Dan Brown, director of residential design at Hufft Projects, says the hardest part of his job is finishing residential projects.
“You become friends with the clients and it’s hard to say goodbye to the house when you’re finished, because you’ll never visit it like that again,” he says. “You’ll get invited over to dinners, but you can’t take your family and friends to see it because its not yours anymore.”
Brown was the lead architect on the Meeks’ house in Prairie Village. While his designing time is currently divided fifty-fifty between commercial and residential, he’s had more experience in residential.
“That’s how the company grew,” he says. “I would never not want to do residential. If it came down to choosing one, I’d choose residential. I really love the connections and really getting to know people. That’s the funny thing: People ask what’s the difference between residential and commercial architecture and design. I literally have a conversation with every single client about their showering habits. In commercial that’s not something you do.”
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Hufft Projects is a design collective that includes architects, designers, artists and craftsmen. The team can fabricate anything from a brass drawer pull to a powder-coated aluminum bathtub at its 60,000-square-foot studio in the old Wolferman’s Grocery plant next to Roanoke Park.
Among the fabricating equipment you’ll find at the studio are a small Form-labs 3-D printer used for creating prototypes, a commercial-grade spray paint room and a 5,000-pound computer numerically controlled router that they call Tiny. It can cut a range of materials including solid wood, acrylic, laminate and metals to accuracies of 0.001 inches, about the width of a human hair.
“It’s one of the reasons we started the build-side of the business, to eliminate problems with understanding why something is constructed a certain way,” says Brown.
Founded by architect Matthew Hufft and his wife, Jesse, in 2005, Hufft Projects is often lauded as one of the Kansas City area’s best architectural firms. Architectural Digest put it on its list of Architects on the Rise in 2015.
The firm has had a hand in designing and building at least two dozen homes and more than 20 commercial developments. It is about to begin redeveloping the historic downtown Savoy Hotel and Grill into a 21c Museum Hotel. The Louisville, Ky.-based hotel company has been rated among the best in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.
Brown, who studied architecture at the University of Kansas, says he draws most of his inspiration from his clients and the people he works with.
“I don’t go to books very much,” he said. “We try to define our own style.”