Meet Architect Greg Huddy And C3 Studio LLC

Meet Architect Greg Huddy And C3 Studio LLC

Jason: Good morning, guys. Glad everybody is here. We’ve got a special guest in the studio today. We get a lot of questions about architecture and home design, so we’ve brought in the best. We brought in Mr. Greg Huddy with C3 Studios. Greg, welcome to the studio today.

Greg H: Well thank you. Thank you very much.

Jason: Greg has been drawing plans for Artisan and for me for … Gosh, four or five years. I met him through my affiliation with Southern Living. It was a trip to Charleston. Gosh, it probably dates back seven or eight years ago. Maybe longer. We chatted then, really hit it off. Didn’t really connect until a few years later at one of the other conferences. Got to chat and did our first plan. He pretty much does all my plans for me right now. I just want to give our listeners and viewers and followers a little glimpse into what it’s like to be Greg Huddy. Why don’t you take us from the beginning? How did you get into architecture?

Greg H: I fell in love with architecture back in middle school, actually. My parents hired an architect to design our house. Going through that process, fell in love with it and I don’t think ever really changed my mind. It’s something that I love the idea, I love the thought of myself doing. Pursued it in high school a little bit through drafting and design and then really never looked back. I went to college at Clemson University for architecture, went back for grad school at Clemson University as well for a master’s in architecture. Just my whole life really pursued a career in architecture.

Jason: Man, that’s pretty awesome because there’s so many people, myself included and countless other people I know that spend half their lives looking for that thing they love to do. Sometimes they never find out what it is. Luckily I’ve found my calling. What a great life to have known from an early age that you love architecture. What gravitated you towards this profession?

Greg H: That’s a good question. I think to your point, I do really appreciate the fact that I love what I do. I wake up every morning excited about working. I think there probably are fewer than there should be people who just absolutely love what they do. Why I took to architecture is a good question. I think something to do with having influence on the way we live. Whether I’m designing a house for myself or one of many clients, you really start to transform spaces, start to transform the way we live through design. Design doesn’t stop at pen on paper. It really is incorporating someone’s life and how they live into vertical form. Just something about that intrigues me. It affects every day. It affects how you live inside, how you live outside and how you adjust the street. People walking by, neighborhoods. Almost at every scale, architecture can have an effect on life.

Jason: Yeah.

Greg F: Jason, was this the kind of conversation that you had that drew you to Greg? The artistic or the emotional appeal of what brought you to construction seems to have brought him to architecture. Is this like the conversation you had? Is that the connection that you made at that Charleston Convention?

Jason: Yeah. When we first met, I liked Greg. I had an established relationship previously. Then as in life, the door opened and I needed to bring in somebody else onto the team. I had always liked Greg, admired him. Again, it was his passion for what he does. Some people don’t realize Greg is not located in Louisville where we are. He’s actually in Knoxville. It’s a pretty seamless work relationship for us. He happens to be in Louisville today. That’s why I asked him to join us on the podcast, but I mean he always knows what I’m thinking or can … Has tons of ideas on his self and his team as well, but yeah. I think that’s right, Greg.

Greg F: That was me Greg, right?

Jason: Yeah, we’ve got two Gregs here. This is confusing.

Greg F: I’m interested from an outsider view. When the two of you start talking about a project, whose vision … You each have your own, I assume, artistic vision. You each have a language that you’ve developed on your style. How do you put those together into one product?

Jason: I’ll tell you briefly from my perspective and then I’ll let Greg the architect take over.  It really depends on our client. Some clients give us a lot of direction, are very specific on what they want and have Pinterest boards, Houzz pages and all that. They have them all detailed from elevations to porches to whatnot. Then other clients come in the door like, “Jason, you know what? We love what you do. Here’s 10 items that we want in our house.” They don’t even talk about the outside. They say, “Just do your thing.”

Sometimes when that happens, I’ve got thousands of pictures and ideas that I’ve constantly seen over the years and don’t know when I’m going to use them. Sometimes I’ll give Greg some guidance. Depends on the project. Other times we’ll have a conversation and I’ll tell him what style I’m after. His team will just run with it.

Before Greg the architect answers that, I may have you tell us a little bit about the structure of your … We jumped right into this, but tell us about … Because his approach to architecture is different than a lot of architects, I think.

Greg H: Yeah. Approach-wise and to the question really is we see it as a collaborative approach. The three Cs in C3 stand for collaborate, create and construct. We feel like our role in any design project is to collaborate with our clients, collaborate with the builder to make it a seamless process. We work as a team. Most architects do, but we really try to get to know our clients. Not only our clients that we’re designing the houses for, but also clients like Jason, who we work with regularly alongside his clients. We look at it as a collaborative process and really try to get involved with knowing and understanding people and how they live. Once we can get inside their head, we really feel like collectively, builder, architect, homeowner, we can fairly quickly get to the place that the drawings and the design meet the lifestyle and the way that the clients live.

Jason: You know, a lot of times the great thing about Greg’s firm is if a client is wanting a certain thing and it doesn’t necessarily work and plan like they think, Greg’s team will come up with a new idea, but a lot of times people can’t decipher on a floor plan what it’s going to look like. They may draw the idea, but then they’ll also accompany it with a corresponding picture from say Houzz or Pinterest or Instagram that the homeowner then goes, “Ah, I get it.” Instead of just sending paper after paper, which sometimes people … Again, it’s tough to see. They see that visual. They’ll be like, “Oh my gosh. That’s perfect. That’s just what I was thinking,” or, “Maybe it wasn’t what I was thinking, but I love it.”

Greg H: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think that the resources now are incredible and they’re very helpful. Most of our clients really can’t understand three-dimensional spaces without seeing those images. Floor plans, two-dimensional floor plans or elevations don’t relate well when people are trying to visualize their new space. We certainly use photographs, images of projects we’ve done, of projects other folks have done to give a sense of what these spaces will look like. People are definitely visual people and they need more than just two-dimensional drawings to convince them one way or another. Sometimes those images help them realize that that’s not what they want and that’s equally as important, I think.

Greg F: Is this a relationship that works much better now that we have the kind of virtual offices that maybe 10, 20 years ago, you guys would have had a hard time working together the same way that you do now because of Pinterest and Houzz and high-speed internet and everything that it sounds like you guys are talking about?

Jason: It definitely does. We probably don’t take advantage of a lot of the technology available to us.  Occasionally we’ve gotten on video conferences with Greg and his team before, but I guess fortunately for me and for his team, they’re able to I guess read what I’m looking for. Sometimes that’s not necessarily necessary. Usually I’ll meet with the client. I’ll mark up the plan and put my notes on there. I snap a picture of it and send it down to them. Then it starts the process or continues the process with that.

Greg H: Usually a phone conversation. Actually phone conversation or in person meeting is all you really need to get an understanding of how these clients live and what they’re looking for. It usually doesn’t take too much time to get a good understanding of people.

Jason: Yeah. Usually when we’re doing a plan, the first draft, what it is is a draft, but usually after two or three revisions through Greg’s team, it’s crazy how canny that third revision or second revision … You may have four or five other revisions after that. You may not, but they’re fine tuning. After those first couple, if everybody is doing their job right, they’ll really start honing in on what that final design is going to look like.

Greg F: Do you all try to meet for each project or Greg, do you try to meet with the end client for each project? Is a lot of this, again, virtual?

Greg H: A lot of it is virtual. Sometimes we will. I think like Jason mentioned earlier, it’s a client by client decision on that. Some clients, I feel like they want to meet with an architect. Some clients are scared of the whole idea of a process with an architect. I think it really does depend on individual clients, what their background and experience has been and then what their idea and perception of the process is moving forward.

Jason: Sometimes it’s site-specific too. We’ve built on some challenging lots over the years. If it is a challenging lot, Greg and his team will come up. We’ll walk the lot and really take the time to make sure we’ve got windows placed properly, doorways placed properly, so we can really take advantage of what a lot has to offer. It’s pretty cool stuff. That’s the cool thing about Greg. We’ll use him on our custom homes that are estate homes, but then … Would you say your bread and butter is traditional neighborhood design or … That’s how we got started working with you is your expertise in the TND world.

Greg H: Probably so. I mean definitely we’re inspired by tradition no matter where we design, whether it’s in traditional neighborhoods or outside of traditional neighborhoods. We try to find the balance between traditional inspiration and innovative floor plans and innovative certainly contemporary ideas, but we’re steeped in tradition no matter where we actually practice the architecture.

Jason: One of the reasons I was always drawn to Greg is for the longest time, his office was down in Beaufort, South Carolina. We definitely draw a lot of our inspiration from the south and from that low country. Do you have a favorite style? I know you tailor your style to your clients, but personally as an architect, do you have a certain style you like?

Greg H: You know, I probably do. Probably the Tudor style is my favorite. Interestingly though, I think style is a funny thing to discuss because knowing clients, if my clients say that they like craftsmen, for instance, and then they send you photographs, so often the photographs don’t at all match what I have in mind for the style. I try avoid speaking strictly in style and always try to get our clients to back it up with supporting images because honestly, styles are so different for so many different people. Yes. To your question, I think the Tudor style is probably my favorite, but there are so many. Just generally, most styles through the ages, the historic patterns that have been created are really pretty fascinating.

Jason: Yeah, I would agree with that. I can’t say that I have a specific style. I’m just a fan of good architecture, whatever that style happens to be. I think that’s one of the things I like about you guys is the proportions and details are always right on. They have to be because if they’re off just a little bit, your houses just … They don’t look right.

Greg H: Those are the things that our clients might not even notice, the specific thing that may or may not be wrong, but there’s something about it. I think especially it’s noticeable in traditional neighborhoods. You can walk down the street and if you don’t have a trained eye, you don’t see the specific things that make a difference, positively or negatively, but you know that it either feels right or it doesn’t feel right.  Most of our clients don’t have to know the specifics, but they know when they like something and they know when they don’t like something.

Greg F: Can you give us an example of if I walk down the street, walk out of this office and start walking around, what are … I could be connected enough to say, “I like this row of houses. Right here, this is a good feel for me.” What am I sensing but not seeing that you guys … that you just mentioned? You might see some of the detail. What would a general person feel but not see that you would pick up on? Say, “It’s because of this. It’s because of that.”

Greg H: I think for one, even just right outside the door here, I think the attention to detail on things like windows, doors, authenticity of materials is often probably not realized, but understood… or reverse that, not understood, but perhaps realized. Walking down the street I think, two, placement of porch in relationship to sidewalk and street. Proportion and scale of the building, meaning you would have a completely different experience if you walked down the street right outside our door and the houses had eight-foot ceilings on the downstairs. Everything would appear then squatty if you didn’t pull the porch up next to the street so it feels comfortable and scale around you. For instance, the porches were five and a half feet deep instead of a minimum of eight feet deep.

These things I think you start to notice if they’re done differently, but when they’re all done well, you just feel good about it. You feel like it’s done well. I think there’s probably a mile long list of things that if you change them, people wouldn’t know exactly what you changed, but they’d know something was off.

Greg F: Yeah. That’s funny to hear you hit on a couple of the same topics that Jason hits on frequently. He talks about the porches in the neighborhood. He talks about ceiling height. He talks about setbacks. The kind of stuff that I don’t think about on a day to day basis, but it’s interesting to hear you hit on. It’s no wonder the two of you are in sync and apparently in so many ways.

Jason: Well a lot of times, my clients are drawn to our houses versus others because they may not necessarily know the difference of why Jason’s windows look better. It’s because they’re more like a vertical proportion as opposed to maybe a square or horizontal proportion. It’s just more visually appealing to the eye. If you get your cornice work right, you get your headers right over the windows and you have a proper sized front door and proper detailing in your brick, all those things paint this prettier picture versus … Not saying that somebody else doesn’t do it right, but we spend a little bit extra effort to put some of those details in the houses.

Greg H: Right. Not too dissimilar to a good meal. You eat a good meal and all the spicing is right and all the different foods that go into that meal are right. Any of them being off, I think you’d notice.

Greg F: I really like that analogy.

Greg H: For some reason when you eat it, you just think it tastes wonderful. You don’t really dissect all the different things.

Greg F: Right. You don’t pull each taste out. It just works.

Greg H: It just works. I think that’s like architecture and building. We hope that generally they just love the house. They don’t have to know the 80 things we had to think about to make sure they love the house.

Greg F: Okay. I’ve always wondered that. Is it important for the client to think through all the different issues that you guys think through to get to the correct … That would be in quotes, I guess. The right end house. Or is it more important that a client says, “This is my general feeling,” and it really is your guys’ job to think about those 80 things? I don’t need to think about them all. I’ve just got to give you a broad brush picture.

Jason: Yeah. I think we’re the experts. The clients will give us a few parameters to run by, but they may not know what size to make their garage or how their hallways need to be or why their master needs to be more private from the living space and why we put an alcove so you can’t see directly into the bedroom from the foyer. As long as they give us a little guidance on some preliminary stuff, we’ll usually take care of the rest. We have our own internal checklist that we make sure we’re meeting all those items.

Greg H: Yeah. I don’t think they need to know. Some of them want to know and I think it’s actually fun working with clients who want to know why we think and do the things we think and do, but certainly most of them, that’s why they hire us. Right? We’ll get the 80 decisions right and they’ll make the 10 decisions that they need to make or whatever the numbers are.

Jason: No, that’s good. Give us a little overview of C3 Studios and what kind of work you guys are doing and where you’re working right now and what kind of the future looks like.

Greg H: Sure. We’ve been in business about six years in Knoxville. We do very little work in Knoxville, as a matter of fact. We do some custom houses in Knoxville. Most of our Knoxville work is commercial work though in the historic parts of downtown. We do some of the historic restorations, renovations in downtown Knoxville. Most of our work is outside of Knoxville in different parts of mostly southeast in unique neighborhoods. Mostly traditional neighborhoods, but some other neighborhoods. It is a bit of a niche design market. We do a lot of work in a lot of different traditional neighborhoods. We’ll design anywhere from probably low end, 400 to 600 square feet all the way up to over 10,000.

I would say there’s really no size limitation. It’s really a matter of quality of design. If we’re designing a 600 square foot house, it’s going to be a well-designed, well thought out 600 square foot house. In the age of the small house and people liking the idea of not necessarily bigger, but the right size and better … Better materials, better functionality, better quality. We feel like there’s no square footage range that we’re not comfortable designing.

In different parts of the country, we design different things for different people. Anywhere from homeowners that we design very specifically and very custom-oriented. We work with builders as well and we work with developers. We do residential design largely, but we also do master planning of entire neighborhoods. We do design review in neighborhoods that are already established to make sure that the houses coexist well with the houses that have already-

Jason: So do you get into… I know you’ve seen and worked with the Norton Commons Pattern Book. Do you guys actually get into developing your own pattern books for some of these neighborhoods?

Greg H: We do. Yeah. If we’re involved with the entire process, we will do … There are advantages being involved with the whole process, but we will. We’ll establish design guidelines. We’ll be town architects if we’re able to. It really makes for a pretty cohesive neighborhood. Too often, neighborhoods are developed and the status quo is going to an engineer to fit as many lots as he can. Then they give it to someone else to try to find floor plans for them. So often unfortunately in emergencies, sometimes we get involved with that too. They can’t find the right plans. Either the plans are too big, too small. We like to develop land plans or master plans for entire neighborhoods with the architecture in mind. To me, those things should be looked at simultaneously, not after the fact.

Jason: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Yeah. One of my goals one day is I’ve always thought it would be awesome to build either my own street or own small neighborhood, where we could really control from start to finish the whole entire feel of the neighborhood. It sounds like you may get to do that on a design perspective. I’d love to be able to do that on the building side.

Greg H: Absolutely. It’d be fun. Then from the very beginning, you create the vision and Norton Commons’s vision is awesome. It’s great to be a part of that, but to have control of the entire vision down to how the house meets the sidewalk, meets the street I think is an exciting prospect.

Greg F: Well I know before we started recording, we started talking about some of the things that are important on an architectural sense for … I know that you want to hold off on that, but I’m really looking forward to some of this discussion coming up on the next one.

Jason: Yeah. I think we can call this one … Put this one under wraps. Greg is going to join us for the next one, we’re going to really dive into the must haves if you’re designing a new home in today’s marketplace.

Greg F: How about a teaser? How about one or two, Greg, that you are mosts interested in talking about in a couple weeks when this comes out?

Greg H: Sure. Absolutely. I think the idea of a pantry that transcends our idea of pantry, meaning it’s a pantry that functions more like a secondary kitchen is trending right now. That just gives us opportunity to function better in the kitchen environment.

Greg F: Perfect. I’m looking forward to that.

Jason: I can’t wait to hear that one as well. Greg, thanks for joining us. You guys have a good day.

Greg H: Absolutely. Enjoyed it.