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2006 April | Berlin+Opsal Residence :: Dallas, TX

Archive for April, 2006



So we found the perfect architect. He just happened to be crazy. Loony. Batty. And down right insane.

It’s our first meeting. Russ starts by saying “What if we could build a house, just like any other house, only we eliminate the framer, the taper, the bedder, the drywaller and the painter. And then we minimize the electrician and the plumber.”

A look of fear engulfed Amy. It was quite amusing. All I could think of was, “A. You call that a garage. And B. Oh, boy, Amy’s going to kill me for choosing this guy.”

OK, Russ. Go on.

Here’s the deal. It’s called a concept. The concept was to eliminate as many trades as possible to maximize the budget, yet still build the same house that we would have built in a traditional stick and mortar style.

As a designer, some of my favorite projects are the ones with limited budgets. Why? Because they force you to focus on the concept. Which means there is an idea behind the development, not just a bunch of random elements chosen to make a pretty structure.

So is it possible to eliminate half the trades that it takes to build a house. Yes, it is. Are we going to do it. We are certainly going to try. It’s kind of like when robots started making cars. When email replaced standard postage. When you could check yourself out at the grocery store. Or when mail order DVD’s replaced the video rental store on the corner. They all still produce the same results. They just revolutionized the way we got there.



I pretty much knew a few minutes after we walked into Russell’s office that he was the one. Russell’s work is progressive, but with a timeless and elegant touch. More importantly we felt comfortable with Russ.

Architect: Russell Buchanan

Russell is a rather soft spoken individual, but as any good artist does, he stands up for his work. I wouldn’t say Russell has a particular style, but he does have a thread of modern geometry that runs through his buildings. You can see the proportions, the lines and the masses that play off one another like a real life game of Tetris or Janga. Shapes stacked on top of one another and holes left where they feel just comfortable enough for you to question their supporting structure. Russ has a precision and an exactness that makes you appreciate these sculptures of glass, concrete, steel and wood.

Karen, Russell’s wife, was an added bonus. Karen is a sweetheart. She serves as Project Coordinator. She keeps everyone on time, on budget and on top of just about everything. And I think Amy really appreciates having the perspective of another female on the project. Which is nice.

With some architects, you know exactly what type of home or building you will get. You may not know which walls will go where, but you know exactly what it will look like. I couldn’t picture the house that Russ would build for us. We presented our program, our wants and our needs. And then Amy and I stood by as the days drifted on before our next meeting. I knew it would be progressive. I just didn’t know what it would look like.

But that’s the whole reason we hired Russ. Because we felt comfortable with him.

The rendering image above is from Buchanan Architecture and is a working model of the Ferrara/Griffin home in Kessler Woods.