CONTEMPORARY P.O.V: HOW AUSTIN ARCHITECT CHRISTOPHER SANDERS CREATES

Part of what makes Austin such a special place to live is the incredible pieces of architecture that combine cool design with the city’s natural beauty. It creates a look that those near and far have come to symbolize about the place we call home.

ModXMan’s Rob Giardinelli caught up with acclaimed architect Christopher Sanders who describes his point of view as an architect, the importance of incorporating the natural beauty of Austin in his designs and how he sees architecture evolving in Austin going forward.

Christopher Sanders

Rob Giardinelli: What made you realize that architecture and design was your passion?

Christopher Sanders: I grew up in a small town and art was an outlet as a young kid. What set me apart from other kids in East Texas was a love and appreciation for art and that I wanted to channel as an adult. In college, I chose architecture and haven’t looked back at the moment because I knew from day one when I started studying architecture.

W Hotel residence. Photography by Ryann Ford. Interior design by Mark Cravotta.

RG: In one word or phrase, how would you describe your architectural point of view?

CS: Of its place. By that I mean, everything we design begins with the spirit of the place and we try to build on that.

RG: As someone who designs both commercial and residential projects, what is the biggest challenge in balancing those two seemingly different sets of clients?

CS: It’s all about the people who occupy the space. How people use it is a universal question you have to answer regardless of what you are designing. You have to put yourself in the position of projecting forward of how you want people to occupy or utilize the space being created. Commercial spaces require more flexibility, which will have different activities than a home, which on a traditional level, have the same continual uses.

Tarrytown house. Photography by Merrick Ales. Interior design by Christen Ales.

RG: You’ve given back to the Austin community through being actively involved in the Waller Creek Conservancy and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. How influential is nature in your approach to design?

CS: It goes back to that childhood in East Texas where our weekends and vacations were spent doing outside activities. That’s ingrained as a part of me and my participation in these organizations draw from my love of nature and conservation. I am inspired by the proportions of nature, its beauty and its textures, as well as how can we can incorporate materials while minimizing the impact on a habitat in our designs so they become a part of the environment. For example, we’ve worked hard to incorporate green roofs in our design in a thoughtful way that goes beyond lip service and are appropriate for their physical location.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Kiosk. Photography by John Foxworth and Bruce Leander.

RG: We live in a high-growth and ever-changing city. How has your design aesthetic evolved with the city of Austin?

CS: It’s evolved by understanding people who appreciate well-designed spaces that may be considered small by some. People here want to live close in to where things are happening and because of that they are open to living and working in smaller, bespoke types of spaces. It’s easy to make a space big and it’s not a luxury we have in Central Austin, so listening to clients and designing a space around how they want to live and work is key.

3TEN at Austin City Limits Live. Photography by Ryann Ford. Interior design by Heather Vockins for Stratus Properties.

RG: In your view, what how will Austin’s design landscape evolve over the next ten years

CS: There will be more condominium-type spaces in Central Austin, beyond the scope of downtown. Places like Tarrytown, Hyde Park and Travis Heights are going to become more densely populated. The increased density of Central Austin will yield more walkable spaces as a result.

For more information on Sanders Architecture, please visit https://www.sanders-architecture.com

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