Chris Lewis Architects, LLC has provided architectural and consultation services in Central Texas since 1986, specializing in custom residential and light commercial projects. We’ll design a custom residence, restaurant, a kitchen or bathroom remodel, an office building, a gate or, frankly, just about anything that needs a thoughtful and creative design approach.
Chris grew up in Vermont and traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe before settling in Austin in the mid seventies. Working in diverse design and construction settings with projects ranging from custom furniture to residential framing and trim carpentry gave Chris an appreciation for the craft of building and the art of designing for builders. He enrolled in the University of Texas School of Architecture and worked for a local design / build firm after graduation. Five years later, he opened his own practice.
Below are a few of Chris’s thoughts about the design process.
Collaboration is key to a successful project. My goal is to have the owner, contractor, and architect dedicated to a team approach. Each party has a unique skill set and point of view to bring to the table. What is my definition of a successful project? A thoughtfully designed, carefully crafted unified whole that meets or exceeds the owner’s expectations, is delivered on time and on budget, and contributes in a positive way to the community.
…on sustainable design:
Sustainable design goes way beyond “green building” which has become a catch phrase for many new products and technologies. It’s not just about using bamboo flooring or a high efficiency air conditioner. Sustainable design involves a holistic approach that starts with exploring the building’s environment and asking questions:
How are you using the site? Where are the prevailing breezes and how can you capture them? Can existing trees be used for shade? What are the natural drainage pathways and is rainwater collection appropriate? Can you minimize impervious cover? Can you use orientation, porches, and roof overhangs to minimize energy use?
The choice of construction methodology should be appropriate for the microclimate and availability of locally sourced materials. Selection criteria concerning the choice of equipment and finishes should include a life cycle / initial expense analysis as well as energy efficiency,, local availability,, maintenance requirements, and sustainability.. Wherever possible consider recycling and adaptive re-use. Finally, the use of higher tech systems such as photovoltaic arrays, computerized equipment management software, geothermal heat pump systems, rainwater collection, and the like can further reduce your project’s energy use and overall impact on the environment.
Most contractors I have worked with over the years take serious pride in their work. They have a very difficult job and assume a great deal of responsibility and liability. They’re skilled at what they do and deserve your appreciation and respect.
An owner’s contribution to the design and construction process is vital. Timely communication is critical to seeing your goals met. Be as clear as you can regarding your priorities and demand that your architect and builder listen to you. Be willing to take advice….if you’ve chosen your architect and builder well they will assist you in realizing your goals and you can draw on their experience to reach even better solutions . Every project involves some degree of compromise ….keep your focus on the big picture and don’t sweat the small stuff.