Greg Hall, president and principal architect at Hall Architects, views creation as a rational process. “I have never subscribed to the notion that the artist, regardless of medium, is a brooding intellect whose creativity arrives in an epiphanic vision,” explains Hall. His studio in Sarasota’s emerging Design District is an environment where solutions surface as complex issues are reduced to their simplest form. This is not to say that Hall’s creative process is devoid of passion. Quite the contrary—he brings to his work intensity fueled by a broad-based foundation of rich experiences. From constructing redevelopment strategies in the gritty ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, to instructing courses at the Preservation Institute: Nantucket, Hall’s hands-on approach to architecture gives both texture and depth to his projects.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY GENE POLLUX

Hall’s Central Avenue studio embodies what he believes is important about design, reflecting the process by which he develops architecture. Situated in the historic Payne Chapel building, the space provides a harmonious unification of material, form, light and space. The original concrete masonry with residual plaster is left exposed as a reminder of the church members’ tireless work building it block-by-block. The inner walls were removed between tenant spaces, creating an open-air environment where seasoned professionals and recent graduates collaborate on commercial, residential and historic preservation projects. Tall glass windows allow shafts of light to filter in, providing a natural source of brightness. The building is not in competition with the happenings within. Instead, the space’s neutrality allows the studio to be defined by the architects and their work together. 

The studio is consistent with Hall’s core values about collaboration. “We do not attempt to homogenize or render neutral the input of team members and associates,” explains Hall. “Rather we allow each voice to be heard in context.” Just as the palette of concrete masonry, glass and plaster are all expressed in their natural form, each coworker individually stands in harmony with one another. The natural expression of material elements—historic and modern, raw and refined—creates an unadulterated authenticity to the space. Similar qualities exist in the context of the surrounding District, providing opportunities to effectively develop the area. “Today, the District is in peril,” says Hall. However, “it is possible to create great purpose when non-descript buildings form a partnership with the buildings around them.” Together, he says “the unimportant become important when they exhibit cohesiveness in scale, detail and spatial relationship.” Hall recognizes an innate quality to the neighborhood’s physical fabric, giving rise to optimism about its future.