Playing favorites is a dangerous game. It’s one we’ve more or less avoided for more than a dozen years. And yet, “The List” is a tried-and-true formula for magazines, one that always stirs interest inside and outside of the enterprise. So why did we finally succumb to doing our own “best of” compendium?

Maybe because, after all this time, we feel sufficiently oriented on the residential architecture discipline to do so. But mostly, we think it’s a service to the profession as a whole. Our list contains some stars, but overall it’s a broad collection of people who simply—day in and day out—do very good, interesting work. Ultimately, we didn’t do all the parsing ourselves. We relied heavily on our design award winners, who are chosen by a jury of peers—other architects with an affinity for housing.

So, this isn’t merely our list—it’s yours, too. And it also belongs to all the potential clients who’ve called us over the years asking who we’d recommend to do their houses for them. We get plenty of these calls from colleagues as well—on behalf of themselves or their friends. We put this short list together as an end-of-year tribute to this admirable profession. And, through our redesigned website, we’ll use this roster to augment our already extensive list of firms we’ve profiled in the past or whose projects we’ve “visited” in case study form.

It pains us to leave some excellent architects off this list. But rest assured, if you’ve appeared in the magazine, we love you, too. And if we haven’t met you yet, we look forward to a beautiful courtship in the near future.

Read expanded versions of each profile, as well as behind-the-scenes Q&As with firm leaders about the residential design profession, by clicking the profile links to the right. We asked them a number of entertaining questions, including who’d they’d hire to design their own house—the short list continues!