plan views

October 16th 2012 Comments: 13 Topics: ,

Phone rings
Richard: “Good Morning, McAlpine Tankersley”.
Caller: “Do you guys sell house plans?”
Richard: slams the phone down (not really. actually he’s usually very nice to them).

This scenario happens often. Its as if our entire office’s combined talents, college educations, decades of experience and multiple professional licenses have reduced us to “house plan dealers”. The fact of the matter is, the planning of a house is only the beginning of the architectural process. It’s not just a haphazard shuffle of room sized boxes, mechanical systems and kitchen triangle formulas. The creation of a plan is a careful, precise and deliberate orchestration of a client’s individual life. It’s the art of maneuvering dreams, desires, functions, budget and idiosyncrasies. Oh, and in the end it has to produce something that is three-dimensionally beautiful. It’s sort of like juggling a bowling ball, a peanut and a flaming torch, all the while looking graceful and calm.

The floor plan is really the DNA of the house. It outlines the heart, circulatory system and orifices. Paths resolve, destinations are established and relationships are sturdied. It’s not a dull, formulaic activity; it’s the inspired seed of design. We revel in the creation of a unique plan elevating our client’s day-to-day life.

So, no, we don’t sell house plans. We don’t offer a one-size-fits-all-drive-around-to-the window-please product. Instead, we sell bespoke sanctuaries providing haven from the noisy, hectic world that exists outside your door. We seek to find order in mundane daily home life and resolve it into a graceful, beautiful and celebratory journey.

Try ordering that in the back of a magazine.

Bobby McAlpine’s original sketch for a plan

A section of a developed schematic floor plan with furnishings


  1. Jeffrey Owens says:

    well, that saves me a call, I suppose. 😉

  2. Eric says:

    “like juggling a bowling ball, a peanut and a flaming torch, all the while looking graceful and calm.” Well said; love it!

  3. C Lehnhoff says:

    Your post makes you sound elitist. I am a big fan of your work, but I could never (ever) afford one of your homes. I am thinking that maybe the callers looking for plans are trying to see if there is a way that they can own one of your homes. This may be a missed opportunity. Have you ever thought that you may want to find a way to make some of your ideas affordable to those that aren’t super wealthy? I know that you can’t be all things to all people, but there are those of us out here that can only dream.

    • mcalpine tankersley says:

      Thanks for being such a big fan. I apologize if the post came across as elitist; that was not my intention at all. I was merely speaking up for the value inherent in the works of professional architects and interior designers. When consumers can go out and buy an off-the-rack floor plan or sofa, why should they pay more for what can be seen as the same offering? I assert that the experience, artistry and poetry of these respective professions are worthy of hire. I once had a project where the husband did not want to hire us to do their house. His wife insisted. After the home was completed, he told me he was going to write a book called “Building For Dummies” and that the first chapter was going to simply say “Hire An Architect”.

      • lance Williams says:

        What Lenhoff said. I remember my wife and I falling in love with a Bobby McAlpine house nearly two decades ago in Montgomery before you all decided you were too cool for school. Robert a.m. Stern and John Murray and David Adler, Paul Williams and Jon Woolf. If your fans put you in the company of those greats and enjoy cruising the net looking for snippets of your work, maybe you too are good enough to have Assouline publish a coffee table book of your architectural wonders. But, I guess the genius of MT could never really be captured by a lousy coffee table book. Who knew?

        • Greg Tankersley says:

          I stand by my reply to M. Lenhoff. I’m honored you found and appreciated our work 20 years ago. But after 30 years of experience, work and growth, I still assert we be paid for our custom artistry in the business model we’ve created. If that makes us “too cool for school”, so be it. As for us being “too good” to put our work in coffee table book – we currently have two bestselling books published by Rizzoli and are working on two more. In all of these, however, we do not publish floor plans out of respect to our client’s privacy.

  4. Kevin H. says:

    Very well said, and can be applied across many professions. Crafting an investment portfolio works the same way.

  5. Cyndia Montgomery says:

    To the commenter above: your post wasn’t elitist at all. As you say, what you perform is ARTISTRY, and you can’t just run down to the corner store and pick that up for $12.99, or whatever house plan books are going for these days. I am inspired when I look at your designs, even though I know I probably will never be able to afford one for myself.
    And as a decorator, I’ll add that my least favorite call is the one where the first question is: How much do you charge?

  6. Sue Murphy says:

    Bravo! Well said. What people don’t realize when they hire an experienced professional, is that they are paying for all of those years of hard work, research, mistakes made and corrected, and education, in other words the EXPERIENCE, which will make their project even more beautiful, functional and one of a kind. We turn to these types of professionals so our homes are not cookie cutter. To those people who can’t afford to hire them, take the opportunity to be inspired by them. These professionals very graciously allow their projects to be photographed for us all to see and be inspired by. Study them and take something away for your own use.

  7. kevin says:

    Sometimes we need to see house plans so we can get a better idea of what can be done.

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