The B&D Interview: Donna Aldrich, Principal, Architectural Color Design at William Hezmalhalch Architects

With over 25 years of architectural color and interior design experience, Donna has enriched WHA’s architectural designs for a wide variety of project types in diverse, geographic regions.

Builder & Developer: We’re exploring curb appeal and exteriors this issue – in what ways are these linked?

Donna Aldrich: With only one chance at a first impression, curb appeal is everything. The synthesis of the land plan, architecture, and landscape design creates the optimum dynamic to create the best first look. It’s no surprise that many of the best- selling new residential neighborhoods occur in master-planned communities. “While new home sales grew 9 percent last year, master-plan sales grew 20 percent,” per John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Similar coordination efforts that unite the exterior building design with landscape and the surrounding area provide the same benefits to stand-alone new home communities that are not a part of a master-plan. These projects not only make the best first impressions, but they are both memorable and timeless.

B&D: What should architects keep in mind when making design decisions in terms of curb appeal and exterior facades? Are there certain factors that should be considered from the get-go?

DA: The most advantageous time to focus on building materials, colors, and their application is early in the design process, as elevations are emerging. These integral elements, which further define the architectural style of the building and enhance its curb appeal, can require extensive research to determine applicability, available material sizes, installation methods, and the resolution of effective terminations and details. When building materials and colors are considered from the start, more successful designs will be achieved and potential problems affecting the later phases of the architectural process can be avoided.

B&D: What role do product manufacturers play in curb appeal and exterior material selections?

DA: Building product manufacturers and their distributors play key roles in keeping architects and designers informed about trends, their latest material and color introductions, technical data, installation methods, specifications, and samples, samples, samples. They can assist in turning a unique design concept into a material specification that realizes the vision. They are also an integral part of quality control during installation helping to ensure execution that enhances the curb appeal of the design.

B&D: A What were some popular trends in 2017 in regards to exterior design, material, and color palettes

DA: The wave of contemporary design continued to gain momentum in 2017. Some of the most conservative residential builders joined the movement into higher density, more vertical architecture with stream-lined, modern-styles even for their suburban markets. The most popular building materials and colors were those supporting this design trend. Manufactured stone was large-sized and rectilinear with flat surfaces in a variety of textures. Brick was smaller-scale, longer, and thinner with stacked bond coursing. Wood-look siding products made in metal, high-pressure laminate, fiber cement board, and porcelain tile, with large formats, uncommon sizes, and finishes emulating natural stain colors dominated specifications. 2017 color trends couldn’t have been more divergent. White and black were wildly popular, often paired together, along with a preponderance of gray. These neutral palettes were often accented by “pops” of color. “Pops” were all over the color wheel from yellow to purple, warm to cool.

B&D: What design/material/color trends do you predict will be waxing and waning in 2018?

DA: Contemporary design solutions will continue to evolve in 2018. Trends always cycle — traditional to modern and modern back to traditional with the extreme apex of one begging for a little of the other.

Historically referenced residential architecture had an overextended run. Contemporary design, materials, and cooler colors, especially gray, were long overdue to trend back into favor providing a much-needed change and a refreshingly broadened color palette to work with. But modern design, at its extreme, can be stark and dehumanizing. As daily life becomes increasingly embedded with the latest digital technology, there’s a real need for humans to connect more with nature. Eclectic designs that blend new and old, modern with traditional, can provide balance between inorganic and organic to humanize our built world. The very first manufactured stone introductions of the year are already speaking to these intersections with a comingling of precision and nature, clean lines, and textural finishes with cool gray and earth tone combinations. Colors overall are trending back into more complex hues influenced by the environment. The line- up for 2018 Color of the Year from major paint companies and Pantone is much less divergent. Blue dominates and influences the majority of selections whether “Black Flame,” a black with indigo undertones, or “Ultra Violet,” a bluebased purple, or “Oceanside,” “In the Moment,” and “The Green Hour,” all variations of blue and green blends – what could be more natural?

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