Even though he knows what his designs will look like long before construction begins, William Duff feels a rush every time he sees a house framed. At that moment, the unique architecture of every space becomes immediately perceptible for architect and client alike.
Having first earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University then continued studies at Colorado State University, where he completed a graduate program in construction management, William is particularly adept at guiding clients through the building process from start to finish. Since establishing his namesake firm in 1998, William has personally directed the
creative efforts of every project, leading a skilled team with diverse talents to make every design unique.
His experience with commercial, mixed use, retail and restaurant projects deepens the pool of knowledge he draws on in the creation of designs for high-end residences, as he is familiar with a comprehensive array of materials and techniques. For example, many clients desire top-of-the-line food preparation areas, and William can employ his restaurant expertise to bring them not only well-crafted cabinetry, surfaces and appliances but a work flow that even professional caterers would covet.
William’s design palette is further expanded through his interest and expertise in Green building. A LEED-certified architect, William has woven the principles of sustainable design into his practice. Even clients who are ambivalent about Green design appreciate his forward-thinking suggestions for energy efficiency and longevity, which often push the design process further and produce a more satisfying built environment.
Underlying each design is a sensitive approach to context and a belief that architecture should respond to and reinforce the character of its surroundings. William feels this is especially crucial
in the San Francisco Bay Area as designing a zero-lot-line home requires a drastically different approach than inventing a home of the same size in a rural setting. William notes that if thoughtfully
executed, it is perfectly feasible to design an ultramodern structure adjacent to a highly articulated Edwardian building.
William never boxes himself into a particular style but rather looks to light, space and interesting materials as the guiding elements of his designs. The body of his work is quite varied, yet he
describes the stylistic appeal of his architecture as warm modernism, blending the clean lines and pragmatism of modern design with rich material palettes and highly functional living spaces.
Exposed brick and even steel are often incorporated—but in a soft way, mingled with earthen materials. In harmony with William’s holistic design approach, every creative decision that he
makes accentuates a larger move, and the culmination of these choices results in progressive, innovative architecture that lives comfortably.
Q&A: More about William
Why does this profession suite you so well?
Each day brings new obstacles and opportunities for growth. I love problem solving and expressing my creativity, so architecture is the perfect outlet. It’s exciting to work with people from concept to fine tuning the design, to specifying materials and finally overseeing the construction of their dream home.
What is the most challenging part of your profession?
Because we assume a leadership role in bringing our clients’ dreams to life, the most challenging part is directing team members—contractors, lighting specialists, audio visual consultants, landscape designers, interior decorators and anyone else who may be called upon—to the ultimate goal. And although the coordination of these parties is not easy, we feel it is one of our greatest strengths.
Do you design outside of San Francisco?
Local projects keep us plenty busy, but we enjoy the diversity of designing along the West Coast and in various vacation hotspots across the country.
What is one of the nicest compliments that you’ve been given?
When referring our firm, one client said that he wouldn’t allow anyone but us to design his next project.