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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certainly earned its share of accolades. A recent project, 123 Hillcrest, won top honors in the 2016 George Matsumoto Prize competition, run by North Carolina Modernist Houses, a nonprofit "archive documenting, preserving, and promoting residential modernist architecture." The Hillcrest project won both 1st place in the juried awards and 2nd place in the "People's Choice" portion of the compe- tition. The house was also included on the juried AIA Triangle Tour of Residential Architecture. There have been other awards as well, as designer and builder and as design/builder. Remodel and Relearn Despite the modernist honors, Will's company does not confine itself to con- temporary work. That would be tough to do, given a devotion to rehabbing existing structures. Working on the older houses has been like a graduate program in design and construction, he says, giving him a sincere appreciation for the designers and builders who've come before him. "We've worked on just about every type of building and every era of construction. I feel like I'm pretty deep in my understand- ing from that," he explains. "I think it's fun as a designer to learn a new language. To say, let's look at this house—what are the overhangs like, what is the scale of the wings, what is the language of the house? How would it like to be added on to?" That doesn't mean the right choice is always to follow the style of the original, he adds. "Sometimes the best way to honor a house is to make sure the addition contrasts with it." Asked if he has a preference for modern or traditional, he demurs a bit. "Here's my elevator speech on that: If we're doing work on new houses, we feel we should be working in this time period. It doesn't feel genuine not to. But if we're doing additions or working on an existing building, we've done it both ways—adopt the language or depart from the language. If we adopt the language, the finished product is some- thing no one could tell we've added on to." Rethink and Rename Turning 50 is a good time for a big think. What's next starts to loom large, even if lies in the distant future. For business owners, the important questions are how do you continue to build value in your company and how do you make that value transferable? Part of the answer may lie in detaching the product from the person. Hence, "re.design.build." According to Will, the change allowed him to acknowledge the collaborative team that the company has become over the years. There are more than a dozen on staff; several have been there for more than a decade. "It was starting to feel disingen- uous just to have me on the banner. It isn't just about me; we have really great people who do very good work. Taking my name off the banner changes the way clients look at us, too. It helps them feel like they're hiring a company and not just a person." Will worked with a college friend who's a graphic designer to devise the new brand- ing. "We wanted to have a name and a brand that's customer friendly—a little bit fun but not too goofy. The name has built- in flexibility; it can even rebrand itself." What he didn't do was restructure the company. "I researched it—the implica- tions of restructuring on the insurance side, the accounting side—and it really felt like just changing the name was the way to go." The company remains a sole-propri- etor corporation. But the rebranding extends all the way through the company—to work vehicles, T-shirts for those in the field, signs on site—all are emblazoned with "re.design. build" in "OSHA approved safety colors," says Will. When you call the company telephone, a recording explains the name change. When you Google it, the old name is the top hit but there's a redirect to the new, snazzy website. The rework is still a work in progress. But, the times they are a-changin'. —S. Claire Conroy PRO-FILE BUILD Right: The award-winning Graham Street residence captures rainwater run-off from the roof with a harvesting system. Photo: Mark Herboth 26 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM VOL. 2, 2017

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