Recently, Dreyfuss + Blackford gathered together to celebrate the end of 2019 and our organization’s future along with another very important moment, welcoming Chris Holt as our newest Associate in the firm. To be honest, we had a bit of fun at his expense, but Chris has always been a great sport and thus is a critically important contributor to our culture. To know Chris is to understand his unique capacity as a leader and collaborator and his perspective on life adds a dimension to D+B that is truly appreciated. To give you a better understanding of all of this, our very own Brian Lefholz and Stephanie Swain spent some time with Chris and offer up the following insights.
– Kris Barkley
The first thing you should know about Chris is when you ask him a question and you think you know what he is going to say, think again. It’s one surprise after another with him. Just like the transformers he played with as a kid, there is always more to Chris than meets the eye. His fondness for using trace paper may concern us at times, but one thing for sure is, we know when working with him he will have that sketch from the very first meeting about that “one” detail throughout the life of the project. He is a renaissance man at heart with his sketch book and paints in tow; never missing a chance to capture a moment should it present itself.
To give you a better understanding of all of this, myself and fellow Associate, Brian Lefholz spent a few hours with Chris sharing a beer at a local brewery to celebrate his recent promotion to Associate at D+B as well as his recent installation as the AIA Central Valley Chapter President. In between sips, Brian and I bombarded him with questions while Chris offered up the following insights.
What influences in your life led you to architecture?
When Chris was young, he wanted to be an artist. Around the age of 12 his grandfather told him to go ahead and make art his career if he never wanted to make any money and and die, penniless, alone, and at the bottom of a bottle. Always one to find the positive in any situation, Chris chose architecture, where he could utilize his artistic abilities but make a few bucks along the way. Thankfully, Chris never gave up his dream of becoming an artist. He continues to paint and sketch every day. Yes, literally every day.
What is your favorite city to visit and why?
It sounds a bit cliché, but Chris really enjoyed visiting Paris. Baguettes, fine wine, cheese, the Eifel Tower, and Chris is a happy Monsieur. What you don’t know is that he started this response off with a 10-minute discussion on how hard this question was to answer because of all the cities he is yet to visit; Austin, Texas being one of them.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
We were surprised as we thought Chris would have answered St. Louis, Missouri, so that he could be close to his favorite brewery, but Australia was the answer. Apparently the idea of having Christmas in the middle of summer sounds like a fantastic idea to Chris.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Chris said he wished he would have stayed in school. When you are 18 money is king, but when you are 40 with some 20/20 hindsight, it’s a lot easier to learn design when your day consists of studying at Starbucks and eating dry cereal while you’re at your parents waiting for your laundry to finish. Chris did not attend a traditional architecture school and worked his is way through apprenticeship which has given him the unique set of skills he delivers as a well-rounded Project Architect.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Chris is a refreshingly down to earth soul. His favorite meal is not is not a from a famous steak house or coastal seafood mecca, it is simply a home cooked meal made by his Mom. Once a year on his birthday she makes him his favorite – chicken and dumplings. Ironically, that is also his nickname.
Who is your celebrity doppelganger?
Chris insists that in high school he was a dead ringer for Leonardo DiCaprio; think The Beach. We don’t believe him even though he swears a picture exists to prove it. Of course, no one has ever seen said picture to confirm or deny this statement. Fast forward 20 years and we are 100% certain that he does indeed have an uncanny resemblance to Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation (Nick Offerman); only thing is Ron is much funnier.
What is your proudest moment in Architecture?
Chris has been entrenched in the profession of architecture for more than 20 years. He has played many roles on major projects in many cities and takes great pride in mentoring young emerging professionals embarking on their careers in architecture. But his answer to this question came without any hesitation. His proudest moment came recently during a job site tour. Chris brought his parents to see The Powerhouse Science Center. Chris’s parents were finally able to see some of the amazing work their son has done. To say they were blown away would be an understatement; both Brian and I completely know how they feel.