Rights of Passage

May 7th 2015 Comments: 7 Topics: ,
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. – Isaac Asimov

Transition has been on my mind a lot lately.
Perhaps it’s because this week marks my sole child’s final stretch of high school. Soon, she’ll be moving off, starting a new life far away from us as a college freshman. Or, it could be because my wife and I are preparing to move to a new city where I’ll be opening a new branch of our business. Come to think of it, upheaval and evolution surround me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of those weird creatures that relishes change. I think all designers do – it’s part of our DNA. The trick is pulling off transition gracefully and doing it the right and smart way.  Proper planning is a big part of accomplishing this.

When we program a house with a client, we always make it a point to discuss the inevitable progress of life. We feel strongly that a house should grow and evolve like the family it shelters. One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when building a house is the tendency to build for the “right now.” That’s short sighted because “right now” doesn’t last for very long. That’s why we try to guide our clients to put themselves into the future and consciously plan for transition. For example, we can design an active and rambunctious family house that can work just as well when it’s an empty nest. Your house should feel as comfortable for two as it does for twenty. After all, one shouldn’t have to discard a house and get another for every phase of life;  change is painful enough without having to throw perpetual moving boxes into the mix.

Currently, in the building industry, there’s much talk of the importance of “green” architecture. If our houses are designed to grow and age along with us, how much more “green” can you get?

Here’s a few family houses that we designed with these thoughts in mind:



back exterior



Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. Congratulations to your daughter, and to her parents for guiding her successfully through those early school years. Congratulations to you, too, a new office in a new city will be an adventure.
    I love the houses McAlpine Tankersley design!

  2. Kathi Odom says:

    Our home has transitioned nicely, even though we miss this nest being full. This place has embraced our journey in to being just 2. Come on over, we have room!!

  3. Schuyler Wack says:

    As always, a delightful read packed with wisdom and insight. Love the “green” perspective.

  4. Laura Short says:

    Ah, transitions. Two weeks ago, I became 60 years old. How did this happen?!? I look in the mirror, and I still see an awkward 17 year-old… Now, I celebrate the natural transition from two Daughters to four GrandSons; a bigger house (my 24th move in 39 years!) to hold us all (so much for empty-nest syndrome); more garden to work, to enjoy, to hold all that energy. What joy!

  5. Angela says:

    Best wishes to your daughter–what a wonderful point in her life. And, yes, “green” also means using, appreciating and loving what we have. We are a mobile society, for sure, but there’s something especially meaningful about spending our years in a single home that accommodates our evolution through life.

  6. Jim Moon says:

    As one ages, concerns grow over accessing things like dormer side walls for maintenance. At 65 I was comfortable working off a ladder or scaffold, at 72 I no longer have the desire to work on a roof or on my dormer. Green house design should have at least some degree of the need for maintenance access. I am finding it exceedingly difficult to contract component maintenance in my market area. It is partly a design responsibility to design for aging owners.

    By the way, the homes shown on this page are awesome and in keeping with my number one rule of home design – “don’t celebrate the damn garage!”. Really appreciate the fact that if a garage exists it is hidden from street view making your design truly noteworthy in my estimation.

  7. Wanda Hodge says:

    Greg- I am so proud of you! Especially, since I have had the joy of seeing your talent “expose” itself, even before you were in first grade and watched you as you used that talent thru these past years. You have truly recognized your talent was given you from our Heavenly Father and honored Him by using it in a beautiful way.
    We missed you and the family last week-end. Give our best wishes to your beautiful daughter and I am anxiously waiting to see what beauty and talent will be shown thru her choice of career and the use of her talent. Give her and your sweet wife out love. God bless you all.

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