When it comes to exterior trends such as Craftsman style, neutral paint colors, and incorporating texture, architect Christopher Luce, AIA chooses not to name his architectural home designs, as this may dictate what can and cannot be done. Not labeling “affords architects the opportunity to break rules,” says Luce, principal of Luce Architects in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.
Working out of a 150-year-old Victorian building about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia, the firm offers full architectural services for residential and commercial design. In discussing new home façades, Luce revealed a few lessons he picked up throughout his career by being exposed to different cultures, styles, and building materials.
End the labels
Instead of targeting a specific design such as a modern farmhouse or a traditional Craftsman, Luce prefers to not be true to any architectural style. Instead, he uses style as a guide to take each individual home exterior to the next level. When architects design with this sort of artistic freedom, neighborhoods can become the gallery that viewers can stop to admire again and again.
Blend exterior materials
An architect, much like a painter, must think about colors and textures while developing movement and creating balance throughout their work, Luce says. “This sort of designing is what makes each home unique,” he says. After completing a modern house that incorporated the Reveal Panel System, HardiePlank lap siding, glass, stone, black-framed windows, and a metal roof, Luce points to the blending of materials on a façade to create a palette.
When all is said and done, Luce points to the idea that good design is good design. “Quality materials, craftsmanship, and a beautiful design makes for a beautiful building,” he says.
Embrace the evolution
In nearby Bucks County, Pennsylvania—the region where Washington crossed the Delaware—homes have a traditional feel, and it’s interesting to watch a house evolve over hundreds of years. They are ideal examples of how you can take traditional ideas and design in a different way, using new siding materials.
The idea of new materials makes Luce excited to start designing. “It takes the architect to take the material and make it something else—something it should be, something it could be, it’s a blast,” he says. Most recently, he’s liked incorporating siding profiles from the Aspyre Collection by James Hardie. “I like that the Artisan lap is thicker, resembles authentic cedar profiles in durable fiber cement, and that you can install horizontal or vertical; it’s truly a nice effect on a façade.”
Know your partners
When the housing market crashed in 2008, the field lost a lot of skilled workers. “As an architectural firm, we want to be sure our drawings are up to snuff and that the subcontractors have the education to execute the design and install the materials properly,” Luce says. “And it’s important to build to the skills of the builder.”
For Luce, that comes back to the follow-through and open communication throughout the building process. Architects should know their parnters and make sure they’re educated on installation practices, which includes the flashing details, especially around window and doors, and any penetration issues.
Back in Hatboro, Luce and his firm challenge design, break rules, buck the trends, and embrace imagination with the unlimited ways to create a well-designed façade.