Based in Garrison, New York, Hudson Design was founded by James Mason Copeland in 1986 and is one of the top-rated architectural design companies in New York. They were selected by Houzz for best in service for five years running from 2014-2018 and best in design in 2020.
But what is it that makes Hudson Design so good at what they do? For that, let’s take a look at what James Copeland himself has to say.
Inspiration and Creative Process
When asked about his inspiration, James says he looks at the world in terms of solving problems through the use of space. Even at a young age, he learned to view the world as a space to be organized to meet the needs of those who lived in it. He recounts stories of his childhood where he would be fascinated with the interior design of his parents’ car, or how climbing a tree would be so compelling because he’d want to learn about the tree’s structure. His sandbox was a place to build small civilizations.
James considers himself an artist, though architecture by nature requires a much more structured process than most art forms. It’s not no good for a building to look great if it will fall over in a light breeze, and it can’t look good if it doesn’t fit in with the environment around it. Before even planning a project, local building codes need to be considered, and the values of the neighborhood need to be properly assessed. It places a lot of restrictions on what the architect can do with the building.
Like Stephen Spielberg learned on the set of Jaws, a good artist turns limitations into strengths. The creative process of an architect is about working in those limitations to meet the needs of the client, while also creating something that satisfies people on an aesthetic level. It’s all about knowing how to make the best use of space and understanding the client’s needs and wants.
Style and Innovation
To be innovative in the field of architecture, one has to accept it as a collaborative effort. According to James, a good architect doesn’t have the luxury of favoring style. You have to respond to the culture and environment you’re building in if you want your designs to be appreciated. Architecture that doesn’t match the style of its environment and neighboring buildings will be an eyesore, even if it might look fantastic elsewhere. Innovation therefore comes from getting to know the client. Every client is unique and you find your innovation by working those unique interests into the building. Shared cultural influences and the basics of physics means architecture of a given area will have many obvious similarities. To make your work innovative, you have to work the unique aspects of the client’s interests into the small details that make a house into a real home. There’s nothing more enjoyable than finding the right blend of influence and individuality to make the perfect structure.
See The World
If there’s one piece of advice that James Copeland would give to future architects, it’s to travel. Don’t just travel to see great buildings, though; that’s how a tourist looks at the world. Travel to see great landscapes, natural settings, and basic human endeavors as well. Look past the big, showy destinations every country has to see the everyday places that people actually live in. It’s there that you can really see what it is that makes architecture so enjoyable. Observe the natural beauty of the world and its unspoiled places, not passively, but to contemplate the space and how the space might be best used to meet people’s needs without ruining that natural beauty. Never forget to bring a sketchbook and camera wherever you go. You never know when you’ll see something that inspires you.
The best works of architecture don’t dominate the landscape, they fit into it. Rather than seem like an intruder, they should feel like they belong. As James himself says, “great architecture is quiet and intimate, as well as grand in scale.”