Cathy Schwabe, Architect
"The emotional power of a space, inherent in all built form, is something I experienced profoundly early in my architectural education while visiting two early-1970s buildings on the Phillips Exeter campus in Massachusetts. One building made me feel insignificant and increasingly angry and alienated as I walked through it; the other – just as tangibly – inspired a strong feeling of centeredness and balance. At the end of that day, I thought, "This is what I want to do" – create buildings that move people emotionally, that elicit and inspire a sense of well-being, serenity, and wholeness."
In 25 years of practice, I have worked in both small and large firms and have designed single-family residences, libraries, museums, aquaria, classrooms, and student and multi-family housing. I had the good fortune to work with Joe Esherick (EHDD Architecture) for many years at the end of his career, and that experience influenced me to begin my own practice in 2001 and to focus exclusively on residential design.
The design of a house, or part of a house, in a solo practice, allows me to be what I think of as a specialized generalist; "specialized" in that I enjoy a focused attention on one type of building, and "generalist" because the scale of a house allows me to do all phases of a project, from inception through move-in. Architecture, even in a solo practice, is always a group effort, and in addition to the builder and, of course, the client, I work with a team of consultants – so my role increasingly includes considerable coordination in addition to architectural design, detailing, and construction administration.