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March 15, 2020

Q+A With Will Fellis


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Architect Will Fellis has been on the Whitten team since 2012, designing high-end homes along the coast of Maine for several years. The son of a builder, Will has a history of making and building in many forms. A native Mainer, Will’s design influences come from his world travels—first in high school as a student ambassador to Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France and then later in college, when he studied abroad in Florence. He is a member of the Portland Society for Architecture and outside of the office, Will enjoys furniture design, woodworking, graphic design, and camping and hiking. Below, he shares more about his design influences and architectural philosophies.

Q. How has growing up in Maine informed your aesthetic?

A. Growing up in Maine as the son of a builder I was always interested in making anything—from Legos and woodworking, to landscapes and houses. I think a common thread for me has always been simplicity. Not taking the easy way though. I feel Mainers have an appreciation for elegant simplicity, a form-follows-function sort of mentality.

Q. How did having a father as a builder and working with builders influence your decision to become an architect?

A. My dad mostly built houses, so I have always been interested in homes. Architecture appealed to my artistic side and provided an opportunity for me to explore my interests around placemaking, gathering, and Home with a capital “H.”

Q. What was your time as a student ambassador like?

A. In high school, I got to travel to Europe as a representative of Maine and my school. I explored all over Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and France. After that trip, I was certain I wanted to become an architect. Each city and village had its own architectural language and influences. That stoked my fascination with architecture and the way it shapes our experiences and culture.

Q. What resonates with you about the Whitten Architects approach?

A. At Whitten Architects we have a broad range of projects, as broad as the range of people we work with and sites they love. We design site-specific and, even deeper, people-specific houses. That’s what resonates with me. It’s been exciting for me to work on everything from the renovation of a 200-year-old chandlery to the design of contemporary, glassy open-living homes. Each house is a home for the specific people we designed it for.

Q. What would you consider one of your personal architectural philosophies to be? How does this translate into your work?

A. This goes back to simplicity and honesty. Removing any extra layers lets the architecture speak for itself. Simple is not easy, often it is the harder option to pull off successfully.

Q. What would a dream project be?

A. I would love to work on a small compound of structures, like a small camp setting, where every interface between the occupants and the building is fully detailed, customized to fit their needs and the site. Everything from site orientation to handrail and stair nosing details. I also dream about someday being able to make a client their dining table custom for their home. I think the dining table plays a huge role in home in our society. It is our modern-day hearth where the family gathers.


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