Residential Design

VOL4 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 20 of 87

Making Shade HALFLANTS + PICHETTE STUDIO SARASOTA AND TAMPA, FLORIDA Two years ago, an especially bad storm swept through Sarasota, Florida, which is no stranger to severe weather. Architect Michael Halflants, who does not live in a house of his own design, called up a former client and asked if he could bring his family over to ride it out. The house and its occupants made it through unscathed. Michael is a partner in the design/ build firm Halflants + Pichette Studio and also an associate professor of architecture at the University of South Florida, Tampa, where he leads the housing studio and teaches seminars in tropical architecture. He knows a thing or two about designing for the demand- ing climate in coastal Florida. Originally from Belgium, Michael received his master's degree in architec- ture from the University of Florida. He teamed up with architect John Pichette during the go-go days of the housing boom. "We each had independent, bud- ding practices," Michael recalls. "And he had more work than I did, so he asked me whether I'd be interested in joining him. That was back in 2006 at the top of the market—great times; everyone was busy. Six months into the practice, everything went down. We turned to design/build to survive the recession." John's previous experience as a project manager for a firm that designed large commercial buildings helped him breeze through his contractor's license. "John is on the tail end, and I'm on the front end," says Michael, who leads the design work. But what began as a survival strategy more than a decade ago has become the firm's core approach to practice. "The argument we make to clients is, no one will care as much about executing the design as we do," Michael explains. "And it's true. We've become better architects because the drawings have to be done directly for subcontractors. It's a far less cumbersome process, as well. Instead of a sub talking to the contrac- tor and then the contractor calling the architect, we have the architect directly on-site, answering questions as they come up—and giving the right answer. And it's absolutely true that it lowers our liability risk overall." The Right Mix Currently, the firm's portfolio is a mix of single-family custom residential and multifamily design. On the custom projects, the firm is almost always the builder, too. "We work with other build- ers, but our preferred way is to do both the design and build," says Michael. Business is good again in South Florida, but the biggest boom is in mul- tifamily projects. In fact, for Halflants + Pichette, the ratio of residential building types has flipped from 80 percent single family to 80 percent multifamily. So This page: Principals Michael Halflants and John Pichette. The Whitaker Lofts project marks the first foray into development for the architect-led design/build firm. The architects plan to sell the residential units and retain the retail long-term. Photo: Halflants + Pichette Studio Photo: Halflants + Pichette Studio Photo: Halflants + Pichette Studio 21 VOL. 4, 2019 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM PRO-FILE DESIGN/BUILD

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