Architect as Master Builder

Some of you will be surprised to see our 2nd SPACE blog, just a week since our first one. Trust me when I say there is no shortage of material! From interesting clients, projects, process and the staff, the hardest decision is to decide what to write about first. For this one, I decided to talk about something that makes SPACEdifferent from any other design firm in the Lou, at least to my knowledge.

By now everyone has heard the term Design-Build. It is intended to bring a closer collaboration between architect and contractor. Sounds like a good thing right? Well I think so, but not all that long ago, the AIA (American Institute of Architects), prohibited architects to work with a contractor, drawing a hard line between the “professional”, and “labor”. Wasting no time, contractors took the lead in project development, and architects were left with a small piece of the pie. Today, most Design-Build firms are led by contractors. I had a brief stint at Clayco, from 1999 through 2004, and I learned a lot about how these firms are structured. Enter SPACE.

If you have been to Franco, a delicious little French Bistro in Soulard, you probably noticed the woven wood ceiling that floats above the space. Nearly cut from the budget due to a high estimate from the contractor, we crafted and installed it ourselves. The immense satisfaction we got for saving a signature piece of the design (which won our first AIA design award) and pleasing the client was all we needed to send us hurtling down the construction road.

In 2008, we took the giant step of establishing our own construction company, SPACE Constructors. Our intention was always just to build a small percentage of our “boutique” projects. We have built several noteworthy projects, including AIA award winner Bobo Noodlehouse, Vino NaDōz, Prime 1000 and EXO Lounge. We can take a client from concept design, all the way through move in. We stretched our revenue. We got our hands dirty, but we are better architects for it. Most importantly, our high design boutique projects can be more creative, unusual, and customized for our clients. Hell, some of what we build we don’t even know how to draw! Like how would you illustrate to a contractor you want to hang 650 steel butterflies in a migratory pattern over a dining room?

It’s fun being a master builder.

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