William Carpenter, FAIA, PhD, LEED AP
Founder, President, Lightroom, Inc., Atlanta, GA
Sometimes more is just more, and less is really what’s needed. That’s the theme of a session to be led by Bill Carpenter during the 2014 AIA Tennessee Convention & Expo this weekend, July 30-August 1, in Nashville.
Minimalism is one characteristic of the work done by his studio, Lightroom, Inc., in Atlanta. “The idea of restraint, trying not to do too much, is a hallmark for us. Less is fine, you don’t have to do too much,” he said, adding the simplicity is melded with warmth through the purposeful involvement of clients in both design and construction. “You really see them come through – the work is specific to that site and that client.”
Projects illustrating that signature combination will be highlighted during the session, including a project in Sao Luis, Brazil, a cliff-side home overlooking the ocean that is one of Carpenter’s recent favorites. “It’s a real show-stopper,” he said. “It’s a sustainable house with a concrete frame, done for a professional kite surfer.” Carpenter will discuss minimalism and modernism in the South, as well as his studio’s unique blend of architecture with other creative pursuits, including book, website, branding and graphic design, along with film and video work.
A well-rounded creative – Carpenter plays bass and piano, paints and draws, and is a photographer and filmmaker – he makes it a point to experience art and landscape in his travels. “When I go to New York I go to the Guggenheim – I feel at home there, it’s an inspiring place. In London I visit the Tate Modern, a beautiful museum on the Thames. I’m also really interested in the vernacular so I love going out in the countryside; I especially love seeing chimneys where the house has burned away, and just the chimney has been standing there for over 100 years.”
Urban Design Outreach
Back home in Atlanta, when he’s not helming Lightroom projects Carpenter is a professor in the School of Architecture at Southern Polytechnic University, teaching thesis in the Urban Design Build Studio. He leads the students in community outreach projects in some of the city’s underprivileged neighborhoods, working with those communities to rebuild crumbling city blocks. “It’s intensive in terms of community involvement but I can tell you it’s made a huge impact on the students – they’ve been able to listen and then work right alongside community members,” he said. “A lot of architects never get the chance to build themselves, and this gives them the chance to both design and build what they have conceived.”
Carpenter recalls his own student days on Long Island, NY – it was a 7th grade drafting teacher who encouraged him in architecture, and then famed artist and designer Richard Meier suggested he pursue it during a high school career day. From there he earned his undergraduate degree in architecture at Mississippi State University, his master’s from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and his PhD from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in Birmingham, UK.
A Southerner by choice, he sees a lot of potential for architecture in the region … and believes a bit of collaboration would help it along. “We need to be communicating more in this region, in Georgia and Tennessee and the Carolinas. There’s so much we share in terms of climate and materials,” he said. “But too often our architects exist in silos — you don’t have Georgia going to Tennessee’s convention, but we go and get our CEUs and see people from Northern states. I would challenge them (AIA Tennessee members): Why don’t we do this more in a collaborative fashion in the South?”
Connect with Bill Carpenter and Lightroom
Both Carpenter and Lightroom are active in social media, finding real value in those platforms. “Increasingly, people are more cultivated about the design process and want to know how we design and about the behind-the-scenes aspect of a project, so that’s what we use that for,” he said. Lightroom also uses social media to engage Atlanta’s arts community, as well as promote an international/U.S. design collaboration called Modern Atlanta. Check them out at: