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4 Questions for a Pro: Architect Clifford Scholz Published: Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.
For more than 30 years, Clifford Scholz has built large custom homes in Sarasota. He worked in the development of The Oaks in 1983 with the MacEwen Group. Since 1992, when he started his own firm, more than two-thirds of his work has been designing luxury homes; he also has had considerable commercial projects and significant renovations. Correspondent Chris
Sarasota architect Clifford Scholz. COURTESY PHOTO
Angermann talked with him at his office on the South Trail. Q: What is your design aesthetic? A: Our approach is to treat every project individually. Our clients are not going to get a "Clifford Scholz-type" house, but something based on an interaction they and I may not have thought of initially, but that turns out to be interesting and livable. There was a period when we were cast as a Mediterranean design firm, but that is not the case at all. It just so happened that we designed a few large Mediterranean homes, and they made the news, so we got that reputation. I remember, at that point in my life, my wife and I were getting ready to build our own house, and I said, "The last thing I'm going to do is a Mediterranean home." Instead, I designed a Low Country sort of Southern light traditional. I don't like to be perceived as doing just one thing, because I think, as a firm, we're more than that. That's not to say we won't still do Mediterranean. Done correctly, it's beautiful. I think any style ... if it's done correctly, with care and the clients' best interests at heart, will be exceptional. Q: How do you work with your clients? A: All the clients I've had are experts at living in a home, because they have done it all their lives. I ask short and discerning questions. Being a good listener is the key. How they answer and how their spouses react tells me more than the answers themselves. It's very intuitive. We spend way more time on the lifestyle, usage and livability of any home we design than on the aesthetic. The process starts in my mind with a feeling for what I want the end result to look like, but I don't want to go there too quickly -- not until I am sure the function part works for the client. Q: How did the downturn affect you? A: There is no doubt that from 2005 to 2007 the volume of our business dropped off. But the construction cost went down, too, because people were looking for work hard and they were cutting their profit margins. A lot of construction companies got to the point where they were actually giving away their labor in order to stay in business. That was a bad part of the recession. As architects, it is our job to protect the owners,
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and you have to be very careful who you're selecting as contractors and subcontractors, because they could go out of business when times are tough. We used the drop-off to retool our whole process. We got everybody in the office LEED-certified. And we're actually taking more time with the projects now that we did before, yet still deliver in a prompt fashion. Q: Have you noticed change in what clients are looking for in a custom-built house? A: Our bread and butter for residential work is Gulf-front and oceanfront homes, and they're generally larger houses, but we're seeing even them getting smaller. ... I actually noticed it a couple of years before the economy started to turn. People that have multiple homes don't want to be tied down by them, but they want to enjoy them instantaneously when they get there. That means maintenance-free and manageable. It was a bit of a test -- how can we create a big feel ... but not have the extra square footage they haven't walked into for months? What helped is the informality we're seeing in homes. They're still very elegant, very well-appointed, but they have cleaner lines, the décor and decorating are a little bit lighter. They have multipurpose spaces.
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Published on Apr 9, 2014