Design Philosophy

We believe that design can change the quality of life in the communites in which we work.

LWDA is a passionate group of designers who believe in the power of design to improve the quality of life in the communities in which we work.  Our modest size of thirty professionals belies the depth and breadth of services we offer-- we are architects, interior designers, landscape architects and master planners working collaboratively under one roof to bring specialized skills and knowledge together.  We approach our work holistically, a term borrowed from medicine and psychology to describe an approach that considers a body as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts.  A great building in the wrong location is not a great building, and a great design that doesn’t serve the needs of its client is not a successful project.  Program, building, interior, landscape, context, budget and schedule must all be properly aligned and balanced.


Design is an iterative process, each part influencing another, and we rely on a loop of constant feedback among the disciplines and with our clients to ensure the end result will be beautiful, integrated, functional and appropriate.  Our intermediate size and single location means we are constantly interacting and cross-pollinating ideas throughout the day.  There are no silos in our open office.  A change to a project program can trigger a rearrangement of interior space, which will change the plan, which can change the exterior, which can influence the site plan, which can influence budget and schedule.


Building renovations, which comprise a substantial portion of our work, may “only” include interiors, but we pursue a similar integrated approach, considering arrival, circulation, relationship of public and private spaces, materials, lighting, furnishings, views, and opportunities to connect to the outside world, as well as the seamless integration of mechanical and electrical engineering.


Interior design is sometimes dismissed as paint and palettes, to be applied after the design is mostly complete, but we prefer to think of it integrally as interior architecture, reflecting the notion that a building’s exterior is really the natural expression of interior spaces.  The two should work together in harmony, along with the landscape in which they sit, to create a seamless whole.


We consider the long-term implications of design, keeping in mind how a project might be expanded, renovated or repurposed thirty years hence.  Sustainability means environmentally friendly product selection, but it also means life cycle costing, and thinking of the built environment as part of a larger cycle of return and investment.


We look at each project with a fresh set of eyes.  We don’t cultivate an in-house style or brand, preferring to let each opportunity evolve and respond to best express client needs and aspirations.  We can help you vision, brand, design, and manage your project to solve issues and create value.  We share your vision and leave our egos at the door-- your priorities become our priorities.  We draw you deep into the process with our emphasis on 3D visualization [see Design Process].


LWDA willingly and efficiently manages all aspects of a project-- master planning, budgeting, design, furniture and equipment coordination, regulatory approvals, bidding, and construction administration-- without the additional layers of middle management that burden larger firms.  We welcome the control that our multi-disciplinary approach provides—we find that it heads off problems that otherwise fall through the cracks and become the source of finger pointing.  We are proactive and nimble, and turn work around quickly.  All projects are run by working principals who have day-to-day responsibility for keeping the job on schedule and on budget. 


Our superior BIM-based construction documents produce more accurate bidding.  The project timeline is shortened with fewer rounds of contractor negotiations and faster approvals.  In addition to project design, our value-added services include evaluation of construction managers, advice on value engineering, initiation and management of the approvals process (DPH and local authorities), and project close-out.  Many architects have abdicated these services to contractors, construction managers and OPMs, and while we are happy to collaborate with all parties, we think the architect is ideally suited to provide project management for small and medium sized jobs.


“Architecture,” Victor Hugo famously wrote, “is the manuscript of the human race.”  With each commission, we take this to heart to balance design, budget, schedule, and aspirations.