Launch Slideshow

Sheet metal and wood battens clad the exteriors, while cork and fiber-cement boards form the interior finish materials.

project highlights for dan shipley, faia

project highlights for dan shipley, faia

  • Dan Shipley, FAIA, values corrugated metal for its tough character and tactile look.

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    Dan Shipley, FAIA, values corrugated metal for its tough character and tactile look.

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    Danny Turner

    Dan Shipley, FAIA, values corrugated metal for its tough character and tactile look.

  •  He specified it for the cladding of his new office space on the southern edge of downtown Dallas.

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    He specified it for the cladding of his new office space on the southern edge of downtown Dallas.

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    Danny Turner

    He specified it for the cladding of his new office space on the southern edge of downtown Dallas.

  • Metal and wood screens provide passive cooling and privacy to Shipley's office.

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    Metal and wood screens provide passive cooling and privacy to Shipley's office.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    Metal and wood screens provide passive cooling and privacy to Shipley's office.

  • The straightforward building offers Shipley and his staff plenty of space to store material samples, an important component of their client meetings.

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    The straightforward building offers Shipley and his staff plenty of space to store material samples, an important component of their client meetings.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    The straightforward building offers Shipley and his staff plenty of space to store material samples, an important component of their client meetings.

  • On the facade of Ford Trimotor House, a 1,900-square-foot residence in Dallas' Urban Reserve development, vertical metal bands humanize the scale of the corrugated metal walls.

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    On the facade of Ford Trimotor House, a 1,900-square-foot residence in Dallas' Urban Reserve development, vertical metal bands humanize the scale of the corrugated metal walls.

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    James F. Wilson

    On the facade of Ford Trimotor House, a 1,900-square-foot residence in Dallas' Urban Reserve development, vertical metal bands humanize the scale of the corrugated metal walls.

  • The home mixes warm wood detailing...

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    The home mixes warm wood detailing...

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    James F. Wilson

    The home mixes warm wood detailing...

  • ...with metal and concrete.

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    ...with metal and concrete.

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    James F. Wilson

    ...with metal and concrete.

  • Shipley named a new house and studio "Swordfish Trombone House" in tribute to an album by singer-songwriter Tom Waits. The Dallas project blends various materials to create a rich architectural texture.

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    Shipley named a new house and studio "Swordfish Trombone House" in tribute to an album by singer-songwriter Tom Waits. The Dallas project blends various materials to create a rich architectural texture.

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    Craig D. Blackmon FAIA

    Shipley named a new house and studio "Swordfish Trombone House" in tribute to an album by singer-songwriter Tom Waits. The Dallas project blends various materials to create a rich architectural texture.

  • At a 1,490-square-foot project in Dallas' Urban Reserve development, Shipley employed metal grating to form a dramatic entry ramp.

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    At a 1,490-square-foot project in Dallas' Urban Reserve development, Shipley employed metal grating to form a dramatic entry ramp.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    At a 1,490-square-foot project in Dallas' Urban Reserve development, Shipley employed metal grating to form a dramatic entry ramp.

  • Unexpected interior sightlines, such as the view from the living room up through the second-floor staircase...

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    Unexpected interior sightlines, such as the view from the living room up through the second-floor staircase...

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    Charles Davis Smith

    Unexpected interior sightlines, such as the view from the living room up through the second-floor staircase...

  • ...enliven the space without breaking the budget.

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    ...enliven the space without breaking the budget.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    ...enliven the space without breaking the budget.

  • Often, Shipley makes relatively minor adjustments to an existing home that completely change the way his clients live. This 2004 renovation to the rear of a house in Dallas...

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    Often, Shipley makes relatively minor adjustments to an existing home that completely change the way his clients live. This 2004 renovation to the rear of a house in Dallas...

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    Charles Davis Smith

    Often, Shipley makes relatively minor adjustments to an existing home that completely change the way his clients live. This 2004 renovation to the rear of a house in Dallas...

  • ...includes a new master suite, carport, and studio...

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    ...includes a new master suite, carport, and studio...

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    Charles Davis Smith

    ...includes a new master suite, carport, and studio...

  • which connect the building to its backyard.

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    which connect the building to its backyard.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    which connect the building to its backyard.

  • In 2005, Shipley added a new master suite onto a house he designed in 1996.

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    In 2005, Shipley added a new master suite onto a house he designed in 1996.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    In 2005, Shipley added a new master suite onto a house he designed in 1996.

  • The Eulogy, Texas, addition, known as the Freezer Panel Walkout, uses insulated freezer panels as its main structural component.

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    The Eulogy, Texas, addition, known as the Freezer Panel Walkout, uses insulated freezer panels as its main structural component.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    The Eulogy, Texas, addition, known as the Freezer Panel Walkout, uses insulated freezer panels as its main structural component.

  • Sheet metal and wood battens clad the exteriors, while cork and fiber-cement boards form the interior finish materials.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmpFA97%2Etmp_tcm48-620947.jpg

    true

    Sheet metal and wood battens clad the exteriors, while cork and fiber-cement boards form the interior finish materials.

    600

    Charles Davis Smith

    Sheet metal and wood battens clad the exteriors, while cork and fiber-cement boards form the interior finish materials.

  • At the 2001 Tailored House in Highland Park, Texas, Shipley created a subdued exterior that defers to the surrounding older homes.

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    At the 2001 Tailored House in Highland Park, Texas, Shipley created a subdued exterior that defers to the surrounding older homes.

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    Hester + Hardaway

    At the 2001 Tailored House in Highland Park, Texas, Shipley created a subdued exterior that defers to the surrounding older homes.

  • Custom metal detailing, such as a slim, graceful stair railing, pulls the home together.

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    Custom metal detailing, such as a slim, graceful stair railing, pulls the home together.

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    Robert Gries

    Custom metal detailing, such as a slim, graceful stair railing, pulls the home together.

  • Big steel windows made in a local workshop bring in natural light.

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    Big steel windows made in a local workshop bring in natural light.

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    Hester + Hardaway

    Big steel windows made in a local workshop bring in natural light.

  • At a guest house and "party barn" Hico, Texas, industrial materials such as PVC and perforated aluminum...

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    At a guest house and "party barn" Hico, Texas, industrial materials such as PVC and perforated aluminum...

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    Charles Davis Smith

    At a guest house and "party barn" Hico, Texas, industrial materials such as PVC and perforated aluminum...

  • ...complement earthier items like salvaged heart pine boards and indigenous stone.

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    ...complement earthier items like salvaged heart pine boards and indigenous stone.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    ...complement earthier items like salvaged heart pine boards and indigenous stone.

  • Dan Shipley, FAIA, values corrugated metal for its tough character and tactile look.

    Credit: Danny Turner

    Dan Shipley, FAIA, values corrugated metal for its tough character and tactile look.
 

When approached for career advice, Dan Shipley, FAIA, often gives future architects an unexpected suggestion. He tells them to work for a builder or subcontractor—anything that will gain them some hands-on construction experience. “The real world isn’t about paper,” says the Dallas-based architect, whose quirky, modern projects regularly bring home local and state design awards. “It’s about materials, grease, dirt, and all that kind of stuff.”

Shipley himself worked for a framing company back in 1976, during a self-enforced hiatus from architecture school at the University of Texas at Austin. “I didn’t know the slightest thing about building, but somehow had the sense that I wanted to know practical things,” he says. After a year or so framing houses, he moved on to a job as a draftsman for a small East Texas architecture firm. “That formed the whole backbone of my career,” he explains. “I learned so much about how to put buildings together, really.” He then went back to school and finished his degree, returning to the firm afterward for another year. A five-year stint with a Dallas firm, Thomas & Booziotis Architects (now Booziotis & Co. Architects), exposed him to additional projects and project types.

Eventually Shipley went out on his own, intent on doing commercial work. But the economy of the late 1980s didn’t help, and he ended up taking on a few residential design/build projects just to keep going. One, a small addition to a 1920s Prairie-style house, led to an epiphany. “It was the first project where I really figured out how to design something,” he recalls. “I had gotten a taste of this joy of designing and building things. I found out how much I loved this way of thinking.” However, business proved so slow that he moved on to a position at a large firm, HKS Architects, for a couple of years—an experience that helped him hone his design and management abilities.

Then Shipley got what he calls his “second start”: an opportunity to independently design the conversion of an old masonry firehouse into a nonprofit arts center. The project enabled him to re-establish his own firm, this time for good. He still talks fondly about the job, which he also built. “With the builder hat, we could make adjustments on the spot,” he says. “That was fantastic.”

budget conscious

Naturally, Shipley faced a tight budget on that first nonprofit project. But he made it stretch, a skill he’s been perfecting ever since. Other architects and design observers marvel at his gift for making the most out of limited resources. “He’s able to infuse an amazing spirit and intensity into projects,” says Dallas architect Max Levy, FAIA.

Part of this aspect of Shipley’s work comes from his personality—he’s naturally frugal, gravitates toward the humble and the unpretentious, and likes the challenge of sticking to a budget. And his construction background helps tremendously. Sometimes he builds his own projects, and sometimes he works with a general contractor. Either way, he’s out on the jobsite, deploying his intimate knowledge of the building process to invent unexpected uses for ordinary materials. For example, at a 1,490-square-foot house in the Urban Reserve development in Dallas (see page 68), he transformed industrial metal grating and off-the shelf metal railings into an elegant exterior entry ramp. Without it, he explains, the sense of arrival would feel too abrupt, given the lack of space for an interior foyer. Instead, the graceful, inexpensive entry sequence makes the house seem larger inside.

That particular job had a relatively modest budget, but Shipley’s projects can dip much lower on the budgetary food chain. They also can climb significantly higher, when his clients have the means. What doesn’t change from project to project is his commitment to not wasting money or resources. This quality has endeared him to many clients, no matter what their budget. “I’ve recommended him quite a few times and people always report back happy,” says Diane Cheatham, the developer of Urban Reserve. “I tell him, ‘You’ve got to start bragging about how much your clients like you.’” Notes two-time client Tom Perryman, “Dan is incredibly meticulous. Everything matters to him.”

Shipley believes a good architect should be able to work with the materials at hand—in the spirit of the TV character MacGyver, whom he admires along with more typical figures such as Carlo Scarpa and O’Neil Ford. “I kind of have this attitude of wanting to do as much as I can with whatever’s available,” he says, matter-of-factly. He likes to experiment with materials, and has been known to use items such as decking boards and perforated metal as exterior cladding. “Almost any material can be used and detailed in pretty sophisticated ways,” he observes. Corrugated metal is a personal favorite of Shipley’s. “It’s a thin material given strength from the stresses put into it,” he says. “What a beautiful idea. It’s one of the best materials there is.”

He also feels architecture should be democratic—that the smallest, most mundane addition or outbuilding deserves as much attention as a whole house or a major renovation. “I don’t like the idea of the architect being above it all,” Shipley explains. “Some of the projects we do are very modest and never get a whole lot of attention, but I know they were just as good as the ones that did. The point is that you solved a problem in an economic and beautiful way.” He turns down few projects, even in times of plenty.