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In my own words, Chris Lepine


During my time at university, I had very diverse interests and found it difficult to decide on a major. I eventually graduated with a degree in Finance, which often raises eyebrows amongst colleagues and friends who quickly remark “so how did you end up in architecture?!”

As a child, I was absorbed by the making of “things”. Making something out of whatever I could get my hands on was a favourite past time.  So, the gravity I felt towards a profession where making something physical is the ultimate goal drew me inexorably to architecture.  The idea of being an architect was always latent, until, like a spark, I knew that was the career for me to pursue.  It is a profession that stimulates nearly every interest and challenges all imaginable abilities. It’s quite unique in that way.

So, I started my career in Atlanta, GA, but soon moved to London when I was offered a position at Foster and Partners.  I have always believed that London is the nexus for architecture and related professions, with an inspiring concentration of great firms and talent.  I was doubly fortunate to reside in London while working at Foster and Partners where I was exposed to the highest architectural standards.

As is with any aspiring professional, I soon felt ready to take on a new challenge. I was always attracted to Zaha Hadid’s work.  The architecture is alluring, filled with energy and ambition.  When I was offered a position to lead a tower project for Hadid in Dubai, the Signature Towers – an intertwined trio of office, residential, and hotel towers, the timing and the opportunity were perfect.

I worked equally with Hadid and Patrik Schumacher on a number of designs during my time, and it was always a team effort. Hadid was a tremendous character and she attracted those with an intense interest in design and a passion for testing design possibilities.  Her guidance and lessons were broader than individual mentorship.  She instilled a way of thinking, a mind-set and an attitude where you felt empowered to design beyond current possibilities.

Working on One Thousand Museum Residences was a challenge and an experience I’ll never forget. We made extensive use of an accurate, geometrically precise 3D model to maintain a high degree of control over the design and coordination.  It was used for all aspects of design and further detail development.

We developed and used the model to visualize the building form and interior spaces, to generate the drawing packages, and to check for clashes between architecture, structure and mechanical systems.  We also shared the model with some very sophisticated consultants and fabricators to conduct structural analysis and to produce the panels that enclose the entire exoskeleton.

The exoskeleton is a world first – a true synthesis of architecture, structure, and fabrication.  It is a “pure” system that expresses this synthesis.

Typically, structure, external cladding, and internal finishes are three completely isolated and separately applied systems.  A structure is erected, then it has cladding attached to it, and finally, an internal finish is applied.

With One Thousand Museum Residences, however, internal and external finishes are not simply applied, they are part of the system – the permanent formwork – used to erect the structure.  Structure, internal and external finish are all integrated and completed together as a result of the system.

The spirit of innovation at ZHA is always a driving force in our designs.  As a result, the One Thousand Museum tower is visually and physically pioneering, yet it is structurally efficient and perfectly suited to fulfil its programmatic requirements.  The tower features deep balconies, broad vistas, generous amenities, and parking levels all configured and expressed in an unexpected way and to create one synthesized design.

Working on One Thousand Museum utilised such an array of different techniques and it’s hard not to be inspired, when the project itself is something very special. The One Thousand Museum tower has recently obtained its temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) indicating the building is now ready for occupancy and closings can commence immediately – so it is quite fulfilling to know people will soon be building their lives within a tower, where myself and the team dedicated so much time and effort to see built.

Talking of homes, I often say that an architect’s house is never finished, moreover from working on such stimulating projects – it’s hard not to want to reimagine your house. So I’ve just ‘finished’ a complete refurbishment and extension of my London home.

What was once a typical Victorian Terrace House on the inside and out, now maintains its traditional exterior and is juxtaposed by a very modern open and brightly day-lit interior.

Living in a conservation area means external modifications are extremely limited. Additionally, the original property posed many challenges. Extremely small spaces, awkward circulations, dampness and low internal daylight levels.

I was determined to confront these challenges and transform this house into a modern family dwelling – one my family, friends and colleagues would be proud of and could enjoy!

From a design front, we fully integrated structural steel to achieve the goal of uninterrupted surfaces and continuous spaces. This was the basis to ensuring generous daylight, unencumbered spatial flow, and a marked contrast between the original Victorian features adjacent to the modern design which now characterises our home.

In my career thus far I have worked on such a broad range of projects at differing scales. Each building type and each scale of project brings with it new challenges and experiences.  It is always thrilling to explore a new building type or building sector.

I would say working on wineries are one of my favourite challenges.  I was fortunate to have done a winery in Spain.  I see a winery as an agro-industrial building which has to blend the extremes of being highly functional, yet cultural and artistic.  It is an architecture integrated into the landscape with the purpose of crafting something rich from the earth’s harvest.

I guess that’s a similar challenge to designing a home.

Providing an attractive, functional space, yet reaching beyond to create an environment full of interest, passion and enjoyment – a haven where a family can flourish.

One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid is a limited collection of museum-quality homes which offers an unprecedented level of service and amenities, available exclusively through ONE Sotheby’s International Realty https://www.sothebysrealty.com/eng/sales/detail/180-l-982-cqvyqr/1000-biscayne-blvd-3702-miami-fl-33132

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