Profile of Dallas Architect

Kelly D. Mitchell
by Robert Diago.

As I gather my thoughts for this interview,
I get the official call:Green Labron
is a United States Green Building Council
(USGBC) LEED Platinum Home. I head
out to meet its architect Kelly Mitchell,
at Nonna, knowing now I couldn't
start with just any question.

We say our hello's, pour some wine,
and I extend congratulations.
We toast: "To Platinum!"
RMD: Dallas' fourth LEED Platinum home! Beyond the guidelines, what does it
take to achieve that?

KM: Well the guidelines are a big part of it - everything ties back to the point
system. But I know what you're asking. It takes commitment. I believe whole-
heartedly in an architect's participation in all aspects of a project, from
programming, through design, and throughout construction. It takes
partnership and communication. It takes 100% on the part of everyone
involved. The client, the contractor and the architect must be equally
persistent in the pursuit of certification.
RMD: Why do you think green building is important?

KM: That’s hard to answer without sounding preachy. It’s the right thing to do. Our planet
cannot sustain our current behavior. We’ve got to be stewards. I have believed this for a
long time, and I’m thrilled that the architectural community is climbing on board.

RMD: Obviously it’s great to have clients with those same values. How else would you
describe your ideal client?

KM: For me architecture is the perfect marriage between the client’s wishes and the
architect’s vision. The ideal clients have an idea of what they want, but don’t try to
control. They make quick decisions, are open minded and adventurous.
RMD: Which architects’ vision influences
your work?

KM: This is more inspiration than influence
- Renzo Piano. He has a light touch and
manages to never repeat himself. I also
admire Marlon Blackwell and Rand
Elliott. They are working in Arkansas and
Oklahoma respectively and getting
wonderful thought-provoking projects
built.

Kelly and I, talk for a while about Dallas,
the influence of contemporary design
and the exciting arts district projects:
Winspear Opera House, Wylie Theater,
Arts Magnet campus, and Woodall
Rodgers Deck Park… “It’s a good time for
architecture in Dallas.”
We discuss her recent inclusion on the
2009 American Institute of Architects
(AIA) Tour of Homes and the great press
Green Labron received. This marked
the second time in three years that
one of her projects was selected. But
rather than focus  on what an honor
that is, she’s impressed by the fact that
so many everyday (non-industry)
people who toured the home, are
interested in contemporary and
sustainable design.

The restaurant’s chef/owner Julian
Barsotti stops by to say hello. He knows
Kelly well and is familiar with her work.
After all, Kelly designed the interiors of
this 2008  D Magazine Best New
Restaurant. I busy myself while they
talk shop. But I can still hear, and it’s
obvious that he is a genuine fan – and
friend. As he leaves I find my place
and put us back on track.
RMD: Do you collect anything?

KM: I used to: green pottery, Bakelite, mid-century modern furniture. But I live in
a small space and realize I don’t need more things. Now I enjoy those existing collections
and try to collect art, especially art made by friends.

RMD: My last question, total cliché: dinner party, your house, four people,
dead or alive. Go!

KM: Architect, teacher and social motivator Samuel Mockbee, musician Yo-Yo Ma, artist
Louise Nevelson, and American aviation pioneer and author Amelia Earhart.
Kelly D. Mitchell, AIA, LEED AP
Homes, is a licensed architect,
and the principal of mitchell |
garman architects where she
often collaborates with husband
Sean K. Garman AIA, LEED AP     
Learn more at
mitchellgarman.com

Robert Mateo Diago is an artist,
designer, writer and all-around creative
type.
rmateodiago.com

Photo Credits:
Green Labron Residence
Charles Davis Smith, AIA
Klein Residence
Craig D. Blackmon, FAIA
Nonna Restaurant
Allison V. Smith
Herschel Residence
Patrick Morey, Mark McWilliams
RMD: Describe your design sense?

KM: Simple, functional and warm. It’s that straight forward. I don’t like things that look
forced.

RMD: If you weren’t an architect, what would you be?

KM: I’ve thought of this question – especially in this economy – but I’ve yet to come up
with something.
RMD: Cool. Now for moderndallas' signature question. What's your favorite
sandwich?

KM: (Laughs.) Strange question. Lately, I've been into making my own fried egg
sandwiches on english muffins. : )

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