Residential Design

VOL3 2019

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Page 38 of 95

An Architect's Journey to Publication From architect to author and advocate, Kevin Harris recounts the story behind his book, "The Forever Home." BY KEVIN HARRIS, FAIA Let me start with a line from season one of "The Mindy Project," when Danny won't believe that Mindy's new date is an architect. He replies, "No one's really an architect, that's a job guys have in the movies." Is that what people think, that no one is an architect? In a country with more than 327 million people, the National Council of Architectural Registration Board counts 113,554 licensed architects. So there, we do exist! But why the unfamiliarity with what we do? For a profession that has been an essential aspect in establishing cultural identity, physical development, and elemental protection, why are architects only real in movies? Could this general unawareness be our own doing, or perhaps not doing? As a residential architect, I am continually astonished when clients say I am the only architect they know. The first time I heard this, I felt lucky. I know the local talent of my colleagues. But the tenth time? Did I have a monopoly on residential services due to my merits and talents, or was I the only available choice? Did clients desire what I had to offer, or was I simply an available and necessary expense to reach their end goal of a comfort- able home? Black and white questions with answers somewhere along the grayscale, but where? Curious about the truth, I leveraged some of my volunteer time with the American Institute of Architects to find out. What I discovered is that, indeed, there are very few residential architects. NCARB's count only amounts to one architect for every 2,881 people. To make this ratio more challenging, only 20 percent of AIA architects practice residential design. That ad- justs the ratio down to one in 14,405. Compare this to lawyers, with one for every 244, or physicians having one per 297. Thus, it is no surprise that more people don't know any residential architects when there are so few of us in this amazing profession. But this statistic has a distinct upside: the untapped op- portunity to increase the visibility and leverage the merits and talents that residential architects offer. In efforts to maximize the reach of my megaphone, I enter- tained the idea of publishing a book. I began reviewing other architectural publications and found most could be broadly sorted into these categories: a building, a style, a manifesto, or a monograph. While this standard classification seemed efficient, I was reluctant to follow the trend. Rather than educating resi- dential clients, the publications I reviewed focused more on educating, influencing, or impressing other architects. To be effective, I had to craft a message relevant to the worries, needs, and wants of potential custom residential clients and provide guidance in the process of working with an architect. Client Evolution Analyzing where clients lived or what they built or renovated before coming to me, it became clear that I was rarely the first option they sought. Most did not consider using an architect until after three and even four previous attempts at getting a home they loved. The sequence generally follows the same pattern: First, purchase a starter home. Next, more confident in how they live and what they want, hire a builder for a "custom" Photos by Chipper Hatter Kevin Harris, FAIA The homes Kevin Harris designs are rooted in architectural history (in this case, Frank Lloyd Wright) and tailored to the needs of each client and site. 39 VOL. 3, 2019 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM AIA CRAN

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