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The Architectural Process: An Interview with David Webber of Webber + Studio Architects

By David Webber, AIA

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

We began as a custom, full-service architectural practice in 1997. Our intent was and still is to provide thoughtful and innovative design solutions to a range of problems, issues and program requirements. Over the years we have honed our focus on solving all our design problems through the lens of four core principles: FUNCTIONALISM, REGIONALISM, MINIMALISM, EXPRESSIONISM.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Architectural design from the largest concept to the smallest detail. We have done projects as large as master-planning larger projects on large tracts of land, as well as on urban sites and as small as furniture and light fixture design and everything in between. Our wheelhouse is working on designs that range between 500sf additions to large 30,000sf buildings, but we have designed as large as 190,000sf.

What are some important questions to ask the architect before beginning the designing process?

How does your process work and how much involvement is ideal. We find that many architects work to some form of process whether defined or loose and since many clients, even experienced ones like to understand the structure, we think it is extremely helpful to explain how the process works with clients. Additionally, while we are full-service and know what our work/tasks are, and while we feel it is our job to bring thoughtful/completed ideas to clients so that they can select between great options, we still think clients who are engaged make the process run more smoothly, enjoy it the most and get the most out of it in terms of overall design value.

What are some important aspects to know about the architectural design process?

A good architect is usually answering both the questions that the clients pose and a large panel of questions that are on their own list to bring a client a better product. We tend to think that a very thorough design process is key to efficiency in the rest of the process. If a design is thoroughly figured out early in the process, then it is usually much easier to adapt, modify and fine tune than a design that was not figured out well in the beginning. In fact, once the basics are understood a wholesale change to the design is not usually difficult.

How do you suggest clients prepare for custom home building?

Make a list of what they are looking to achieve, either together or separately. We always tell clients that the areas where they may perceive conflict are usually the areas where the best ideas will come up. Addiitonally, collecting imagery that roughly represents things that are appealing to you is a great help at getting a peek inside your head. It is important, however, to identify what in any image is the thing to note since images usually have many different things in them. We would prefer to know if it is a stairway that you like versus an antique desk.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to designing homes?

It always takes longer and costs more than clients anticipate at the beginning. We try to keep clients abreast, but it is hard to do with constantly moving targets.

As an architect, please describe your ideal relationship with the homeowner for whom you are working.

We like to listen, think things through, and give recommendations. We like clients to listen, think things through and give decisions!

What advice do you have for the homeowner during this strenuous process?

Know that it is a very very inexact science what we do. Even though people have been building for millennia, I am amazed at how often there is NEW information about design and construction. That only makes the inexactitude that much more difficult to control.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

Our website: www.webberstudio.com.

David Webber, AIA
Webber + Studio, Architects
1220 Lavaca St.
Austin, TX 78701

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