tour of Le Corbusier’s architecture and Villa Savoye really resonated with me. The curved ramps take you from one space to another culminating in a rooftop garden filled with sunlight and stillness. It taught me spaces don’t have to be perfect.
UNTAPPED MATERIAL: Brick has a sense of permanence. I’m dreaming of the right client, budget and site to use it.
New York | sawyerberson.com
PHOTO: JOSHUA MCHUGH
SPLURGE-WORTHY: The best quality windows are the first indication of thoughtfulness in a design, and they can by far make or break the final outcome of a project.
PROUD MOMENT: For a home in Southampton, New York, the client was excited to approach the architecture, landscape and interior decoration of the home in a comprehensive way. It was a rare and enjoyable occurrence to have oversight on every aspect of the residence.
EARLY INSPIRATION: I saw The Sound of Music at the age of 4 and was so impressed by the Von Trapp’s baroque classical villa. Since then, I have been inspired by grand ballrooms, which is a space sadly lost to history for most elevated clients. To have a grandly scaled and ornate room sparsely furnished so that a special event may take place truly makes the space extraordinary.
Atlanta | cbrandoningram.com
PHOTO: JEFF HERR
SOUTHERN CHARM: The South is full of inspiration. Perhaps the most celebrated house in all of Atlanta is known as Swan House. Built in 1928 by one of the country’s preeminent architects, Philip Shutze, it’s an icon of classic design. Charleston is also one of the most magical places. Its casual sophistication, haunting presence of history among a bustling modern city, and its quintessential Southern feeling are unparalleled. My favorites are the Miles Brewton House and Drayton Hall.
IN THE WORKS: We are in the midst of a large new estate in the Georgia Low Country, based on precedents from some of my favorite South Carolina houses. I’m taking inspiration from the past, but making it new and relevant in a way that doesn’t feel like a museum.
BIDDING ADIEU: Open-concept floor plans are on their way out. People are returning to the notion of rooms being rooms. Intimacy and coziness are hallmarks of great living spaces.
RYAN BOLLOM AND DK OSSEO-ASARE
Austin | lowdo.net
PHOTO: CHASE DANIEL
SUSTAINABLE STYLE: Our goal is to maximize design impact while keeping resource consumption and environmental impact to a minimum, so we prefer to work with natural and renewable materials like wood and bamboo, and metals like steel and copper, that can be recycled.
SUCCESSFUL ARCHITECTURE: The best spaces offer unexpected moments, new forms of interaction, and ultimately challenge us to engage with life, the environment and each other in different ways.
DREAM BUILDERS: We both started out as engineers but realized we wanted to pursue architecture after we finished our undergraduate degrees. We have a natural attraction to rigorous technical precision, while also feeling a need to solve open-ended problems that require creative solutions. Aiming to make the world more beautiful, we find that architecture ultimately becomes about building physical harmony.
Los Angeles | oonaghryan.com
PHOTO: CHASE DANIEL
WANDERLUST: I love Barcelona for its sheer variety of buildings–from Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila and Frank Gehry’s Golden Fish to Richard Meier’s Museum of Contemporary Art and EMBT’s Santa Caterina Market. But my favorite is the Barcelona Pavilion by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the International Exposition. Its sleek, elegant design combined with rich natural materials is a study in simplicity; it’s the essence of architectural modernism.
HEART OF THE HOME: Invest in a high-quality kitchen countertop. Kitchens are the focal point for family life. A good countertop should be durable, tell a story and stand the test of time. The island we designed for our Manhattan Beach Bowen house (shown) is custom terrazzo inspired by a handful of pebbles our client found on the beach. We blended a mix of colored stones in a sandy matrix to achieve the natural look.
HAVING A MOMENT: Seventies-style chic decor is back en vogue–think velvets, geometric patterns, warm palettes, funky textures and abstract silhouettes.