Doing more with less seems to be the new universal mantra. But to Dallas architect Dan Shipley, FAIA, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. The residential architect’s 2010 Top Firm Leadership Award winner has always liked the challenge of designing on a budget. His award-winning, meticulously detailed projects often contain unexpected (and cost-effective) industrial materials, and they tend to be energy-efficient to boot. Shipley frequently comes up with creative ideas to visually enlarge smaller spaces, such as cutting a hole in a ceiling corner to let a set of open stair treads peek through.
These skills come in handy on projects both residential and otherwise. He and his staff have designed private schools and other institutional buildings, as well as public works jobs for the city of Dallas. His residential work varies widely in scope, from vacation homes in Texas and Colorado to tiny additions and remodels. Shipley sometimes builds his own projects, especially now that the market for architectural services has slowed. His building experience helps him figure out how to construct unusual details, plus it’s something he enjoys. “We’d have more interesting buildings in the world if more architects would take it upon themselves to become the producer and take a bigger role in getting things built,” he says. “You’re kind of in the fray, but you get to make things.”
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
When a project takes on a life of its own and becomes a beautiful and mysterious thing.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
When it takes on a life of its own and becomes a monster.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
Understand the problem ... so you’ll know a good solution when you stumble on it.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
Pencil (with eraser).
What software does your firm use?
Who is your ideal client?
One who is opinionated and curious.
What is your favorite building?
Hall of State at Fair Park, Dallas.
If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?
John Grable, FAIA, San Antonio.