Architect Jessie Carroll on Creating a Client-Centered Practice Focused on Process
Carroll explains how she became an ego-last architect who puts the client in the driver’s seat
“It needs to be the client’s preferences that guide the home’s style, and the architect then brings a cohesive vision, rigor in proportions, and resolution of detailing.”
MH+D ASKS CARROLL TO TELL US MORE.
Q. What is the ethos of Jessie Carroll Architect?
A. When I decided to go out on my own, I made a conscious effort to create a ﬁrm and an atmosphere that felt distinctly different: a practice based on positivity and an acute remembering that “pressure is a privilege.” Each project, each home, is an honor. It’s important to bring an energetic enthusiasm and a calming, experienced leading hand through the entirety of the process.
Q. The thought of designing a home from the foundation up can be extremely stressful for the average client. How do you break down the process to make it less intimidating but still successful?
A. There’s no denying that designing and building a home can feel like an overwhelming process. The stress is dramatically reduced when the homeowner uses an experienced architect with well-established industry relationships; then the process can actually be gratifying. It starts with active listening and honest communication between the architect and client around feasibility and project expectations. This means putting the architect’s ego aside and listening.
Q. What is a piece of advice you can share with someone choosing an architectural ﬁrm?
A. A small, nimble architectural team can act in the best interest of the client consistently, without the lapses in communication or duplicative efforts and fees. After years of designing homes in Maine and developing and ﬁne-tuning the process, the focus can shift to the client experience. I have been lucky to cultivate long-term relationships within the build community. Engaging the multidisciplinary team at a project’s onset makes all the difference with achieving the desired ﬁnal result, and an enjoyable overall experience. The architect can provide local insight about team members to consider given the project’s parameters and personalities. This team includes landscape architects, engineers, general contractors, and local craftspeople. Early collaboration with established teams keeps the project ﬂow efficient and allows for artful solutions to emerge. With many specialties at the table, clients are enabled to make informed decisions. The architect keeps the holistic vision intact and the project on track throughout the process.
Q. Historically, architects have been known to push their own design preferences with abandon. I’m not talking about functionality but more aesthetic choices. How do you avoid this to maintain a client-driven process?
A. As an ego-last architect, it’s all about empowering cli-ents to take the driver’s seat in the decision making. It is the job of the architect to bring an inspired vision rooted in the site, but it is the client who must make the best choice from well-vetted design options.
It needs to be the client’s preferences that guide the home’s style, and the architect then brings a cohesive vision, rigor in proportions, and resolution of detailing. The ideal outcome is a quiet piece of architecture that reﬂects clients’ personalities and not architects’ desires.
MH+D IS PROUD TO PARTNER WITH ACCLAIMED ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER TRENT BELL ON HIS ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, AND PHOTOGRAPHY PODCAST. TO HEAR BELL’S CONVERSATION WITH CARROLL, PLEASE VISIT TRENTBELL.COM/PODCAST