Great Clients = Great Architectural Projects

Client Partnership—The Backbone of Architectural Excellence

We are blessed with the opportunity to build on some spectacular sites. Waterfront lots along rivers, bays and oceans, lofts that overlook city skylines, large estates in valleys and mountain ranges. It is easy to become completely enamored by the innumerable possibilities of a beautiful site.

Nearly 50 years in the game and we’ve learned this:

No matter how incredible a site it may be – how limitless the budget, or how relaxed the timeline – the project will suffer if the relationship with the client is not ideal.

You, the client, are the most important piece of the puzzle. If you want to embark on the journey of manifesting a project that has never existed before, and you’re looking to have fun while doing it, you’re our people.

Our motto, “Let’s do that!” encapsulates our philosophy.

For the client, this means you’re willing to trust the process and the journey. You’re open to experimentation, unexpected avenues of design, and a desire to contribute actively during the project. You want to explore various solutions to ultimately create a legacy house that meets your desires.

The Importance of Mutual Trust During Architectural Projects

Building on Trust

A successful architectural venture is not a one-sided affair; it’s a collaborative process that demands a mutual trust between the client and the architect. Trust is the cornerstone that allows the free flow of ideas, enabling both parties to push the boundaries of creativity.

For clients, this means granting architects the leeway to explore and innovate. For architects, this involves being transparent about what can realistically be achieved, both aesthetically and functionally.

When this trust is established, the end result is often a project that exceeds initial expectations, creating not just a structure, but a home filled with personal meaning.

Communication: The Unsung Hero of Successful Architectural Projects

The Power of Effective Communication

In the digital age, the mediums for communication have diversified, but the essence remains constant—clarity and timeliness. Effective communication is more than a series of email updates; it’s an ongoing dialogue where feedback and insights are exchanged openly.

For architects, this involves making sure that the client is aware of both the micro and macro aspects of the project. From discussing minute design details to providing an overview of project timelines, effective communication minimizes misunderstandings and enhances the project outcome.

For clients, keeping the lines of communication open means providing timely feedback and asking questions, ensuring that the project stays aligned with their vision.

Budgeting and Financial Planning: The Practical Pillars

The Financial Framework

One of the less glamorous, yet utterly crucial aspects of any architectural endeavor is the financial planning that underpins it. A well-laid-out budget is like the foundation of a building—it needs to be rock solid for the rest of the structure to hold up.

A clearly defined budget benefits both parties, as it sets the parameters within which creative solutions can be explored. Once financial expectations are set and agreed upon, it allows for a smoother, more efficient project rollout, ensuring that the focus remains on the creative and functional aspects of the project.

The Hallmarks of Exceptional Clients

Who is A Great Client?

We’re grateful to have worked with some incredible people. The process of designing a custom home is intimate and it takes time. Because of this, our relationships with our clients typically last much longer than the length of the project.

Great clients show up on time because they respect our time. They come prepared to meetings and participate in the process. The ideal client expresses their joys, as well as their concerns. They give honest feedback and trust our expertise. They are polite, friendly, and pay on time. Ideally, they have a good sense of self and can laugh at the small things.

Sealing the Deal with Satisfaction

The completion of the architectural project is not the end, but rather the beginning of your experience in the newly constructed building.

Having a holistic appreciation that this is the beginning and not the end will allow you the time and space to enjoy this big accomplishment.

With nearly five decades of experience, Bohl Architects understands the importance of this final step, ensuring that clients walk into a legacy home that meets both functional requirements and personal aspirations.

Our Job

Bohl works diligently to give you the best possible experience. Much like a construction project, the layers of the architectural design process build on each other. We will define it for your individual project, so you know what to expect at every step of the process.

It’s on us to begin with clear objectives, establish the best way to communicate with you, let you know how and when to pay us, and to keep track of milestones in the schedule. Transparency is the key to success.

Great clients = Great Architectural Projects

If you are thinking about a project and want to learn something and have fun along the way, let’s talk. We would love to hear from you.

Bohl Architects has forty-eight years of experience in designing legacy houses.

FAQ on Achieving Successful Architectural Projects

Q1: What makes a site 'ideal' for an architectural project?

An ideal site is not just about breathtaking views or geographical location. It’s a blend of feasibility, budget, and how well it aligns with the client’s vision. While waterfront lots and city lofts offer a unique appeal, the compatibility between the site and the project’s requirements plays a pivotal role. Every site has its challenges. Our job is to take advantage of the most beautiful possibilities and meet your individual program.

Q2: What qualities define the 'ideal client'?

The ideal client is engaged, open to creative dialogue, and values mutual trust. They understand that a project is a two-way street requiring active participation and feedback. Trusting the architect’s expertise while being willing to express their desires and concerns is key to a successful project.

Q3: How important is client-architect communication?

Communication is the bedrock of any successful project. Clear objectives and transparent discussions not only facilitate a smooth process, but also help in anticipating and mitigating potential challenges. Effective communication ensures that both parties are aligned in their expectations and timelines.

Q4: What does 'transparency' mean in the context of architectural projects?

Transparency refers to a clear and open exchange of information, including project objectives, budget considerations, and schedule milestones. It eliminates any ‘guesswork’ and helps the client to understand what exactly is happening at every step of the project.

Q5: How does Bohl Architects maintain long-term relationships with clients?

Bohl Architects takes pride in crafting legacy houses that stand the test of time, much like our relationships with clients. Through effective communication, mutual trust, and a shared vision, the engagement often extends beyond the duration of the project, leading to lifetime relationships.

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Sustainable Architecture: Designing Green to Serve Many Generations

The most sustainable house is built at one time and serves many generations for many years without modification or major repairs.

Why Design Sustainably?

We believe it is our ethical responsibility to follow sustainable design principles and they are intrinsic to our practice. We design legacy houses and for us this means using quality materials with efficient systems for longevity.

In line with sustainable advancements, our team collaborates with consultants and general contractors right from the early design stages. This ensures you receive the most relevant information, guiding you to make environmentally responsible decisions for your home.

Discussing Sustainable Architecture & Design

Whether it’s a renovation or new construction, sustainability is an ongoing conversation throughout our design process. During the initial design phase, we discuss the overall objectives for the building, analyze the site and determine the best orientation for the home.

We’ll be sure to discuss your unique program and work with you to create a hierarchy of importance. The main objective is to take advantage of the natural qualities, topography, light, and air, inherent to the site.

Sustainable Considerations

A smaller, well-designed house lives large.

In addition to basic energy sustainable features such as insulation and high efficiency mechanical systems, geothermal heating, and LED lighting, a most important sustainability measure is to design a house that is the appropriate size.

A house that is too large will increase the energy use during construction and consume operational energy throughout its life. Every attempt to build smaller will increase sustainability. To build the most efficient footprint possible, we determine if certain spaces can accommodate multiple functions.

Recycle and Reuse

When applicable, we discuss recycling of old materials and the reuse of the existing.

Quality Materials

Using local, natural, non-toxic, quality materials is always the goal.  Our buildings tend to use a lot of glass, in tandem we analyze our building systems for the best wall construction possible for insulation and comfort.  We are careful about proper air sealing and weatherization. We analyze the climate and design for efficient insulation at all roofs, wall cavities, and foundations.

Efficient Systems

Most of our projects incorporate the best available technology to date for the important comfort systems in the house. We design buildings that use high efficiency HVAC, solar, geothermal energy efficient lighting and appliances. We openly communicate and share all the possibilities with you so you can determine the systems that will bring you the most value.

Sustainability for Waterfront Properties

Conscious design around the landscape and ultimately the protection of the rivers, estuaries, bays, and oceans are a layer of sustainable design we strive for in our waterfront projects. We work with you to improve your shoreline and plant your properties with native species using water-smart plantings and technology for storm water management and smart irrigation. 

Water Systems

We guide you to make smart selections for water systems, septic management, plumbing fixtures, and plumbing fittings.

Let’s talk sustainable considerations for your home

Bohl Architects Case Studies:

We incorporate sustainable elements in every home, but Magothy Modern and Bembe Beach are two stand out projects. Both houses are compact in their square footage. They have multiple floors on a small footprint. This compactness is important in reduced energy consumption of construction and operation.

Each house features screened porches, patios, terraces, and a variety of exterior living spaces that are not heated nor cooled but provide useful pleasant spaces for life. Again: reduced energy for construction and operation. These exterior living spaces are custom designed for the unique features of each site, considering sun and wind patterns, and privacy.

In both Magothy Modern and Bembe Beach, we designed for multi-generational use with a long horizon. The houses are tailored for the needs of our clients but are also designed to be flexible as the needs of subsequent generations’ use and enjoy the house. The most sustainable house is built at one time and serves many generations for many years without modification or major repairs.

Magothy Modern

For Magothy Modern, Bohl designed the basement space with the existing topography so that storage, mechanical and secondary rooms are sheltered by the earth: this is very economical space to construct (fewer windows and exterior siding) and very energy efficient in operation. The living spaces of the basement have full windows to the view, and “walk out” to the grade. This makes for excellent functioning rooms with very efficient energy costs of construction and operation.

Click Here to view the full project.

Bembe Beach

Bembe Beach is adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay flood plain. We designed the first floor in solid concrete and placed it 2 feet above the highest flood height requirement. The foundation is designed to withstand flooding and allow for easy “clean-up” after a high-water event. Durability is a very important principle in sustainability.

Click Here to view the full project

The Historical Context of Sustainable Architecture

The roots of sustainable architecture trace back to age-old practices that were inherently in tune with nature. Overtime, urbanization, and technological advancements distanced architecture from its natural beginnings. Today, we’re returning to these roots, bridging ancient wisdom with modern innovation, and combining sustainable architecture with principles of biophilic design.

Check out our piece on The “Greenest” House in America

Benefits of Sustainable Architecture and Biophilic Design

The primary focus of sustainable architecture is to minimize the impact on the natural world, while biophilic design is about maximizing the human’s connection to the natural world. When sustainability meets biophilic design, the results are great for both parties.

  • Financial Savings: Energy-efficient homes that also incorporate natural elements can lead to significant savings on utility bills.

  • Enhanced Well-being: Spaces that connect inhabitants to nature, through light, materials, or views, can substantially improve mental and physical health.

  • Increased Property Value: Nature-centric, sustainable designs resonate with today’s homebuyers, increasing resale value.

  • Reduced Environmental Impact: Beyond just reducing waste and energy consumption, biophilic designs restore a natural harmony to urban spaces.

Traditional vs. Sustainable Architecture with Biophilic Element

Traditional buildings often prioritize immediate needs. In contrast, sustainable architecture that integrates biophilic elements ensures a home is not only functional, but also forms a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding environment.

Ready to Talk About Your Future Sustainable Space?

With sustainable architecture and biophilic design principles at our core, let’s craft a home that’s not only good for the natural world, but also resonates with your innate love for it. We can design a home that allows you to experience living in a space that is a seamless extension of the landscape.

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FAQs on Sustainable Architecture & Biophilic Design:

What is the primary focus of sustainable architecture?

Sustainable architecture primarily focuses on reducing the environmental impact of a building, ensuring it’s energy-efficient, and making use of sustainable materials.

How does sustainable architecture benefit me as a homeowner?

Beyond the environmental benefits, homeowners can experience long-term savings, a healthier living environment, and increased property value.

How do sustainable architecture and biophilic design intersect?

While sustainable architecture focuses on minimizing environmental impact, biophilic design ensures human-nature connectivity. Together, it becomes a building that is eco-friendly and human centric.

Why is biophilic design essential in modern homes?

In an increasingly urbanized world, biophilic design restores our innate connection to nature, promoting well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing livability.

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Biophilic Design Principles & Wellness

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilia- n. Love for the natural world felt universally by humans. Biophilic design is an intrinsic principle for Bohl – we have always given importance to it, and it’s evolved with our practice over time. The goal is to create a building in harmony with its environment and with varying degrees of actual inside to outside connection. 

Benefits of Connecting the Interior to the Outside

As architects, we have the power to prevent illness and depression through designing meaningful spaces that are connected to nature, utilize low-toxic materials, and prioritize healthy air circulation. Incorporating biophilic design has been proven to make humans feel calmer, less stressed, more productive, and rested. Afterall, who doesn’t feel better after getting some fresh air or spending time in nature?

Although many humans want to be connected to the natural world, we have varying definitions as to what that entails. Some may want to rough it in the wilderness, while others may be looking for more of a glamping experience. No shame either way, but our designs do veer more toward that luxury glamping lifestyle…

Part of the Bohl design process is to identify where nature plays a part in your life so you can reap the wellness benefits of biophilic design.

Questions that Guide Biophilic Design

What is the climate of the site?
Understanding the climate is fundamental to creating a design that’s harmonious with its surroundings. The local climate can dictate materials used, architectural layout, and even the positioning of the structure. If a site experiences harsh winters or scorching summers, a design that responds to these conditions will not only be energy-efficient but will also enhance the comfort of its inhabitants. Climate-responsive design can also play a pivotal role in reducing a home’s carbon footprint.

What makes the site special?
Each site has its own unique charm and characteristics that differentiate it from others. It could be the subtle undulations in the terrain, the way sunlight filters through the canopy, or even the historical significance attached to it. By recognizing and celebrating these distinct features, we can craft designs that respect and amplify the inherent beauty of a location. In doing so, we embed a sense of place and belonging in our creations.

Does the site have special environmental features to be enhanced by our design – specimen trees, water features or views, native plants, cliff side, rock outcroppings, bucolic scenery?
These natural features aren’t just aesthetic assets; they’re touchpoints to nature that can deeply influence the experience of a space. Specimen trees could offer shade and become focal points in a garden; native plants can be woven into the landscape to foster local biodiversity. With the right design, a cliff-side view can become a living painting inside a room. Our goal is to ensure that the built environment seamlessly integrates and elevates these environmental features rather than overshadowing or compromising them.

How can we make the landscape better with the addition or renovation of a home?
The intervention of architecture should be a means to enrich the landscape, not detract from it. This might involve creating spaces that allow for more greenery, setting up rainwater harvesting systems to nourish the grounds, or even using materials that age gracefully with time and weather. A thoughtful renovation can enhance both the aesthetic and ecological value of a site, turning it into a thriving habitat for both humans and wildlife.

What challenges will we face when incorporating the project into the site?
Every site comes with its set of challenges, be it rocky terrain, high groundwater levels, or even local regulations. Anticipating these challenges allows us to craft innovative solutions that turn potential drawbacks into design opportunities. By collaborating closely with local craftsmen, environmentalists, and communities, we can glean insights and knowledge that aid in navigating these challenges while staying true to our design ethos.

Does the property have large temperature swings?
Large temperature variations not only impact the comfort of inhabitants but also dictate the choice of materials and construction techniques. For instance, a site with significant diurnal temperature shifts might benefit from high thermal mass materials like stone or brick, which can store heat during the day and release it at night. Designing for such conditions ensures that homes remain comfortable year-round while minimizing reliance on artificial heating or cooling.

Is there a proliferation of bugs?
In areas abundant with insects, considerations extend beyond mere comfort. While bugs play a critical role in local ecosystems, unchecked they can become nuisances or even health hazards in homes. Here, design solutions could range from integrating insect screens, choosing specific plants that deter pests, or even designing water features in a way that doesn’t encourage mosquito breeding. Striking a balance between welcoming nature and ensuring comfort is key.

Is it surrounded by urban concrete?
Urban settings, with their expanses of concrete, offer unique challenges and opportunities for biophilic design. While the immediate natural environment might seem limited, innovative solutions like vertical gardens, green roofs, or urban forests can reintroduce nature into the concrete jungle. The juxtaposition of greenery against urbanity can create striking visual contrasts while also offering pockets of respite and tranquility in the hustle and bustle of city life.

Bohl Architects Biophilic Design Case Studies

Merida Courtyard House

Living in a city can sometimes take us away from our nature, but this home in Downtown Merida does quite the opposite.  Whether it’s the courtyard, the pool, or the roof, there is a place to experience the natural world.

Magothy Modern

A modern design that takes advantage of the natural light and the Magothy River views. The horizon line is apparent from nearly every room in the interior, while the outdoor patio provides rest and a complete connection to the surrounding landscape.

The Future of Biophilic Design with Bohl Architects

Our designs have always been more than just buildings; they are structures that breathe with their environment, fostering a symbiotic relationship between nature and humans. As we look ahead, Bohl remains committed to the principles and practices of biophilic design.

We have seen the profound impacts our biophilic designs have had on the wellness and well-being of our clients. With each project, we aim to push the boundaries of what’s possible, crafting homes that are not just sustainable, but are spaces that have soul and bring joy.

In the coming years, we’re excited to delve deeper into innovative methods, materials, and technologies that align with our biophilic ethos. Through architecture, we get to explore the myriad ways we can weave nature into our daily lives, and to discover the transformative power of design that truly resonates with our innate love for the natural world.

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Why Historic Preservation Is Important

What is Historic Preservation all about?

Historic buildings are tangible pieces of the past that help define a community’s story. As architects, it’s important to know what once was so we can develop on that story. You can’t know where to go if you don’t know where you came from. It’s not about keeping everything the same, but rather maintaining a building’s integrity while simultaneously creating something new and of this time. “It has been said that at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.” – William Murtagh (1923–2018) William Murtagh was a historian who served as the first “Keeper of the Records” for the National Register of Historic Places.

Leading Image 1

Four Historical Preservation Standards

There are different ways to approach a historical property. The four preservation standards are preservation, restoration, reconstruction, and rehabilitation.


Document what is existing and make notes about materials and history.  This approach is all about maintenance and retention of original materials is the highest objective.


Remove evidence of any alterations that do not coincide with the time period that’s being preserved. This approach involves a lot of historical research.


Recreate portions of the house which may have been lost, based on material evidence and documentation available.


The need to alter or add to a historic property so that it meets continuing or changing uses, while retaining the property’s historic character.

Historic Preservation For Your Home

All facets of Historic Preservation are of value, but rehabilitation is where a project can really become fun. There is something about making a historic building a viable, living structure for the next century that brings us joy.

Modern additions to a building are made with attention to detail and the utmost care for what’s existing. It’s about taking the familiar and tweaking it in a way that creates something aesthetically cool and durable. This is what legacy means to Bohl.

Through historic preservation, we’re able to understand ourselves and how humans live, hence allowing us to better serve you. Our goal is to design in a way that’s compatible to the house’s original function and style, while still creating something that is entirely unique and meets your needs. Bohl Architects listen to your lifestyle considerations first so we can ensure they’re accommodated in the overall design.

We have nearly 50 years of experience working with historic architecture. Whatever your project entails, you can be confident that we’ll meet your expectations. If you’re interested in learning about our previous preservation projects, read on. If you’d rather skip right to the discussion of your old home’s potential, we’re here!  

Still Wondering Why Historic Preservation Is Important?

Take a look at Bohl Architects Historic Preservation Case Studies to witness the transformative power of preserving the past. These studies unveil not just architectural sights but also the stories and cultural imprints left behind. Our historic preservation work includes both residential and commercial projects. History isn’t just to be remembered; it’s to be lived and appreciated anew.

Bohl Architects Historic Preservation – Case Studies

Frederick Douglass Summer Home in Highland Beach

The Frederick Douglass Summer Home was built for the famous abolitionist in 1894-95 by his son, Charles Remond Douglass. The house faces Chesapeake Bay in the community of Highland Beach, Maryland, which was developed in 1893 as a summer resort for elite Washington, DC black families. Frederick Douglass designed the house with its second-floor balcony tower, so that “I as a free man, could look across the Bay to where I was born a slave.”

Bohl Architects completely restored the home in 1986 to National Park Service Standards and listed the home on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1991. The house was raised 4 feet with a new foundation system to comply with FEMA Flood Plain requirements. The exterior wood siding was removed allowing wall cavity access while not disturbing the interior bead board finishes. The siding was restored and replaced in original coursed positions. The house received interior modifications and infrastructure to function as a modern residence.

The home received the 1995 Orlando Ridout Prize from the Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation, Inc. It is now the house museum of the Highland Beach Historical Association.

1840’s Gothic Revival

This home is nearly 200 years old. There have been only six owners of this home, each having the property for long periods of time and giving their own personal touch to the space. Bohl completed a renovation and addition to this historic, Gothic Revival home.

Hudson Farmhouse

Bohl Architects added to the back of the original 1840s home. We maintained the old feel, while adding modern touches.  The plan now contains adjacent dining and living areas on the main floor, each with a fireplace. We designed a new eat-in kitchen and sitting room, where window walls overlook the pond and meadow.

Prince George Street

Trust Bohl For Your Next Historic Preservation Project

The heart of preservation is not just in the bricks and mortar, but in the soul of the community and the tales these structures tell. At Bohl Architects, we are passionate about giving life to these historic spaces, ensuring they remain standing as reminders of our shared legacy and continue to inspire future generations.

If you’re ready to embark on a historical preservation project or simply wish to learn more about our architectural work, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you!

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