With over 40 years of experience in three-dimensional design, including both Architecture (licensed since 1983) and Sculpture, I also have deep experience in historic restoration and construction, including general contracting and hands-on skills in many of the building trades. Over these four decades I have built several successful businesses and have traveled, worked and lived around the world. I believe that I'm able to offer a synthesis of experience as an Architect, Builder and Sculptor, something which historically has been the role and definition of the word Architect. I believe that our built environment deeply affects our collective psyche and to the extent we pay attention to this subtle reality, the more positive effect we can have on our individual lives and society in general.
As with any voyage, if you're sailing with an experienced, skillful crew, the passage from an initial idea to its physical reality can be delightful and rewarding.
Excellent architectural design, regardless of the size or complexity of a project and in addition to the creative skill of the designer, demands close attention to many aspects. From a deep understanding of the people who will use the space to the surrounding natural and built environments, a successful building requires a mastery of materials, construction methods, cost engineering, communication and collaboration. A qualified Architect has all these abilities and more.
I listen very carefully to what my clients need in a project and take the necessary time to gather information, fitting together a multi-dimensional puzzle, making sure everyone is in agreement on the design parameters. I don't follow any particular style of architecture but rather create design solutions that reflect the people and places that are in fact the design foundation. I believe that our built environment deeply affects our collective psyche and to the extent we pay attention to this subtle reality, the more positive effect we can have on our individual lives and society in general.
I've learned that the best way to achieve this goal is through collaboration between the Client, the Architect and the Builder so that all three are co-authors of the project design. My practical approach is to develop drawings gradually, as our collective understanding of needs, function and form, materials and budget come into focus. There is a continuous feedback loop between these elements requiring many adjustments to keep the design intention in place. Once the design is solved, I essentially build the project on paper (or screen), thinking through and solving all the issues of the actual construction well before any building begins on the site. So by the time the construction starts, everyone involved is highly informed and surprises, delays and extra costs are minimized.
For more detailed information about my practice, please scroll down to see my Architectural Service Outline and of course feel free to contact me with any questions.
1994 to present - private Architectural practice
2015 to present- partner, Thea Sculpture Studios
2014 to present- partner, Renaissance Stone Carving Studio
2001 to present- professional Sculptor
1993 to 2001- study stone sculpture
1985 to1994- partner, Architectnique
1983 to present- licensed Architect
1981 to present - Builder/Contractor
1977 to 1983- freelance architectural design practice
2017 to present: Principal of Edward Fleming, Architect, New Orleans, Louisiana
2001 to 2017- Architectural design service in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Boulder, Colorado. Work included historic residential restoration, new residences, residential renovations and additions, site planning and green-cemetery planning, general contracting and hands-on construction. This work coincided with professional sculpure work.
1996 to 2001- Principal of Edward Fleming and Associates, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Work included large and small residential projects construction.
1995- Architectural consultation and hands-on construction and continued stone sculpture study in Pietrasanta, Italy.
1994 to 1995- Sabbatical. Studied stone carving/sculpture in New Mexico.
1993 to 1994- Principal of Edward Fleming and Associates, Washington, DC. Work included large new residential, mercantile and institutional projects and research and design for affordable building systems in developing countries.
1985 to 1993- Partner/Principal of Architectnique, Washington, DC. Work included large new residential, religious, commercial, mercantile, museum/gallery and small residential projects, general contracting and hands-on construction.
1977 to 1984- Freelance architectural design (while in school and working for other firms) which included large and small residential, hotel and restaurant projects and hands-on construction.
1976 to 1981- Bachelor of Architecture, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
1974 to 1976- Liberal Arts Education: major in English, minor in Architectural
History, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
1981 to 1983- Bryant and Bryant, Washington, DC
1979 to 1981- Architects South, New Orleans, LA
1979- Folse-Henningson, Durham, Richardson, New Orleans, LA
1977 to 1979 Nolan, Holcomb, Apatini and Seghers, New Orleans, LA
1976- Robert Murphy, Washington, DC
Work experience with these firms spanned from drafting/drawing production to project-architect responsibilities and design for residential, commercial, mercantile, educational, correctional and industrial projects.
American Institute of Architects (AIA),
Louisiana AIA, New Orleans
Current: State of Louisiana; State of Virginia; State of Colorado; State of Maryland
Previous: District of Columbia; State of New Mexico
Project Lists: (click to see more)
Architectural Service Outline
For most projects, my services are divided into four different phases that follow and build upon each other. These are called the Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Document and Construction phases. Depending on the project, it's not always necessary for me to complete or participate in all the phases, so my services can range from the full menu to à la carte. The following is an outline of those phases and information on fees:
A. Schematic Design Phase:
1. Goals for this phase:
My intention for this phase of service is to solve the design to your satisfaction and provide you with the minimal amount of graphics needed to reach a good understanding of cost. The best way to initially see and understand your project is with drawings. And the most effective way to present the project to your builder for preliminary costing information is with these drawings. With that information, you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with the project for a relatively small initial investment.
2. Design Programming:
This phase begins with your "Wish List", covering everything you can think of for your project, without regard to how any of it might work. At this stage if you allow yourself to dream and not worry about function or cost, you'll be more likely to express your complete idea. With that information, I can help you with form, function and budget, getting as close as possible to your dream while keeping your budget in control. The process I like to use is collaborative, where we're co-authors of the design and gradual, where we exchange ideas and information moving towards a highly creative as well as buildable solution.
From your wish-list, I'll develop a series of questions for you which I call the Program Question List. These questions will cover as much as possible, from your most general ideas to specific functions, sizes and elements of the building, to schedule and budget. I'll dialog with you to answer the questions and with that information will write the Design Program which will detail all the requirements for the site and building design. The more thorough a Design Program we create, the more quickly and economically I'll be able to solve the design.
During this stage and depending on the project, I may need other information such as an existing building survey, site survey, soil testing, utility survey, landscape survey, etc. I will also coordinate with the local authorities to research, as necessary, the zoning regulations and overlays, building codes, home-owners and/or neighborhood association rules; historic districts (local, state and national); waterway and wildlife protection districts and other authorities/regulations that would have an effect on the project. And if there is further research needed for the project, for example historical, archeological, etc., that can be done in the next part of the Schematic Design.
As part of the Design Programming, I can develop a rough construction cost study based on available information, such as total building or renovation area, local square-foot construction costs, coordination with local builders and suppliers, etc. If this study shows a conflict with the project budget, we'll have an opportunity to revise the Design Program (and/or budget) before I begin the design.
3. Schematic Design Drawings:
Once we're in agreement on the Design Program and if there's no further research needed, I'll begin the first plan sketches and present or send those to you for review. The assumption is that this will be a close answer to the Design Program but there are usually some minor refinements to be made since the drawings bring the abstract ideas into graphic focus. It's always possible to make bigger, even major or complete changes but since those changes would be on a different course from the Design Program, adjustments in programming and design fees would need to be made.
Following the first plans will be some minor revisions (as necessary) and then drawings showing the building in the vertical dimension: exterior and interior views, roof plans, cross-sections, etc. Depending on the complexity of the project there may also be preliminary structural, landscaping, lighting, kitchen / bathroom / other complex spaces and interior design drawings. Also, depending on the project and budget, I may develop a master plan and construction phasing schedule for realizing the project over a more extended period of time. Finally, I'll develop a preliminary specifications manual that will identify the building materials and finishes, the structural, mechanical, plumbing and electrical and special systems, as well as standards of construction quality.
These drawings and specifications will go through a process of your review and my refinement until we're in agreement on the basic design. With that information, we'll have the "talking tools" to work with builders and suppliers to develop a preliminary cost estimate for the project. And with those numbers, we can continue to refine or revise the design, as needed, to meet your budget. Paying close attention to this at the beginning of the project will give you much better control of the project budget.
At this point I can also give you a detailed proposal for the next phase and estimates for the other two.
Over the years I've learned that one of the most useful design tools that exists is a 3-D model of the project. This allows everyone, the Owner, Builder, Architect and anyone else with an interest in the project, to see what it will look like fully in three dimensions and in any lighting condition. With this information, we can make changes before committing to more detailed drawings, not to mention actual construction. And those changes can be made easily and relatively inexpensively on the drawings as opposed to what could be prohibitively difficult and expensive once the construction has been started or completed. A model can be built in tangible materials such as cardboard or electronically using a variety of computer systems. Although not essential to the project, the model (cost of which varies depending on level of detail) will almost always pay for itself with the advance knowledge it provides.
I've learned that the mystique of the solitary Architect-genius is just that, an illusion. The strongest and very best projects that I've been a part of were all based on collaboration between the Owner, Architect and Builder. Depending on the project, there may be other important consultants as part of this collaboration. With mutual respect and teamwork, this group creates the best possible combination of inspiration, insight and skill. And with this organization, the success of the project is in everyone's best interest. This approach is different than the traditional model, but I can point to many highly successful projects that owe their success to this collaboration which affects everything from design, budgeting and cost-engineering to quality of the construction. So I encourage meeting your builder or interviewing prospective builders with you and creating this team from the very beginning.
B. Design Development Phase:
Now that the basic design is completed, I can explore the best way to actually build the project. So, in this phase I will develop drawings that show the structural, plumbing, heating/air-conditioning and electrical/lighting systems as well as any special systems, more detailed site and landscape planning and, depending on the project, a more refined master-plan and phasing schedule. And dovetailed with these drawings will be a more developed specifications manual. In addition to this, we’ll discuss in greater detail and make decisions on: interior and exterior materials and finishes; kitchen and bathroom cabinets; appliances; lighting and light fixtures; plumbing fixtures and fittings; other interior design aspects and landscaping. We'll continue with our dialog of review and refinement of the Design Development drawings and specifications as they progress, so you'll have an active role during this phase.
With the Design Development drawings and specifications, we can work with your builder and local sub-contractors and suppliers to develop a more accurate cost estimate. And with that information we can either continue to refine the design or proceed with the Construction Documents.
At this point I can provide a detailed proposal for the next phase and a more accurate estimate for the Construction Phase.
C. Construction Documents Phase:
By now we should be clear on the project design, budget and schedule. So my task now is to, essentially, build the project on paper. During this phase I will develop drawings and specifications (some in collaboration with consultants) that cover every single aspect of the project from the structural foundation to the last brush of paint. The Construction Documents are a manual for building the project to such a level of detail that there will be no room for questions or assumptions about materials or quality of construction. They will assure that what we designed will be built as designed. The Construction Documents become part of your contract with the builder to construct the project and in addition to being the book of directions they are also a legal document. So, attention to detail at this stage is critically important.
The proposal for the last phase of architectural services will depend on some variables, which are presented next.
D. Construction Phase:
Traditionally, at this phase the Architect inspects the construction progress on a regular cycle, such as weekly, and is on-call to answer questions for and solve problems with the Builder and Owner. The traditional role of the Architect changes a little here so that he/she becomes an intermediary between the Owner and Builder as opposed to a direct consultant to the Owner. In the collaborative model I've described, it's a much friendlier association and the construction, which always holds some surprises, is a collaborative process with decisions being made in the best interests of the project and those involved.
Assuming you would like this kind of oversight for the construction, for projects at long-distance from my location I like to have a local professional, preferably a licensed Architect, provide this service. This person is one of the other important consultants that I mentioned in the section about collaboration. Depending on the project, it may also be beneficial to have this person involved with the Construction Document phase.
In my practice I divide the work into different levels of professional service; these are listed below. Generally speaking, Principal time is that related directly to designing; Project Architect time relates to managing the technical aspects of the project and Drafting time is for making the drawings, either by hand or CAD once the design and technical aspects have been solved. Please contact me directly for current hourly fees.
- Principal Architect
- Project Architect
- Modeling (solid or electronic): by separate proposal
- Civil, Structural, Mechanical and Electrical engineering: by separate proposals
- Reimbursable expenses: printing; scanning; shipping; travel expenses:
Based on the scope of work, I will provide proposals/fee estimates for each phase of the project to be agreed upon before I proceed with any work for that phase. There are no fees for the proposals.
There is no fee for our initial meeting and depending on the project, an initial site meeting may also be provided at no fee.
Only time directly related to the project is invoiced.
Reimbursable expenses are billed at 1.1 cost.
Invoicing is usually monthly, based on work accomplished for that month. This may vary depending on the project and schedule.
You can postpone or stop the project at any time with written notification to me. I will invoice only for my time and reimbursable expenses up to the date of notification.
This is my story of becoming an Architect. Unlike a formal resume and lists of projects, this is a more nuanced description of a life-journey that has led and contributed to the person and professional you may be considering commissioning for your project. I hope this will be helpful in your decision-making.
At age 5, my first project was “renovating” an outbuilding on a property my family was renting in New Haven, Ct. That was when I realized how much I love the process of building and what a profound affect a built space has on people, from simple shelter to a sense of well-being. At that age I couldn’t articulate any of this but sawed and hammered away on that little building every free minute I had. Over the next several years, this passion evolved into several different tree-houses at other places we lived. The last of which, at our new home in suburban Washington, DC, I built between three tall pine trees, creating a 3-story, sharp triangular form that pre-dated I.M. Pei’s East Building of the National Gallery of Art by almost 15 years. (In the 102 years of his life, Mr. Pei never did acknowledge that….) I’d buy nails from the hardware store a few pounds at a time from my lawn-mowing income; my friends and I would salvage discarded lumber from nearby construction sites. I can remember camping out on that treehouse roof under the moon, looking through the tree-tops and feeling the wonder of it all.
Fast-forward to under-graduate school and my first sculpture class where I discovered a variation on the theme of spatial design and building. What began as an impressive academic record quickly dissolved as I virtually moved into the sculpture studio. There was no end to the ideas and a freedom of expression and experimentation that didn’t exist with building as I had known it. When I announced to my father that I was going to be an Artist, and after he finished laughing, I began to understand that, at least in my family, this was not an acceptable profession; I needed to get a “real” job. So, after thinking about how close I could stay to Art, the obvious answer was Architecture. My grades then began to improve substantially.
During the course of a 5-year professional degree program at Tulane University, where the lights never went out at the Architecture School building, I also worked/apprenticed for several New Orleans Architectural firms. There I learned from masters the art of designing and drawing many different types of buildings from residential to business, institutional and industrial. This was a heady experience, so much to learn from such a rich history and talented, kind people. (One of them told me something that was both inspiring and discouraging: that an Architect begins to reach his or her full potential in their 60’s, not an easy thing to consider in your early 20’s.) Also while in school, I renovated my apartment in trade for rent and through that started my own design business. My $5/hour fee basis led to many different projects and a different kind of education about working with people and running a business. This period of time was also a precious opportunity to live in the city that’s been my family’s home-town for many generations.
When I graduated Architecture school, New Orleans was experiencing an economic downturn, so having to face that reality I returned to Washington, DC to complete my professional internship in order to take the licensing exams. Over those 2 years I also designed, built and lived in through construction my first speculative project: a total renovation of the 10’-wide townhouse that I was trade-renting in historic Georgetown. This period of my life was intense and part of what became a 7-year, 7-day/week effort to establish myself in Washington.
That first project led to many others and within that same time I earned my Architect license and opened my first professional office. That led to a 10-year partnership with one of my best friends from Architecture school. During that time, we saw the kind of success, both artistically and financially, that young Architects dream of. We designed and oversaw the construction of many complex and challenging projects and developed a number of life-long friendships with clients and builders along the way.
Towards the end of the partnership, during a relatively calm period, I decided to take a night course in stone sculpture at the Corcoran School of Art. That very first night, when I heard the sound of a steel hammer striking chisel to stone, I was transported to another plane of reality. It felt to me like I was hearing something from my genetic memory. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. This led to some big changes.
Returning to Art
Getting deeper into sculpture again, I experienced a sort of ethical crisis. As an Architect, I hold a high level of trust from my clients which I’ve always respected and taken seriously. When I realized how preoccupied I was with the sculpture, it became clear to me that I was not able to give 110% of my attention and energy to my clients. After serious soul-searching, I decided to pursue the professional Artist dream that I’d abandoned almost 20 years earlier. I continued to accept architectural commissions during this time, but at a considerably slower pace, for special clients and exceptionally interesting projects.
With that decision and my wife’s encouragement, we took our two very young children on what became a 10-year adventure that began in Italy, then to Costa Rica and finally New Mexico. There are many stories from that time, both delightful and tragic, but staying on course for this essay, my sculpture career continued in Norther New Mexico for another 10 years.
During that time in New Mexico, I met a Sculptor named Sherry Tipton. In addition to studio work, commissions, art exhibitions and teaching, we began to attend international sculpture symposia which took us around the world, from Europe to Turkey and China. We were married in Northern Greece where we’ve made monumental sculpture for several symposia.
After roughly 21 years of living the dream of being a professional Artist, I realized that I’d accomplished what historically and classically was the necessary training to become a master Architect. So, in 2016 as we began our life transition from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, I made another transition to consciously blend the two professions and re-establish myself as an Architect and Sculptor, here in New Orleans where it all began.
I believe that our lives, like everything else in the universe, are circular. Returning home to the European city of New Orleans has been exciting and rewarding on many levels. I look forward to continuing to make positive contributions to the extraordinary architecture of this city as well as bringing that dedication to other parts of the country and the world. The adventure continues.