Off the Page: ‘The Classical American House’

In the new book The Classical American House, residential designer Phillip James Dodd spotlights seven architectural firms from across the country who—although differing in design—share a dedication to scale, harmony and character. The designers consider climate, tradition and materials of each house location to create homes that are harmonious to their environment.

“Yet each is a contemporary house—not a period house—as they provide all of the create comforts and technologies that we expect in our homes nowadays,” writes Dodd.

One of the residential architects showcased in the book is the lauded Covington architect Ken Tate. And while each expansive home featured shares Tate’s love of pitch-perfect proportions and craftsmanship, they are as diverse and personal as the families who own them.

“I love classicism, but I don’t approach it in a rigid academic way,” explains Tate, who maintains that he enters into a project creatively while still basing the fundamentals on his understanding of the language of architecture. “I just get into the spirit of whatever style I’m working on at the moment, and go with what feels right, what would look as if it’s always been there.”

This intuition has been cultivated by more than four decades in architectural design with a passion for an intuitive, open-ended approach to historic style. This should not surprise those who follow Tate’s flourishing side job—as non-figurative artist who delights in emotional abstraction. His creative and intuitive side complements his linear and orderly proclivity, which results in his creation of distinct homes with character.

According to Tate, his homes “look familiar—but you couldn’t necessarily find anything like them if you tried.”