I recently came across Vincent Callebaut’s proposal for rebuilding Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I had never visited the original, though we studied it intensely in architecture school. The church’s architectural history and impact on what I do for a living is priceless. After seeing the renderings produced by Callebaut’s firm, it became extremely apparent to me what this world needs right now. It needs more Vincent Callebauts. His brave and extremely risky design responds to both the need to rebuild a piece of long standing, passionate history and an acknowledgment that the world is changing. Religion is changing. The environment is changing. People are changing. His design addresses all those issues in one sweeping stroke of a pencil, or computer generated vector line, whatever worked in his office. His design reflects Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris’ nod to its religious architecture, while challenging historical norms and an inherent acceptance of what “has always been right.” He turns design on its head to reinvent what Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris’ architecture has kept tried and true throughout the years. By incorporating into the design a garden for homeless people to care for and an all glass ceiling to connect to the environment, he still respects the church’s shape and form in a brilliant manner. We right now do not need to start over in this world, as some may believe. We cannot go backward as some may wish. We need to take a look inside ourselves, be honest about our history, be brave about our future and be true to our soul. I can only hope that the powers that be select Callebaut’s design. It is truly spectacular.

 Cathédrale Notre-Dame                     Cathédrale Notre-DameCathédrale Notre-Dame

When Indoor is Outdoor

We recently completed a restaurant project for an owner that wanted a space to function as both interior dining/bar and an exterior covered deck. How can a restaurant achieve both, one might ask? Through the use of materials suitable for exterior use like porcelain tile floors and cypress wood walls and a commercial line of outdoor furniture from a residentially known company, we achieved this duality of spaces. Glazing opens up the spaces and welcomes the outdoor environment inside. Sliding glass doors that disappear into a pocket give total flexibility to the space connecting it to an adjacent covered deck. When closed, they allow for a conditioned space, but visually allowing the patron to see outside. Large double glass doors stay open during temperate climates, but when closed, again remind diners where they are, close to the water. It is possible to achieve both types of spaces in one design.

restaurant architecture - Mar Vista Longboat Keyrestaurant architecture - Mar Vista Longboat Key

Repetition in Architecture

It always amazes me that some of the most interesting walls or ceilings or trellises are created by taking a simple shape or material and repeating it over and over again.  Ultimately, the end result reinvents the original piece in an abstract, but well defined, building element. The patterns become kinetic objects that a person experiences, both visually and often physically. The fact that a wall can be made of hundreds of single elements placed in a repetitive pattern and manipulated to create a three dimensional relationship rather than a single material used in its normal form is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of when one designs. The array of materials and opportunities can appeal to both artistic architects looking to create magazine inspired photos and residential feature walls for the average homeowner. The materials are endless and the patterns are infinite.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

Repetition in Architecture

Design Trends Exposed in Competition

Recently, a project completed by our firm, The Schimberg Group, was recognized in a local magazine. We watch less for who won “Home of the Year” awards and more for “what emerging trends are winning” and we watch in coastal areas around the world.  Much of what we design is built in a rather unforgiving coastal climate with beating sun, tropical rain and the occasional hurricane force winds. The closer the building site is to the coast, the closer it is to the roughest weather and we are always looking for innovations that artfully combine resistance to these elements with clean, modern design.  Here are a few things we are seeing:

  • More options for outdoor building materials, furniture and fabric. Architects and interior designers have been blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor rooms for decades but it seems the suppliers in residential furniture and fabric have embraced the idea with a noteworthy increase in options.
  • Geometric distinction between landscape and streetscape that is visually appealing, directional and environmentally responsible.  Walkways, driveways, and beach paths are punctuated with grass or shell, alternating with concrete, stone or tile. Pervious surfaces reduce run-off and recycle rainwater and if you frequent the tropics during rainy season, this is essential.
  • Resort-scale “poolscaping.” One example is a sun shelf pool that appears to float on a carpet of grass, free from a traditional raised edge, hedge or boundary of any sort.  Additionally, new elements are adding interest and expanding use such as fire pits and fixed lounge areas on solid surfaces surrounded by water.  This ‘poolscaping’ is expanding indoor-outdoor entertaining areas and giving private residences a resort vibe.
  • More height, concrete and steel. Changes in building codes and flood insurance premiums threaten even the most expansive budgets and architects are wisely designing to mitigate risk.

It is impossible to keep abreast of all the new ideas and materials available to architects and designers but award publications in print and online can be a quick way to spot the top line trends in a particular genre or specific climate.

Design Trends Exposed in Competition - schimberg architects

Silver Award for “Best Renovation/Remodel”

Design Trends Exposed in Competition - schimberg architects

Gold Award for “Best Bathroom”


Bad Architecture

I live in the bad architecture capital of the world; along with bad clothes, bad boob jobs and leopard skin high heel shoes.  Florida takes the cake for aesthetical breakdown.

However, rather than subjectively reacting to building design or interior selections, focus should be given to what architecture is truly about; proportion, scale, honesty towards materials used.

In a meeting recently, the client expressed concern with a building design style presented.  In response, a different style, British West Indies, was suggested.  The reaction, sort of like watching someone eat sea urchin, created a dialogue.

Bad Architecture - schimberg architectsWe discussed, rather than the semantic term chosen, the components desired. Balconies, tin roofs, naturally stained woods, large overhangs.

Architecture is about shaping elements into the built form in a cohesive, thoughtful and coordinated manner.  I’m pretty sure leopards never meant to be high heels.

Reinterpreting Architectural Styles for the Home of Your Dreams

By Barron Schimberg, AIA

If you could design your dream home, what type of architecture style would it be? Mediterranean? Modernist? British West Indies? Or maybe, you would prefer a mix of two or more styles.

Architectural styles typically describe buildings with certain features in common, including: construction materials; roof shape and pitch; window size, shape, and placement; door shape and placement; ornamentation and floor plan. Some styles are named for historic periods or regional influences.

Although each style is defined by a certain vernacular, every architecture style is open for reinterpretation—either on new construction or renovations.

Mixing styles is a wonderful way of creating a successful aesthetic.  As an architect, I enjoy creative challenges such as adding modernist elements to a classically styled home.

In some cases, a client’s preferred architecture style must be reinterpreted simply because building codes differ from those of the region where the style originated.

The key to successfully blending architectural styles is to start with a clear understanding of your preferences.  I ask clients to provide photos or other visuals of architectural design elements that they like.  Having a clearer picture of what you have in mind enables me to do some follow-up research on how to blend elements from different architectural styles.

Then, if the designs we create for you don’t represent what you had envisioned, it’s important to let us know as early in the process as possible! As we design your home, we’ll be making decisions that you can live with for years to come.

So as you start imagining the home of your dreams, keep in mind that it’s not necessary to limit yourself to one architectural style.

Instead, start clipping out magazine photos depicting the types of details you find most appealing. We can then translate your desires into an attractive, cohesive design that artfully merges one or more architectural styles.

Note that reinterpreting architectural styles to create a unique brand of architecture isn’t limited to the exterior of the building. In a future post on this blog, my partner Patty Schimberg will explain why interior design provides another opportunity to blend styles or marry the architecture to interior elements.  Balancing different furniture styles (i.e. contemporary pieces with antiques) within a particular architectural environment is a very welcome challenge, and one that we’re seeing more and more often.

If you have any questions about architectural styles and how they can be blended for your home, please feel free to call me at  941-894-6888 or email me at


HGTV Guide to Residential Architecture: A Primer about 24 Popular Architectural Styles