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June 2007


MEET THE ARCHITECT

David Dumas
by Alexa Stevenson

BORN AND RAISED IN GREENWICH, AN ARCHITECT DESIGNS FROM THE HEART

What's your design philosophy? Observe everything and be open to all possibilities, then edit out anything that is not necessary. What do you think is the biggest challenge in architecture today? [Image] One big challenge is rethinking the sources of building materials. We need to try to be responsible in terms of using renewable and sustainable—and even local—resources whenever we can. Another alarming thing is the tear-down danger that antique houses face. Too often these small houses are sacrificed rather than adapted and expanded. New generic replacements often don't contribute to the neighborhood fabric the way older homes do. Who has had a profound impact on your work? The architects Sir Edwin Lutyens, Charles Platt and David Adler. They combined innovation with historic precedence and never forgot to add a little humor to their work. Name a source of inspiration: Hollywood films from the 1930s and '40s, historic homes, the natural beauty of a rolling field surrounded by old stone walls. And, of course, the best inspiration for a given project will be the physical environment for the structure. Do you have a favorite building? Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, Calif., a truly romantic place. Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot was filmed there. What are your favorite materials? Natural materials (stone, wood, etc.), tile, metal—anything that can be crafted by the human hand. I always cringe when I see: Off-limit rooms. I believe people should enjoy the whole house, with comfortable places to sit everywhere. I also cringe when I see mustard-colored walls or any sort of interior or exterior design that looks as if it were dictated by a designer who was given $1,000 and two days to create it. Name a dream client? Noel Coward. In 1948, he moved to Jamaica and built a rather elaborate home. His house became so filled with guests and support staff that he designed for himself a private little getaway on a hillside, high above both his home and the sea below. It was the perfect retreat. He understood the function of spaces, both public and private, and the importance of scale, both grand and small. He epitomizes the client of discernment, vision and taste.

ENJOY GREAT DESIGN

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