We had the good fortune of connecting with Gary Gene Olp, FAIA and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gary Gene, what do you attribute your success to?
In a word Sustainability.

From a very young age I have been acutely aware of an intrinsic connection with nature. I was driven to become an Architect by some unknown or at least unperceived intuition. The connection to the natural world and the built world was there when as a boy, I led my friends in our adventures building underground forts, snow caves, tree houses and club houses complete with living roofs and berms.

As a student of Architecture it made sense to me to create spaces in which to live work and play that were wedded to the region and the natural world outdoors. In my work today, and, what I think reinforces our brand is the attention to health and well being, interiors that aren’t limited by walls but expand beyond the “Shelter” and are directly infused with the world outside and the concept of Net Zero Energy usage. Renewables play a part more specifically our “Brand” reflects our commitment to Passive Sustainability.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Building a practice based on Sustainable Architecture has and continues to be a difficult path. Routine or Commerce based Architecture isn’t easy either but as a firm becomes specialized, e.g. high rise, multifamily, medical, retail etc.their expertise and work is sort of established and defined. My business case is different. As a creative with a passion for designing buildings that are beautiful, artistically expressive and environmentally responsible requires a lot of time and sweat equity. That doesn’t always equate to affluence or profitability. That said, practical management skills I learned in the steel mill have contributed to my ability to manage the business aspects of our practice for a reasonable return on our time and efforts. Our challenge is that our clients are one off’s. We don’t and honestly have never had repeat clients. Our clients are independent thinking individuals that “get it!” It’s a rare and enlightened client that is aesthetically sensitive, wants a building that is beautiful in appearance and sensory in its use of materials and space while also leaving something of value for future generations. Combining nature, beauty and sustainability in natural harmony is what we do and what sets us apart from other firms.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I gravitate toward the natural, intimate and the Grand. There are a few places in Dallas that have sweeping views of downtown and the Trinity River. White Rock Lake here is really the crown jewel of this City. I’ve lived near it and contributed to its enhancement and preservation. There are some wonderful Architectural and cultural achievements in our City. From the sublime like the Bath House Cultural Center with its on going music, art and live performances, accented by the most spectacular view of Downtown at sunset across the lake, to the grandiose experiences of the Dallas Arts district. Hanging out, eating and drinking rotate between places like Lee Harvey’s, the Double Wide, C&B and my neighborhood Italian Restaurant and the local watering hole Good Friends. There are number of 5 star restaurants and local places that offer a wonder breakfast set in an organic garden to quaint places with limited seating. So much history here in neighborhoods and places like the Texas Theatre. I love to bike and walk in and around the parks we have here in Dallas at all times of year – think a heavy snowfall and freeze walking along Dixon Branch Creek. I enjoy our museums, nature centers and concert halls. I’d be remiss not to mention roller blading or walking through Fair Park – a magical place with art and imagery from a heroic and mercuric time. A week is far short of long enough.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Primarily my Father. He supported my young efforts at building things and shaping the landscape around my childhood home. I always had the tools, and somehow the nails, wood, paint whatever was needed to create the passion of the day. He was an entrepreneur, and a mechanical genius. I worked in his steel mill and learned how to manage people and produce quality products. When I decided to study Architecture he preferred that I follow him in the steel industry but supported my path. My grandfather inspired my love of listening and making music and was always encouraging me to draw. He arranged my first “professional” job as a carpenter during my college years – sweat, injury, blisters and all – I have to thank Mr. Norman Broad, the builder I worked for who taught me how to cuss at my mistakes but not the person that made them. The man who has most inspired me was Frank Lloyd Wright, but the man who gave me the opportunity to excel was my first boss, John Harris III at Harris/Day Architects. If not for the freedom and liberties he gave me to design and interact with clients I would not be where I am today. And, today it’s my lovely life partner Ms. Amy King who sees more potential in me than I do most days. Her encouragement drives me to do more and keeps pushing me to excel everyday!

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