Taking Shape

Chris Marshall of Christopher D. Marshall Architect, LLC shares his ample architectural experience to help lay the groundwork for your STL project.

Edited by Moe Godat

Portrait Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Getting Personal: My architecture style incorporates traditional and modern design, always with the clients’ needs and desires in mind. I like to provide my clients with clear, well-thought-out plans, with attention to the big picture as well as the details. My style fits the project, taking on many different shapes and forms; I think that’s what defines good design.

Get with the Program: It’s most important to understand the client’s program and vision for the completed site and structure, and to help them understand that design isn’t a linear process; it can take many twists and turns until you come up with the perfect solution. Good design takes time, patience and a fun collaborative spirit with the client!

Trending Up: Covered outdoor spaces that connect the kitchen and family room to the backyard garden and allow space for dining al fresco or sitting by the fire are a huge trend. Infrared space heaters and/or ventless gas fireplaces allow the space to be used almost year-round. I love this trend, as who doesn’t like to sit on their porch with a guitar and beverage of your choice in hand and watch the world go by!

Knowing the Bottom Line: The most challenging part is to work with the client to set the budget correctly in the beginning of the project and then to stay on that budget line as the project develops. With material and labor prices changing weekly, it’s a real challenge.

Reaping the Reward: The most rewarding part is to see your final design ideas rise from the ground and to remember back on all the sketches, various design iterations and late night ah-ha moments that took place before you settled on that final design.

Totally Transformed: I’ve enjoyed every project, but my favorite would be a residence at Maryland and Jackson Avenues in Clayton. It was a total house transformation with kitchen, family room, mud room, main suite and rear porch addition, plus a new 2-car detached garage with studio above. Every room in the house was altered in some way. It was a challenge to tie all those various parts together to create a unified building and site, but it turned out great. I knew I had created something special when it was framed up and numerous people driving down Jackson would do a double take and practically slam on the brakes to take a look.

Home-Grown Professional: Not many architects in the U.S. have to design for the temperature extremes we have to deal with! I also think the architectural history of St. Louis makes it unique as there are so many beautiful buildings here, especially in the central area. When I started my practice I wanted to design buildings that would be worthy of admiration 100 years from now, just as I admire all the beautiful old St. Louis buildings here. Many places in the U.S. don’t have that type of history.    See stlouishomesmag.com for resources.