What inspired you to become an architect? Can you give us an idea of your background? I have always been interested in well-proportioned space. Architecture allows me to craft experiences for people and evoke emotional responses, even in unexpected places.
Why Houston? What makes Houston special for architecture?
I was born in Houston and grew up in Houston, but I’m also drawn to Houston – which is something different entirely. I went away for college and grad school and then lived in New York City for a few years, but eventually I came back here.
I don’t love the beach or the ocean. I don’t love the mountains. Houston is not a place of inherent natural wonder and beauty, but there’s something about this middle landscape – this normal, average Texas landscape – that I find particularly beautiful. Trees are the things that make Houston exquisite. They are kind of like porches: They create places along the street where people stop and get together. The language of trees feels accessible to me. Most of the beautiful oak trees we see here were planted; there isn’t a beautiful forest that we’re destroying. It’s a place where an architect can improve the landscape.
Do you have anything that you would really like to design that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet? I worked on schools, but I have never designed a school from the ground up. Schools are extremely fascinating. When we’re young and impressionable, the spaces that surround us really do have a lasting impact on our psyches.
Favorite style or architecture or favorite architect, why?
As our practice has developed, all sorts of different types of projects have just naturally come into our office. Some people want more traditional architecture, some want to remodel what they have, and some people want very modern buildings. We don’t always have control of the opportunities we get. On the other hand, I’ve made a deliberate decision to grow a practice in the midst of clients who seek us out because they want to work with us, even though the styles of their projects may vary greatly. I don’t feel like there needs to be a certain look or a prescribed style for the work that we do. I like many different approaches to architecture. It’s far more important to me to make well-formed spaces with a strong sense of purpose.
What do you think is architecture’s next big style shift? Do you think there should be one? I don’t think that styles need to be contained or restricted. For example, we don’t focus on particular styles or imagery. Rather, our clients’ projects tend to grow out of creating spaces and balancing the history of their sites, spatial proportions and the quality of light. There are parts of our work that reflect certain stylistic directions. But I’m more interested in blending concepts. For example, I like to take seemingly polarized ideas like free plans and traditional plans, and melding them. It’s liberating when you consider that you don’t have to just accept one or the other. When you allow room for hybrids, you can create different kinds of space where everyone can find a bit of ownership, understanding and, ultimately, joy.