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Choosing the Right Architecture Firm

By Ken Etten

Tellus a little bit about your company and its foundation.

McCormack + Etten / Architects LLP was established in 1992 by Ron McCormack and Ken Etten in Lake Geneva and is an eight-person office including three licensed architects, CAD associates and support staff. We specialize in high-end custom homes, residential addition / remodeling work and a mix of commercial / retail / office projects with an emphasis is on style and substance. We design in a variety of styles including contemporary, traditional, Arts & Crafts and Prairie Style and Shingle Style. While the majority of our work is in southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois, we've also done projects in California, Texas, Colorado and even the Virgin Islands.

In your opinion, what are three qualities that every architect should possess?

An architect needs to be a good listener, should be able to "think outside the box" and conceptualize creatively, and have a solid understanding of construction methods and costs.

As an architect, how do you make sure you understand what your client wants?

By asking questions and determining a client's likes and dislikes as early in the design process as possible. We often tell clients to note projects on our website that they like, to visit sites such as "Houzz" to give us a sense of their preferences and tastes, and to write down a list of their goals and objectives for their project.

What are at least three questions every homeowner should ask their architect before hiring them?

Ask the architect for a list of previous similar projects and client references, make sure the architect has a clear understanding of the client's program requirements and budget, and establish the services required and offered by the architect including phases of services and costs, whether hourly, percentage or flat fee.

What is your philosophy behind creating dynamic, yet practical homes for your clients?

With almost eighty years of architectural experience between them, Ken Etten and Ron McCormack have established a reputation for quality design combined with creativity and designing within a budget. We typically design a project "from the inside out" by first developing a functional and efficient floor plan and then concentrating on the exterior design. Exterior finish materials and design elements can be altered but a home or office must first work for the function for which it was intended.

What are a few minor building renovations that can really improve the appearance of my home?

The simplest ways to improve the appearance of your home are to look at options for exterior colors (including siding, trim and accents such as doors and windows), changing the siding or including materials such as stone, adding trim and details like shutters, brackets and decorative light fixtures, and upgrading landscaping and walks, driveways and patio areas.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

The easiest way to contact Ken Etten at McCormack + Etten / Architects LLP is to call me at (262) 248-8391 ext. 12 or e-mail me at ken@mccormacketten.com. You can also stop by our office, McCormack + Etten / Architects LLP, 400 Broad Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147.

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