About Edward Fleming
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 deeply I love the process of building and what a profound effect 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 Wing 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 the building profession 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 hometown for many generations.
When I graduated Architecture school, New Orleans was experiencing an economic downturn. Having to face that reality, I returned to Washington, DC, to complete my professional internship that would allow me 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. 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 heard 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 had become with sculpture, it became clear to me that I could not 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 Northern New Mexico for another 10 years.
During that time in New Mexico, I met another Sculptor 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 sculptures 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 and culture of this city and bringing that dedication to other parts of the country and the world. The adventure continues.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- National AIA
- Louisiana AIA, New Orleans
- Current: State of Louisiana; State of Virginia; State of Maryland
- Previous: District of Columbia; State of New Mexico; State of Colorado