9 minute read
SOAR Presents: Architectural Designer Guy M. Land
Tell me how long have you been in architectural design? I got my first job in high school in 1983 in Pasadena, Texas. I worked for an architect through high school and college and beyond…and wound up working for him full time for a total of 8 years. With his blessing, I left and started this company in 1991. So I’ve been in business almost 30 years now.
What year did you move here to Tennessee? I moved here in 2008 and opened up this office here in Cool Springs as a satellite office for my company that was still in operation in Houston. I decided to come up here and frontier this one myself. Since that time I have moved our office to Spring Hill.
What are the areas you find yourself primarily drawing architectural design plans for here in Middle Tn? My work is all over Williamson County mostly. I’m not really in the neighborhoods with the builders. I am more of a “build on your lot” type of designer because my homes are more custom. So people come to me for larger homes mostly but that isn’t to say that that’s all I do. However, I’ll design any home that any client wants. I plan to do more work in Davidson County this year.
So after you do all of the digital design, do you create your own blueprints as well? Yes, I do all the working drawings. I create the entire architectural package for the client.
From that point, do you help a client look for a construction company or a builder? It’s rare that a client comes to me without a builder. Usually they are referred by a builder or they already have 1 or 2 builders in mind. If clients do ask me for a referral, I am happy to do that and have done so many times over the past.
What would you say makes your designs different from other people in your field? I approach custom home design with a very blank screen. So when I’m talking with my clients about their home, the way I take notes is I ask them to open the front doors, walk into the foyer, and tell me what you see. I try and pull the vision out of them with questions. I’m not looking for them to provide me with schematics or sketches because that can really stifle the creative process. However if they have sketches, mostly what I’ll do is look at those and then set them aside because people don’t typically know the right sizes and proportions for rooms and things of that nature but they have an idea of WHERE they want everything. It’s my joy to put everything together and make it a nice architectural space.
It sounds to me like your differentiator is the client experience because you’re sitting down and drawing things out, casting vision, exploring design and generating a uniquely creative process.
How many homes do you have drawn out that you keep on hand? I have thousands of plans and hundreds of those available on the internet. If you search the internet for home plans, the odds are that you will pull up my plans on that website because I am one of the original people that offered stock floorplans online. I was one of the first to jump out there and create this trend within the market. So not only sell stock floorplans but I also create custom homes because often times stock floorplans aren’t always exactly what everyone wants. Many clients want something created uniquely for them.
How many plans have you drawn over the span of 30 years in your profession? Conservatively, I’ve designed about 2,000 homes. And of those, about 90% have actually been built. Here in the Greater Nashville area, I’ve drawn about 100 homes so far that have been built locally. I still do a lot of work in Texas. About 75% of my clients build their homes on land they already own whereas about 25% of my clients build in existing communities.
How long would you say that the creative design process takes from the client’s perspective of figuring out what it is that they want and really being able to define their vision? I want to draw as many homes as I can…however, I don’t take every home that I’m asked to do. When I meet with the client, I tell them that I will have a sketch ready for them within 15 days. I try very hard to hold to that. Because I get to work immediately on drawing my client’s vision for their dream home, I am able to allow my drawings, sketches and plans to reflect my level of attentiveness to what they’ve verbalized during the creative process.
I was a big firm in Houston and I got lost in that. I kept promising all these people impossible deadlines when I was drawing 100 homes per year. And it’s not possible. There’s no CRAFT in being the designer that is just farming out plans as quick as you can. The creative process gets lost in that.
In fact, that’s what you see a lot of in Nashville so often is that the same designers are being used in all of these neighborhoods and the same floor plans are being repeated over and over again with just moving a window here or there or move a gable to a hip. The creative process is just lost because those plans are drawn for everybody. I appreciate people who put their trust in me to design what is typically their life savings, their dream home or their forever home.
What is your favorite thing about this business? I love the creative process. I like when people come to me and have chosen me to design their home. I love presenting that home to them and getting their feedback. I love when they approve the plan and say “That’s it! This is the one we want to go with!” I love when they start the process of building or send me pictures of it or simply want me to walk through the house with them because they are so proud. I love when they boast about working with me and designing their floorplan and tag me in their photos online. I especially love the move in when clients call me and tell me they’re having a House Warming Party and invite me to attend. I love when they refer me their friends or when they call me years later and say “Hey, we want to build another one with you.” I truly enjoy every part of it.
“I love the creative process. I like when people come to me and have chosen me to design their home.”
What are the top reasons you find that people have sought you out to design a plan for them instead of using what another builder has to offer? I often times have clients who seek me out because they’ve seen what else is available in the market but can’t find a floorplan that they truly love. Who wants to spend a million or two million dollars on a home and turn the corner into the next neighborhood and see that same home on a different lot with a different color brick? I would be mortified if that happened to me as a homeowner. This is happening far too often where builders are repeating plans neighborhood to neighborhood. Builders and designers around town are doing this because they’re building so many homes and want to speed up the plans process. We do not need to do this. As architects, we haven’t run out of ideas. My homes are uniquely custom. I take the time to create that one-of-a-kind look for that one-of-a-kind client. I am not a style designer. If you look through my portfolio you will see that I draw everything and I do not repeat a look. I take something that I like and make it unique.
When you came from Texas to Tennessee, what were some of the unique things that you brought here to this market that were not previously here before you arrived? Oh, that’s an easy answer. The open concept type of architecture. When I got here, everything locally was drawn on an X Y axis on 90 degrees. You can open up a plan so much with angles. You can make a 5,000 square foot box feel so much bigger just by turning some walls and introducing some angles and creating a flow to it. There really are no rules for architecture. We can really free style with home plans.
The one thing I had to adjust to in Tennessee was the terrain. Everything in Houston was flat and built on slab. Here, I had to learn basements and use the terrain and design for the terrain which really got the wheels \spinning and allowed me to do some cool things. There are some very talented architects around here, don’t get me wrong. However, they are stuck on a particular look, type and style that often lacks any individuality.
Do you have a particular elevation type or a look that you prefer given our terrain here in Tennessee? Something I would love to see are 2 styles in particular, one being on the smaller side which is a storybook cottage look with some exaggerated detailing with charm and color added to the house. Another type I would like to see on the larger end is a Rocky Mountain lodge type of architecture. You know, we have so much natural beauty around here, it seems we could insert a more natural aesthetic into architecture rather than these harsh, stark painted brick homes against the trees to make it a little more warm and inviting from the street.
Have you been affiliated with designing any particular homes of notoriety? Yes, I designed the home for Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2010 built by Kingdom Homes in Avalon. It was a gorgeous home. Additionally I designed two Parade Of Homes houses here in Williamson County, one in Annandale and one in The Grove (See featured photos for reference).
What charity work have you done using your profession and passions simultaneously? I designed the Lone Survivor Lodge for the Lone Survivor Foundation in Texas along with quadriplegic and paraplegic Veterans for some military charities. I’m on the Board of Directors for The Boot Campaign as well.
“As architects, we haven’t run out of ideas.”