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J. Bryant Boyd Architect Design-Build celebrates its 25th anniversary.

By Kat Zeman

J. Bryant Boyd loves history and architecture. When he formed his firm, he took inspiration from the pre-industrial revolution era. “When they built a home, the architect was also the builder. They were one and the same,” he says. “So we decided to take that idea and bring it back to life. After the industrial revolution, everything became compartmentalized.”

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Lori Carroll & Associates engages its clients early in the process to create high-end homes

that speak to individual style.

By Tim O’Connor

People are more mindful of their dollars in this post-recession world; less extravagant with their expenditures than they used to be. In the home building market, that has led to fewer of the mega mansions of the 2000’s, however, clients are still looking for the quality and luxury lifestyle, albeit a more modest size. They want what they want, but maybe not on such a grand scale, interior designer Lori Carroll says. The homes might not be as large, but Carroll in finding ways to make the detailing every bit as impressive.

Carroll has been in the design business for more than 35 years. She began her career working in a local furniture store while attending the interior design program at the University of Arizona. After graduating, Carroll started her own interior design business. She partnered with two associates for more than a dozen years before venturing out on her own, becoming president and sole owner of Lori Carroll & Associates in 2000.

Changes by owners after construction has begun on their new homes are typical for many construction companies, but not for Hiland Hall Turner Architects. “I’ve never had a client say, ‘I want to alter a space,’ after construction began,” owner Hiland Hall Turner says. “The design process in this office is an educational experience for the architect and client that allow them to interact directly throughout the design process. All custom residences are built around the lifestyle of the family and the will and desires of our owners. Because clients are so integrated into the design process, they are as familiar with their home as I am when we had completed the design phase.”

Turner remains involved with his projects until completion. “We spend quite a bit of time developing a relationship with our clients during the predesign phase,” Turner says. “This allows me insight into their needs, desires and goals, as well as perspective on personal lifestyle. Communication is key, and because of these insights, I generally achieve 90 percent of my clients’ desires. From there, it is revising and amending the design to the owners’ specific direction and desires. 

Word of mouth often is key to helping companies grow their business, and it was along this line – encouragement from a friend – that brought Foster Dale Architects (FDA) to where it is today. Principal and owner Foster Dale had experience working with firms in Philadelphia and Chicago, when he started doing smaller, custom residential projects in Chicago. He launched FDA 17 years ago when he designed a custom home for a friend. Earlier this year, FDA worked with that same friend’s father to complete a historic renovation on a home to make it accessible. 

The ongoing goal of FDA, Dale explains, is to create projects that “delight and inspire” its customers. By delivering on this goal, the firm continues to drive that word-of-mouth business.

HKIT Architects is anticipating a boom in senior housing developments this year and is working to become more innovative and creative while working under increasingly tighter budgets. 

The Oakland, Calif.-based firm was founded in 1948 and is known for its multifamily housing design in the Bay Area, Principal Thomas Brutting says. “This has been a major component of our practice for more than 60 years,” he adds. “We are innovative and versatile in meeting our clients’ needs. Our broad experience enables us to change with the times and meet the current challenges of designing multifamily housing.”

In addition to multifamily housing, HKIT Architects also designs educational facilities and municipal buildings. Those three areas of focus have allowed the company to remain diversified and better able to ride the economic downturns, Brutting says. A majority of HKIT Architects’ work is in California, but the company is willing to go outside the state depending on the client and project. 

Mitchell Wilk Architecture's efficiency, experience and belief in closely communicating with homeowners throughout the new home construction process more than make up for the firm's small staff. 

“We are a small company that can handle large custom home design in a way that many companies my size can’t,” partner and President Doug Wilk says, noting that all three of the company's employees are senior architects with more than 55 years of combined experience. “We believe in exploring designs, but are very efficient in how we go about things. We know how to put a house together and can do it in a short time frame.”

Based near the Connecticut border in Rye, N.Y., Mitchell Wilk Architecture provides new designs and plans to clients in Westchester, N.Y., and Fairfield, Conn., counties as well as in the Hamptons region of Long Island, New York. Homes designed by Mitchell Wilk Architecture range in value from $1 million to $10 million. “We will do small or large renovations for any client who appreciates fine architecture and wants designs that are thoughtfully done,” Doug Wilk adds. 

Toronto’s Altius Architecture doesn’t think like other firms. While some firms seek out attention for the showiness of their exterior designs, Altius believes in designs with a purpose. “We don’t do design for design’s sake,” Principal Graham Smith explains. “We’re not doing these buildings that are more sculptures than buildings.”

Altius has built a strong reputation in Toronto as a firm that believes in creating sustainable single-family homes, and Principal Cathy Garrido says that comes from the firm’s adherence to the tradition of the master builder. Along with Principal Trevor McIvor, Garrido and Smith were students at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture in the early 1990s. During their time there, they started what would become Altius as a design/build firm that also performed general contracting work. As Smith explains, this experience gave Altius a solid understanding of the building process. “It was a very hands-on approach,” he says. “Our catchphrase at the time was that we were ‘designers who build.’”

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