Design Associates Architects (d|a) is a small firm with a long and rich history in the valley.
When Design Associates Architects was founded in the mid 60s, Jackson Hole was a beautiful, but pretty sleepy outpost. John Morgan, a Wilson local and home designer, chose the name and hung a shingle outside of his house to service his small community.
In the late 60s, a man named Paul McCollister struck a deal with the Forest Service to build a new ski area at what is now the Jackson Hole Ski Resort. The development and investment was large and initiated a housing boom in the valley. John, feeling the pressure to keep up with demand found himself in the market for a draftsman.
It was fateful he met Vince Lee. Vince was new to town, drawn to the valley by the world-class climbing and potential work in architecture. Vince had paid for his education at Princeton by enlisting in the Marines OCS program where he taught climbing to young marines after college.
When the two met, they had an instant rapport and worked well together. Design Associates shortly there after evolved into a partnership and was in no time, thriving.
When the resort began looking for help with their commercial buildings and hotels, John and Vince brought in a third partner, a licensed architect named Tom Muths. Tom’s involvement allowed the trio to go for the commercial jobs and provided Vince the mentoring he needed to fulfill his internship requirements so that he could one day get licensed.
In the early 80s, Tom moved out of the valley and left the firm, and then later, John retired. Vince took over the operations and ran the firm as a sole proprietor till his son came to work in the summers while in College. When Christopher graduated in 1996 from the Montana State University School of Architecture, he came to work full time.
Vince gave up his drafting table in 2000, passing the firm to Christopher. Christopher runs the firm today the same way it has been operating since the late 60s. As a small firm, he personally oversees every aspect of his projects, works with only the best consultants and takes the time to get to know his clients.
Much has changed in Jackson Hole since the mid 60s, but Design Associates Architects attention to clients and core values are as fundamental today as they were the first day John hung a sign on his house.
There is a lot of theory in architecture, it’s one of the things about it that appeals to me. If we were really just interested in shelter, we wouldn’t need architects. Architecture is more than just shelter, is creating space that connects with people on an emotional level.
There is a great book; “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein that gained praise for it’s insight into how spaces make you feel. More than just a study, it’s a guide to creating comfortable and reinforcing environments through architecture. A great subject matter, well written, and it works. Appreciating the way we interact with space and how to use design to enhance experience is essential to good architecture.
When I design homes (most of my work), I think a lot about who’s going to be living in them. I learn a bit about my clients, what they like, how their life experience has shaped them. This history enables me to create homes that are comfortable and reinforcing and as unique and custom as their owners.
The context or environment of the site is also relevant. I work to insure your design is appropriate for its location. Regional and cultural influences help bind your new home to the landscape and give it a sense of belonging.
Designing is the application of hundreds of choices and decisions. The outcome is largely dependent on the core philosophy of the designer. Especially when it comes to homes, understanding people in general, my clients in particular and the environment in which we’re building is the key to getting it right.
Thanks for giving us a look and welcome to our website. There’s much to know and if you’re interested, and we’d love to meet with you to discuss your project and determine if we’d be a good fit.
Please enjoy the photos and don’t hesitate to let us know if we can do anything for you, there’s a contact tab for getting in touch.
Christopher T. Lee – AIA, NCARB
d|a – Design Associates Architects