The Builder’s Journal Of Oakland/Macomb
Architecture on the Edge
Since establishing their firm in 1990, Kevin Akey and Frank Zychowski, AIA, have inspired many residential and commercial clients to transform their architectural dreams into reality. Each design embraces a synergy of the client’s needs and desires, and AZD’s hallmark approach to cutting edge architecture. The homes, multi-family communities, and commercial structures created by this innovative team transcends the confines of “Traditional” or “Contemporary” labels, revealing architecture guided by freedom of imagination and dedication to function.
“Our designs tend to be a bit edgier than traditional mainstream architecture,” states Frank Zychowski. “While we are very detail oriented regardless of the particular design style, we tend to work with clients that understand we try taking a free-spirited approach to creating a home or commercial project. We believe in taking the handcuffs off of traditional restraints that tend to limit architecture and design.”
Frank Zychowski and Kevin Akey founded AZD Associates nearly fifteen years ago after each had earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University and gained five years experience working for an architectural firm in Birmingham. Their mission was to bring their youthful vitality and enthusiasm into the residential design marketplace, and clients quickly took notice.
“We offer personal attention, creativity, and we work effectively with the builder and client during the construction of the project to ensure the details of the design are brought to reality,” notes Kevin Akey. “We are still much younger than most of our competitors, and I think many of our clients like the energy that brings to the project. We have maintained personal relationships with most of the clients we have worked with over the years. Whether their budget is $100.000 or $3 million, we work very hard to create the best product for their lifestyle.”
While the firm initially focused on new single-family residential homes and renovations, the scope of their services has evolved over the years to include office and retail projects, multi-family communities, and mixed use projects that combine retail or office facilities as a component of a residential community. AZD is currently designing three residential loft projects in Royal Oak, and multi-use projects in Southfield and Traverse City. Their expanding reputation has also earned the firm work outside of Michigan, and a recent residential renovation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was featured on the HGTV television program “Before & After.”
Frank states, “Most clients come to us because they have seen our work, or they know someone we have worked someone with. Designing someone’s home or office is a very personal process, so a mutual level of comfort and trust is essential. Most people feel safe building something similar to their neighbors home, following a routine architectural approach. Our clients have to be willing to put their trust in our design ability even though they may not visualize the outcome before the project is built. We sit down with a client and focus on what their particular lifestyle is about, how they will be using their home, and create a unique design that is their vehicle for living.”
Kevin adds, “We believe our clients retain our services because they are expecting a creative and personalized design. We have ten highly talented individuals on our staff to assist in the evolution of our designs. Our contracts also typically include site observation, so we stayed involved with the client and builder as the project proceeds through construction. It’s an approach that allows us to act as an agent of the homeowner and verify that the design concepts are implemented during construction.”
Communication and interaction with the client throughout the design and construction process are essential to the extraordinary architecture created by AZD. During construction, factors such as budget constraints, attempts to streamline the fabrication of the design, or on-site modifications can seriously compromise the integrity of the design concepts that were painstakingly developed with the client during the initial phases of design. The AZD team assists the owner while often acting as an intermediary, interpreting the details and intricacies of design as it unfolds on the building site.
Frank states, “We pay close attention to proportion, as that is a primary guideline in the preliminary designs on the our architecture. Whether a project is contemporary or traditional, when someone views a building that is well proportioned it is most often recognizable as good design. Once the masses are properly proportioned, the use of texture, color and materials bring life to the concept as a whole. These abstract concepts must be maintained as the project becomes reality through the construction process.”
Typically I will space plan first,” adds Kevin, “making sure the room sizes and spaces function as the client has requested. Then I check those elements with the exterior proportions and adjust as necessary. It is an artistic, evolving process between the interior and exterior components. It is vital to the final presentation that the design features are accurately translated as the design progresses off paper to the three dimensional product on the site.”
As AZD Associates continues to evolve in the marketplace the organization holds steadfast to their dedication to providing clients with innovative, personalized design poised at the edge of architectural creativity and vision. There are no immediate plans to expand the size of their firm, both Kevin and Frank believing that the firm’s current size combines the advantages of a knowledgeable, skilled team with the personal attentiveness that a cohesive, small company can provide.
Frank states, “From a creative standpoint, we are always looking to expand our horizons and take on new challenges, particularly in the commercial segment of our business. We believe our clientele selects AZD based on a combination of our portfolio, our ability to work with them and our high level of personal involvement in each project. It is still very exciting for everyone in our organization when someone selects our firm for their project; it is a confirmation of our talents, abilities and the product we deliver. That’s what keeps us going.”
Kevin adds, “We have always controlled the growth of our firm because we feel the connection we maintain with each client and project is critical to their success. This is a great job! Working with so many unique individuals, families or business people and being able to create distinctive projects in something everyone in our organization appreciates. The ability to express ourselves through a creative medium like architecture is like sculpting in a building environment. It can be challenging at times, but it is always exciting.”
The Builder’s Journal is proud to present AZD Associates, Inc. as our spotlight in this month’s issue. For further information, call (248) 540-6009 or visit their website at www.azdarch.com.