Where Not To Go

An architect acquaintance in Ireland recently returned from a family vacation in Florida. They spent three weeks between Orlando and Clearwater and even experienced a Space-X launch – an opportunity that isn’t available in Ireland and made a number of his friends envious.

Being a fellow architect, he asked for recommendations about where to visit in the States on their next visit. And I thought I was helpful. Right up to that moment my husband mentioned I recommended a couple of places where you might not want to go with small children.


As a gay man and an architect, I take both into consideration when visiting a new place. Naturally. But I guess I should step back and think about what really has interested me about each locale.

For example, to me (and James), New Orleans is a great place to visit. Between the French Quarter, the Marigny, and the Garden District, the architecture experience is incredible. Not to mention the history of the city, the art galleries, and the restaurants. Plus you can always step outside of NOLA and take a few of the plantation tours.

What’s not to love?

I believe that would be Bourbon Street.

While we have grown accustomed to NOLA and whatever might be happening on Bourbon Street, every year we are shocked to see the same thing. Adults with very underaged children casually strolling down Bourbon Street. And not only during the day. Numerous times we’ve seen young couples pushing strollers at 10 pm up to the holy line of demarcation (St. Ann – where the gay part of Bourbon begins), look around for a second, and turn to go back down the street.

Maybe not the best environment to be recommending to people with small children.

Which made me go back and look at my list and consider what might and might not be considered family friendly.

Washington, DC – that seems safe. And who wouldn’t want to see Julia Childs’ kitchen at the Smithsonian? Unless of course there’s a protest rally happening on the Mall.

San Francisco – there’s the Golden Gate Bridge. Ghirardelli. Fisherman’s Wharf. Of course, we stayed up by the Castro. So maybe skip giving them any hotel recommendations.

Las Vegas – the world’s biggest amusement park. As James pointed out, plenty of activities for the kids. Except for the casinos. And the strip shows. And the guys handing out the escort cards on the street.

So maybe I need to put a little more thought into it the next time someone asks me for recommendations on where to visit.

Or maybe It would be easier to just give them a list and tell them:

“Here’s where not to go.”


Architects and Designers: Spot the Difference

Residential Architect or Residential Designer?

A fellow Chamber member was surprised when I told her that Texas does not require an architectural seal for residential projects. (And I say that broadly, as I’m sure some jurisdictions might, depending on the type of project. I know Dallas would be fine if I left my seal off the drawings.) She simply assumed to design houses you needed to be a licensed architect.


I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve seen project drawings from designers, design associates, designs studios, etc. Some good. Some not so good. Some really not so good.

Not to disparage designers. I know several people who despite having an architecture degree simply do not have a license for one reason or another. One person, in particular, was designing very high-end homes in Dallas and California when I was still in high school and could draw circles around some of the best. However, because he never completed his exams, he spent his career unlicensed.

Except after 40 years of practice, I still considered him an architect.

A licensed architect will typically possess a master’s degree in architecture; have completed a multi-year internship; and sat for and passed a series of exams administered by their state architecture board.

To be a residential designer, you simply call yourself that. You can have zero education. Or a degree. Or simply experience in one drafting class and you can hang out your shingle.

For the residential client, one must hope that the designer they hire is cognizant of building codes and various ordinances. That they understand structure and how buildings really go together. Know what an energy review requires. Or just have insurance should something go wrong.

Which means any client must do their homework and not be afraid to ask some basic questions:

  • Where did you graduate from?
  • Are you licensed and what’s your license number? (Any architect should be able to rattle that off in their sleep!)
  • How long have you been working in residential design? (Important to ask because not all architects are comfortable with residential projects. The head of one of the largest commercial practices in Dallas hired a residential architect for his home because he only knew commercial design.)
  • Are you insured?

And if there are any doubts about any of those answers, there’s always Google and the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners.

Because, as I told my fellow Chamber member, anyone can call themselves a residential designer.





A19 Conference Experience

A’19 in Review

There are two things I try to do every year as an architect, professional, and firm owner: 1) speak at an architecture conference; and 2) attend the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) annual conference.

Since 2010, I’ve been a session presenter at conferences in the Midwest, South, and along the East Coast. And since starting my career, I have attended numerous incarnations of the AIA’s Conference on Architecture. Unfortunately, I did not make the 2018 event in New York, which some helpful wag managed to schedule the same week as the Pride celebration in Manhattan.

However, in the last nine years, speaking and attending have occurred exclusive of one another. Until this year.

For the A’19 Conference on Architecture, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ presence in architecture titled The Silent Minority: LGBTQ+ Voices in Architecture.

And like every session before this one, I had the usual moments of panic and doubt:

Will I be able to remember what I’m talking about?

Will anyone attend? (I’ve had attendance as low as 10 people. Surprisingly, that turned out to be on of the better sessions.)

Who will attend? Particularly for this session. Would people be willing to attend and potentially out themselves to their colleagues?

Will the audience participate in the discussion?

And like every session before, the presentation went well.

We had a larger than expected turnout and a more diverse group than anticipated. We made the straight architects stand up and be recognized, and a surprising number did so.

The panelists were well-spoken and engaging as was the audience. I’ve sat in numerous panel discussions where the panelists talked – and no one else got a word in. However, we were able to engage the audience members and take in their perspective on the subject.

And we even received a nice write-up on the AIA’s website: https://www.aia.org/articles/6161023-raising-lgbtq-voices-in-architecture?tools=true

Perhaps this year being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the conference occurring at the start of Pride had some influence on attendance and even acceptance of the program by AIA’s review committee. That’s hard to say. However, no matter the reason, we were able to present the session and have a positive experience.

Would I do it again? Yes. Will I continue to speak if given the opportunity? Yes. Will I continue to attend the national conference? Of course.

And hopefully moving forward, those won’t continue to be separate experiences.


The Big Gay Architect feat Alex Remington

What good is a newly renovated space without great photography to show it off? If you get a new kitchen and nobody’s around to see it, did you really get a new kitchen? In this episode host, Larry Paschall is joined by Alex Remington to discuss home photography, becoming comfortable with the unfamiliar, and their experiences in the industry over time.

 “Art is a wonderful vehicle for bringing people together through conversation, sharing, and hence connecting. Humanity is about being connected” says Remington. 

 After 15 years of passionately creating images as an amateur, Remington formally began his career as a fine art photographer in 2006. In 2009 he won Best New Artist in the Dallas Observer. In 2012 he won Best Fine Art Photography in Dallas/Ft. Worth by Fashion Group International, a global organization founded in the 1920’s by Eleanor Roosevelt to honor artists and fashion gurus. Remington’s work is part of One Arts Plaza’s art collection, and on three occasions Neiman Marcus has hosted Remington as their featured artist. In 2012, Two x Two, one of the nation’s largest art-related charities, accepted Remington into its stable of artists. 

Humanity is his biggest passion. Humanitarian portraiture is an important part of his work. Design Within Reach hosted a show of Remington’s images on homelessness and its social impact in 2009. The premise of the show was to reveal that human beings tend to value things more than each other in a society that honors financial success as a key to happiness.

“Through the eye of Alex’s camera and artistry, we find greater evidence of the often unseen world around us. His mesmerizing images evoke memory, fantasy, and imaginary worlds that dare us to enter in and adore the provocative.” Barry Phillips, 2-time Emmy Award-winning Art Director, CBS, PBS, NBC, HBO, Oliver Stone, Showtime

Born in Boston, MA in 1972, Remington runs his own studio where he meets with art collectors one-one-one. He also owns a real estate development company which designs and builds urban contemporary dwellings. He earned a business degree from Southern Methodist University in 1994.



Missing Island

My kitchen island has gone missing.

Not like actual missing. James and I aren’t frantically putting a picture of it on milk cartons.

However, on any given day, just finding the top of the island can be a bit challenging.

When we were designing our Kitchen, we were very conscious about not just wanting an island but really needing an island. After 10 years with a galley kitchen with minimal counter space, we were looking forward to being able to cook at the same time without stepping all over each other. And, of course, to having room to spread out when Christmas came around and we went into our annual cookie-making frenzy.

But for me, Christmas doesn’t really count when it comes to just locating the island countertop. Or when company is coming and the only thing sitting there is a bowl of fruit. (Who are we fooling?)

Most days you’re likely to find a small stack of magazines. Some mail. Maybe a vegetable or two still in the bag. And multiple candles for some reason. And I shouldn’t be too surprised that the island has become the catchall. Everything used to wind up on the dining room table.

We do have a couple of placemats at the end of the island where the barstools are. Because like all my clients, we’re going to sit there and eat. Except I can’t say we ever have. I’ve used the island for work. It’s a perfect place for rolling out drawings. Or to wrap presents. You know. All the things an island is intended for.

On second thought, maybe I do need a milk carton.


Big Gay Architect Podcast

What good are plans for renovation when you don’t have a home constructed yet? Well – that’s a good question! As you’ll come to find out, construction and renovation go hand in hand. On this week’s episode, Stephan Sardone and Larry Paschall talk first-time industry experiences, construction, and the difference between kitchens and bathrooms!

Stephan Sardone, founder and owner of Sardone Construction, has been in the construction industry for almost two decades. In 2010, he formed Sardone Construction, a design-build firm located in Dallas, Texas where he has built a reputation for efficient designs, high-quality craftsmanship, and great customer service.

He believes that remodeling a home begins with a commitment to customer service before, during and after construction and he strives to exceed customer expectations in every facet of the construction process.

Stephan achieves this by helping clients realize the vision for their home and make wise decisions during all phases of design, development, and construction.

“I’m here to help advise and consult. With a lot of listening, discernment, and asking good questions… we can help our clients focus their thinking and prioritize. what they desire most.”



LISTEN here:


Matthew Collins

Staging is an important part of the design process! What good is renovating a space if you can’t have it decorated and shown off? On this week’s episode, Larry Paschall and special guest Matthew Collins discuss fabulous showrooms, dealing with designers, and much much more on this episode of The Big Gay Architect Podcast!

Matthew Collins is the Showroom Manager for Ann Sacks in Dallas. He’s been working in the interior design business for over 10 years, previously working in stone and cabinetry distribution. He has a Master’s Degree in Luxury Brand Management and undergraduate degrees in Management & Marketing. He enjoys great design and spending time with his cat, Buddy.