Firm Profile: Howard McNenny, AIA
I began my practice in 2009, with a focus on residential design, including remodels and second story additions. I drew upon experience I gained as an architect in corporate practice and as a developer of properties I personally owned. Many of my projects are in Albany, where my office is located, but I also work in many of the surrounding areas of the East Bay. A typical project might be a small 1920s or 1930s home in which the owners wish to add a new master suite and a family room, and improved access to the backyard. Many are growing families who love their neighborhood and the community, but just need more space. I also have done a number of kitchen remodels, and lately have seen a demand for accessory dwellings units.
As a sole proprietorship, I enjoy giving personal service to these families. I help navigate the regulatory maze of the community where the project is located, and design something that makes economic sense and will give my clients years of enjoyment. Given today’s real estate economy, I emphasize return on investment, realizing that it is always best to consider the re-sale value of any improvement in the overall economic equation. My design philosophy is heavy on contextualism and respect for the character of the existing house and neighborhood, while always willing to consider the preferences of my clients.
I do all my work on the Vectorworks 3-D drafting program, which I have found to be a very powerful tool for visualizing the volumes of the project during the conceptual design phase, and also as a basis for creating the technical drawings. While I have occasionally employed drafting assistance, I have found that I have the most control and actually derive the most satisfaction from doing an entire job from A to Z. This idea extends to a preference to also do my own structural design—as long as the project is not overly complex. (I do employ a consultant for the energy analysis, however.)
In private life, my wife Dianne and I enjoy travel, involvement in Albany civic life and spending as much time as possible with our two daughters and three grand-daughters, all of whom live in Southern California.