After navigating the industry as a young architect, Neal Thomson decided to begin a boutique architectural firm with another industry figure. After more than a decade of collaboration with Patrick Cooke, Thomson & Cooke Architects has emerged on the scene, ready to cater to a Washington landscape that craves redesigned spaces and fresh buildings. Neal Thomson talked to us about his path to the helm of his own firm and the excitement of “being on the come up.”
District Home Magazine: What’s it like to head your own firm now? How does that compare to past experiences?
Thomson & Cooke Architect : Last year was a really exciting year. We decided to take the leap and start Thomson & Cooke Architects fulfilling a long-time goal for both of us. As owners, we feel a greater responsibility to our clients as trusted advisors and we're personally invested in the success of each of our projects in a way we never were before.
We’ve always worked for full service architecture firms—those that provide feasibility and concept design through construction documents, interiors and move-in. It is important to us that our own firm offers that same level of service. It helps us maintain our design standards and allows us to remain involved from start to finish.
DHM: What are the benefits of working with a boutique firm, from a client’s perspective?
TCA: For us, as a newer firm we bring a lot of energy and spirit to our projects, and it's important that we're accessible to our clients. We prefer the small scale of our office so that we can both be directly involved day to day in the project work. That provides our clients with a lot of comfort and trust.
We emphasize quality and craftsmanship and create custom designs for each of our clients. Getting the clients involved in our process is critical in our design development; we don’t dust off old drawings and reuse them, rather we take the time to listen to our clients needs and design a home that works for them.
DHM: What are some upcoming projects for Thomson & Cooke Architects?
TCA: We have a broad portfolio of work on the boards both geographically, from Capitol Hill to Arlington to Chevy Chase, and project type, from interior renovations to new homes and to historic condo conversions. The mix is what excites us and keeps us on our toes. A few projects on the boards include a new house under design with an incredible team in the Palisades neighborhood of DC and a historic restoration in Chevy Chase, MD.
DHM: What are some of the fun projects you’ve done since starting the firm?
TCA: We’ve worked with a developer to design three new homes in Arlington that are now under construction. This was new for us. We had never designed on spec before and found the process exciting for different reasons than our client-focused work. In Chevy Chase, MD we designed renovations for three families who are neighbors. It was fun to get to know the families and the proximity made scheduling meetings easy!