Residential Design

Vol. 2, 2017

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

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Page 22 of 79

Once upon a time, new companies branded themselves after their founders. There was something solid and trustworthy about a real, accountable person standing behind a product or service. Architects especially were fond of this approach, as it expedit- ed the process of becoming a starchitect. ("My firm c'est moi," no matter how many young associate architects and designers contributed to the achievements, was the attitude.) Today's younger firms are moving away from the cult of the individual and the grab for authorship and toward names that reflect values, culture, and collaboration. When Will Alphin started his de- sign/build company in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., more than 20 years ago, he followed the well-worn course and named his fledgling company Alphin Design Build. As the firm matured and accumulated awards for its achievements in design and construction, Will and his namesake firm grew inextricably en- twined. Or so it seemed. This year, Will took the highly unusual tack of rebooting and rebranding his now venerable compa- ny. The new name? "" Twenty years building a reputation, only to start again from scratch? Why would a company choose to do this? "May- be it's a big mistake. But I feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders," says Will. "I didn't have qualms. I actually feel freer now to promote the company. I never had an Instagram account for the company before, I had a personal one. I'm in the background a little bit more. I think we can still do great work, and maybe even better work." Will started in the business as many builders do by working with his hands. He worked summers and holidays during school as a finish carpenter in a furniture shop and for a local remodeler. School was North Carolina State, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Environ- mental Design in Architecture (BEDA). When he graduated in 1989, he says, "it was not an era known for sustainable de- sign and protecting the environment. But I was real interested in that. So, I looked for someone who had that as a mission." Reuse and Renew After five or so years of apprenticeship, Will felt ready to go out on his own: "I bought a used pickup truck and a new saw." His hometown of Raleigh grew alongside his company, and clients developed a taste for houses that treat the environment with consideration. Will's inclination toward sustainable design solidified into a philoso- phy and a defined approach. "We only do infill houses," he states. "And some commercial and restaurant work. It's about not feeding sprawl." The company will renovate when possible, or rebuild if necessary. But don't call those rebuilds "tear downs." "We dismantle and donate," he explains. "We wouldn't tear down a house and put it in a landfill." PRO-FILE BUILD Name Changer RE.DESIGN.BUILD RALEIGH, N.C. Left: Will Alphin reboots his company's identity from Alphin Design Build to "" Below: Will's company designed and built 123 Hillcrest, which won first place in the 2016 Matsumoto Prize competition. On the main level, a sliding door system helps the urban house live large on its lot. Photos of 123 Hillcrest: James West/JWest Productions LLC VOL. 2, 2017 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM 23

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