FOR LONGTIME ARCHITECT LOUIS CONTADINO, DESIGNING HOMES MEANS TAKING AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO ARCHITECTURE.
Home can mean many things to many people, but if there is one thing architect Louis Contadino understands from a lifetime in construction, it’s that our time at home must be time well-spent if we are to live a full life.
“My philosophy centers around creating an environment that enriches the daily lives of the homeowners, their friends and family,” explains Contadino about the way he approaches his craft. “Understanding their needs, wants and desires is paramount.”
It’s a philosophy he’s been cultivating since he was a child. The lifelong Greenwich resident grew up on construction sites watching his father, a contractor, turn paper designs into reality. That experience, coupled with Contadino’s affinity for drawing made architecture a natural career path. After receiving an architec- ture degree with distinction from the New York Institute of Technology, he spent time on staff at progressive firms, working on everything from custom residential homes to urban centers.
Then, in 1989, he decided to strike out on his own, founding Contadino Architects. Today, his work covers a wide range, from residential homes and apartment build- ings to professional spaces and furniture — even birdhouses. But no matter the size and structure, design problems and issues are similar and the path to a solution is always the same: active listening and communication.
“I usually ask homeowners what their design aspirations are and listen intently,” says Contadino of his first meeting on a potential new project. “I tell them that I want our experience together to be fun,” he explains. “The hard work comes later, between me and the contractors during the construction process.”
And no matter the project, he finds joy in exploring the possibilities of each space. “I often look back to historical precedence for inspiration,” says Contadino. “My residential work is a blend of classical and contemporary sensibilities.”
His interiors will often include lots of open spaces, abundant natural light and close ties to the outdoors. “An important factor in my work is to get the proportions correct—the relationship between one element and another,” says Contadino. “For example, selecting the correct win- dow for the size of the wall or the correct molding for the same wall. Everything has to come together conveying a holistic and integrated design solution.”
Since founding his firm, there have been a number of changes in the industry, especially when it comes to technology. Contadino considers himself a traditional architect and he continues to provide hand drawn sketches in combination with the computerized components that are popular today. He’s also embraced the many new energy, structural and mechanical options that have come about in recent years, from geothermal heating and cooling to high-wind and flood-resistant metal brack- ets or braces to protect homes from increasingly common storms attributed to global warming.
“I will continue to refine my craft as an architect, and strive to add something unique and special to the lives of my clients,” says Contadino.
And his drive to provide the utmost in service is something that will never change, he says. “Bottom line is, the most important element of any successful design is a happy client,” says Contadino. “If they are happy, we have done our job, and our collective goals and aspirations have been met.