The life and legacy of a well-built structure spans for generations and generations. Buildings become recognizable landmarks and can stand, with the help of renovations, for 100 or more years. Landmarks like the Taj Mahal, the Chrysler Building in New York, Falling Water, the Sydney Opera House, and even the White House come to mind.
Legacy is a core value for Christopher Architecture & Interiors (A&I). At the start of every project, the team considers how their design, and each element, will mature in the years to come.
That is not the case for every industry. In fact, it is rare to regard the sustainment of a project for 10, 50, or even 100 years after conception. Take music, for instance. The top hits chart changes so quickly that we can hardly keep up. A song tends to be a blip on the radar. Here today, overplayed, and gone tomorrow.
Predicting the future is…pretty much impossible. But, for Christopher A&I, predicting the future of their designs has become an expertise. Over decades of professional practice, Christopher A&I now understand how their designs will shift with the environment over the course of 10, 50, and even 100 years. Their accumulated knowledge over the course of many years of operation as well as their periodic materials testing helps the team to understand the natural reactions that occur with the materials of a home.
That expertise in their toolbelt gives Christopher A&I a starting point to begin to analyze how a home will mature with time. And, that knowledge for them guides many decisions throughout the home planning, designing, and construction process.
For Christopher A&I, legacy is one of the most important values of their company. They’re not here for the quick gains or the biggest budget projects. In a time when many companies are about a fast solution to the urban revitalization of Birmingham, Christopher A&I is interested in investing in the legacy of an expanding city with undulating topography, seasons, and growing food/entertainment options.
In fact, even though they have expanded to Los Angeles and New York, Christopher says that Birmingham will always be a special place for him and his company.
“Another great thing about Birmingham is its distinct seasons,” says Christopher. “I’m also inspired by the city’s quality and diversity of the restaurant scene and the culinary arts, and I’m drawn to the great history and challenges of Birmingham.”
Having three locations across the nation means understanding how the elements will weather homes differently in different regions. Los Angeles is very different than Birmingham.
On the west coast, a modern aesthetic compliments the landscape and resonates more with west coast clients than with east coast clients. Whereas copper may take a 40-50 years to rust in Birmingham, it takes only a few years to rust in Los Angeles. So, Christopher A&I uses materials which may be more indigenous to the region, which will not only patina elegantly but also provide a sustainable design solution.
The way that architecture communicates symbiotically with nature is important for a designer to understand. We’ve all seen a house that…doesn’t quite fit in its neighborhood or street. The team at Christopher A&I really wants structures to feel like they are a part of their surroundings. They design their projects to feel like the design belongs there and has always belonged there, which can be a huge challenge.
Working with nature is something that Christopher A&I is passionate about, which is why they use natural materials. For instance, they know that moss grows on the north side of structure; when moss is growing on stone, it looks more natural than it would on a synthetic material. So, if you’re going with a material on the north side of a structure, a natural stone might be the choice.
A passion point for Christopher is his attention to detail and customization of projects for each client. Christopher’s interest in developing a relationship with clients is paramount to creating a design that compliments and enhances their lives.
“Because we are trying to create something so bespoke, we have to get past the surface of the black and white programmatic needs of client,” says Christopher. “Learning their passions, motivations, and excitement is key. The more you understand a client, the better a design can be.”
In a world when social media reigns and the façade of a wonderful life attempts to trick us all, it’s refreshing to hear that legacy and relationships mean everything to Christopher A&I. Even with a quick timeline looming, the company never loses sight of its true values.