We are pleased to welcome Richard (Roo) Collins to the Whitten Architects team! Roo joins us after working as a designer and architect in London for nearly 15 years. As a key member of RFK Architects, he managed high-end interior-focused projects, including luxury apartments, world-renowned museums, and large-scale, high-end retail stores, single-family homes, private residential refurbishments, and historic properties. Prior to joining RFK, he spent 13 years as a carpenter and furniture maker for private clients in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland. We’re excited to add Roo to our team and expect that he will contribute an even greater richness to our design collaboration. We asked Roo to share a little bit about his background.
Q. What inspired your transition from carpentry to design many years ago?
A. During my time as a carpenter and cabinet maker I worked with many different architects with many different styles, both in the U.S. and the U.K. I was intrigued by their many different approaches to design, and their ability to visualize an entire building, one element of which was the cabinetry I was making. I had always thought it was a profession I would like to pursue, even from a young age, and spending time with architects reignited that desire.
Q. What do you love most about architecture?
A. On a personal level, seeing a building or part of building that I have designed being occupied and inhabited makes me very happy. There is a satisfaction in turning an idea or sketch into something real that hopefully enhances someone’s life.
Q. How is architecture in Maine different from architecture where you were practicing in and around London?
A. The real difference I can see between practicing architecture in London and in Maine is the landscape. In Maine you have an opportunity to engage with the site and its surroundings, deciding on an optimum location and orientation, whereas architecture in London can be like fitting a small piece into a much larger puzzle. Both conditions have their joys, as well as their challenges!
Q. What has it been liking renovating your own historic home in Freeport?
A. We bought the house in 2014 with the idea of carrying out a few minor renovations, but as the projects progressed we unlocked many more than we anticipated! The house is a 1792 Georgian house with a barn and an ell connecting the two. The main architectural work was to remove a series of walls downstairs in the main house to create an open-plan kitchen and dining space and form a connection from the front of the house to the back. The back of the house is south-facing so by removing these walls the light now reaches the entire downstairs. Once we have completed work in the main house we will focus our attention to the barn and the ell, which are currently used for storage and a makeshift workshop. The plan is to turn these into additional accommodations that can be used by family.
Q. What has you most excited about working with Whitten Architects?
A. I have been following Whitten Architects since we first started coming to Maine in 2014, and I have always admired the firm’s work, so I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to get to work here. I have always enjoyed the challenges and satisfaction that come with working on residential projects, so to join a firm where that is the focus is very exciting.