Michael Lee Architects, Inc.
Michael Lee Construction, Inc.
Describe the featured project.
This is a remodel of a 20-year-old existing house that we designed and built for an active young family near the beach. We were looking to achieve an indoor-outdoor expansive feeling while working with a narrow lot that is also located on a busy street. To do this we balanced protected, private spaces on the lower levels with a great room on the top floor that is completely open, with ocean-view decks to both the north and south. Fully pocketing doors leading from the kitchen to the southern-facing deck open all the way across a counter bar, while an outdoor fireplace and media station screen off the street. Another favorite space is the ground floor family room, which feels both cozy and social—opening with another set of pocketing doors onto a super fun courtyard landscaped by Rob Jones. The interior designer for the home was House of Honey.
Tell us about your business and your specialty services.
We enjoyed an exceptionally fruitful design collaboration with our clients, after which we were honored to be given the opportunity to build the home. Seeing a design through to completion is especially gratifying for our entire team and dramatically streamlines the process for the homeowner. I have a long career in building architecturally driven homes, beginning back when I had recently graduated from SCI-Arc and was working with Dean Nota. In our office we celebrate the chance when it arises, but we also find it important to keep the businesses separate and have this conversation with our client at the end of the design phase. There is an important push and pull—even tension—between design and construction, and this ensures that neither gets shortchanged to serve the other.
What is it about the industry that captivates you?
Working in architecture is challenging, given the huge range of skills and responsibilities an architect must take on. However, this is what makes being an architect so rewarding. An architect must solve problems in an aesthetic way, engineer projects cost-effectively, guide them through the byzantine municipal approval processes, and then coordinate the construction and finishes. Having an understanding of all aspects of the design process and a deep appreciation for good architecture and its various components gives us great satisfaction.