Designer Friday: Geoff Chick

Four years ago, Florida architect Geoff Chick traded in his Porsche for a pickup truck, and moved his family from a beachside home to a horse farm. This move, however shocking, is not out of character for the determined designer. Chick gets what he sets his mind to, including an architecture career beginning almost twenty years ago. The Massachusetts native found that suburban homes were no longer a personal family treasure, as they had once been, but instead mass-produced copies. In an effort to make homes personal again, he opened his architecture firm, Chick and Associates, and has been erecting single-family homes in the state of Florida that reflect the clients’ needs and dynamics for the past two decades. While luxury is important, Geoff knows that giving back is key; he has been involved in designing for therapeutic horse riding centers and health clinics. Now a farm-dweller, Geoff’s most recent projects include building a custom hen house for his farm, and learning to hunt wild turkey. Join me in conversation with Geoff this Designer Friday, and get to know the flip-flop lover and future farmer.

This Florida estate with a bit of Southern twang is big enough for a happy family, with plenty of windows and balconies to let the sunshine in.

Andrew Joseph – How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Geoff Chick – Four years ago, my wife and I decided to sell our home at the beach and move to a 75-acre horse farm. At the time, I was working long hours and spending very little time with my kids. We lived a few miles away from the office, and I found myself going in to work late at night and on the weekends. I didn’t even recognize the routine we had fallen into was unhealthy until we had made the decision to move. After selling our house, we had 45 days to locate a new home. A friend told us about the farm and we reluctantly agreed to schedule a showing just to humor him. When we arrived at the large open fields teeming with greenery and wildlife, something inside me changed. My eyes, my mind, and my heart opened up to find a new way to live.

Andrew – Vintage or new?
Geoff – I would have to say Vintage. Growing up in New England, I took for granted all the old buildings, the heritage of the cities and the patina of time on everything. Building homes in a beach town with no history, no old buildings or context to build around, you begin to appreciate the value of the imperfections and the layers of time. I love to use reclaimed wood flooring, brick and old warehouse beams in my projects. The juxtaposition of old and new brings life to our projects and begins to tell a new story. I’d like to think my homes will be around long enough for people to feel they are worthy of preservation and for the style to transcend fashion cycles.

Andrew – Must have clothing item everyone should have?
Geoff – Flip Flops! Living in Florida and working at the beach, flip flops are essential. In the spring and summer season, I wear flip flops and shorts to work every day. Being self-employed, I don’t have to follow a pesky dress code to look “professional.” Many of my clients are from out of state and prefer to wear casual attire when they come to visit me at the studio. It never felt comfortable to me wearing a suit to a meeting where your clients are fresh off the golf course. It also doesn’t work well for job site meetings or hot and humid weather.

Andrew – Favorite place to view art?
Geoff – Tossup between the old Whitney Museum in NYC, and the Tate Modern in London. I can’t recall the art, but the buildings were the star for me. While I live in the country now, I did go to architecture school in New York and grow up in Boston. It’s great to go back and visit to get a blast of culture and new experiences, but I’m always happy to get back home and slow it down.

Andrew – You are stuck on an island, you can pick one food to eat forever without getting tired of it, what would you eat?
Geoff – Eggs. We literally eat eggs every morning for breakfast, which is one of the benefits of living on a farm. I don’t like the kids to eat sugary cereals before school, and the protein keeps me from getting hungry during morning meetings. I’ve become very close to the chickens as well, who get to free range on the property to scavenge. There is also a custom designed chicken coop to match the architecture of the main house. A Geoff Chick chicken coop. Might be something to the last name.

Andrew – A skill you’re working on mastering?
Geoff – Farming, if you consider this a skill. Circling back to the life/work balance, the challenge of driving a tractor, stacking hay bales, feeding horses, keeping chickens and fixing everything was a learning experience. I’m sure you can imagine the comedy of the prototypical, type A architect moving to the country. I had to trade in my Porsche 911 for a pickup truck so I can trailer horses and haul firewood. I’ve started hunting wild turkey. All the activity has me in the best physical shape of my life, and I get to spend more quality time with my wife and kids, doing something we all love, in a beautiful place. Life is good.

Showing off his diverse design abilities, this project from Chick and Associates is a cool, contemporary dwelling for a family with a sense of style.

About The Designer | Inspired by the quality of life along the Gulf Coast, Geoff moved to the Florida Panhandle after earning his professional degree from Cornell University in 1996. A native of Massachusetts, Geoff has spent the ensuing years cultivating his knowledge of the area and its local building traditions.

Frustrated by the generic nature of the builder driven housing industry, he founded Geoff Chick & Associates in 2001. Dedicated to serving the needs of his clients with a more intimate collaboration, Geoff specializes in building single-family custom homes which are unique to the site and their occupants.

With extensive field construction experience and a substantial portfolio of built work, Geoff continues to create homes which manifest his profound sense of scale and the honest use of materials. His solutions are both pragmatic and poetic, merging established vernacular forms with a modern aesthetic.

Geoff is a registered architect in the State of Florida, is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and a member of the American Institute of Architects. Geoff resides in South Walton County with his wife, Shawn and their two children.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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