If you are a fan of clean, modern design, then keep reading. Actually, prepare to swoon. If, however, you prefer a more dramatic, Baroque aesthetic, then this might not be your cup of tea. But I still suggest you grab a scone and sit down for a few.
John Senhauser of John Senhauser Architects is in the business of designing dream homes. Well, my dream homes. Nearly every picture in the gallery has me saying, "I want!" And then I say it again, on repeat. But you know what's almost nearly as satisfying as a gallery full of beautiful homes? Some really insightful responses about the process of making said homes.
So without further adieu, here's Mr. John Senhauser, architect extraordinaire.
Cincinnati Refined: What first inspired your interest in architecture?
John Senhauser: About the age of 12, I somehow came to realize that everything around me was designed, either by nature or mankind. Some designs were better than others, particularly when it came to buildings. My father introduced me to Charlie Marr, the architect who designed all of the civic structures in my small town (library, post office, county seat, high school, Grandmother’s house, etc.) and this seemed to be a great career to do meaningful design work.
CR: What was your first professional start in the industry, and when did you break out on your own?
Senhauser: My first professional experience was with Smith Stevens Architects, a firm founded by two of my UC professors. It was probably my graduate school for the next five years. Having always had a strong interest in housing, I sought work with a builder/developer designing houses and managing a subdivision for the next three years. Learning that I was a better architect than developer, I started my architectural practice in 1979.
CR: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Senhauser: I consider myself a modernist in a spatial and tectonic sense, rather than in the stylistic sense. We seek durability not fashion. Each project gives us the opportunity to tell the story of our practice a little differently rather than telling a different story.
CR: Who are some famous architects (past or present) that you most admire?
Senhauser: CFA Voysey, Le Corbusier, Luis Barragan, Louis I. Kahn, Richard Meier, and my mentor and friend, David L. Niland.
CR: When given a new assignment, what’s the first thing you do to envision the space?
Senhauser: It doesn’t start with arm-waving. We try to listen to discover a client’s aspirations and to carefully study the site before suggesting anything. For us, it is an iterative process where projects are about place and the people who inhabit them, not necessarily about type or style.
CR: What’s your favorite room to design in a house?
Senhauser: A kitchen is probably my personal favorite, although I seldom treat them as rooms. Because kitchens are basically furnished, they offer the chance to express detail which reinforces ideas about the home and further defines its character, often through a rich and varied material palette. Kitchens also lend themselves to poetic notions — ritual, making, and gathering.
CR: How about your least favorite or most challenging?
Senhauser: Let’s go with most challenging... The bath is that type of space because it's more than getting the appropriate fixtures in predictable locations. Like the kitchen, the bath offers (even demands) thoughtful consideration of spaces and forms which enrich our daily routines and habits.
CR: Do you draw designs on paper, or has everything turned digital?
Senhauser: I still do early design work by hand, but we are, more often, gathered around multiple screens to collaborate and to critique early design models and directions. As I noted, it is iterative, so we try, edit, and try again until we feel we have it right. That can happen with layers of tracing paper or numerous digital models.
CR: What project(s) are you most proud of?
Senhauser: Being recognized for consistently producing a distinguished body of work for exceptional clients has been an immense honor. During that time, there have been more than 60 employees of varying tenures who have passed through the firm. Many of them have gone on to produce some very notable efforts of their own. While I can’t take credit for their work, I hope that I was able to have influenced the process and instilled the desire to push architecture forward to articulate the constructed world. Why? One person can do great work, but many people doing great work can change the culture. That is my passion.
CR: Any exciting upcoming projects you can discuss?
Senhauser: The high rise tower currently topping out at Eighth and Sycamore should be completed by the end of the year. We are the Design/Associated Architect with Neyer Architects for that building. At Eighth and Main, we are hoping to start another high rise apartment tower in association with glaserworks. These projects are exciting because I can (finally) cross “tower crane” off my bucket list!
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Swooning yet? If not, I'm pretty sure the photos will do the trick. Scroll back to the top to view the gallery.
For more information, you can visit John Senhauser Architects website, or check out a story we did a few months back featuring a farmhouse he designed.