Architect Works to Get to the Soul of Buildings

Saturday, October 27, 2012

yehuda-inbar-architect-sarasotaA Sarasota architect for more than 25 years, Yehuda Inbar has done more than 875 projects throughout the area in a variety of venues.

A Sarasota architect for more than 25 years, Yehuda Inbar has done more than 875 projects throughout the area in a variety of venues.

Yehuda Inbar of Inbar Architect in Sarasota.

He has created waterfront homes on Siesta and Casey keys, designed commercial and public properties, including the Englewood YMCA, and golf and country clubs. He also specializes in renovation of custom residences.

Correspondent Chris Angermann interviewed him in the Inbar Architect office on Ringling Boulevard.

Q:What is your approach to architecture?

A:We’re in the business of making people happy, and we’re doing it with form, light and nature. So I start with imagination and think, “How I can enhance the environment?”

From my clients I get the energies of their lifestyle — do they like to boat? To walk, run or exercise? To party with a lot of other people? And that also influences the style and environment I try to create for them.

I pay a great deal of attention to the experience that a person using the space will go through. How will it feel? Is it easy and fun?

There is also some art involved. Without it, there is no architecture. There are so many buildings that have no art in them. They’re just a certain size, functional space, which is more about engineering.

Of course, we have to do that, too, but with architecture there is an art to it, which is subjective.

Ideally, we want to get to the soul of the building.

Q:How does that work in concrete terms?

A:I’m doing a house on Siesta Key right now. It’s a four-level building including the “green” roof, which is a garden. We have interior stairs in the house, but to get from the third level to the roof, I put the stairs on the exterior because I wanted my clients to experience the walk on the outside of the space.

I thought, “How would it feel to be up high here versus walking on the inside, where it’s air-conditioned, encased and secure?” It affects your psyche, your mood.

I also wanted to give people who look at the building a visual link to the roof. The outside stairs are an element that communicates, because at night there is lighting that goes up with the treads, so you can view the building from a distance and see movement. It expresses the actual function.

Q:How does your approach work with renovations?

A:We leave as much as possible intact, and we add things in the most efficient ways, because of budgetary issues.

I try to use simple forms in whatever the vocabulary of the building is, because I don’t want the renovation to look like it’s trying too hard to be fancy, to be something the house was not.

We create a great plan that will have everything a new house would have — a master suite, master dressing area and master bathroom, laundry room, family room, access to the kitchen, efficient movement to the dining room and to the outside. They all need to be functional and work.

In the entry, we may add a foyer if there wasn’t one before. We also create some kind of transitional space from the outside, perhaps a 5-foot wall and a fountain as a focal point.

And then, we address parking. Many times, garages are too small, so we add a carport or make the existing garage larger.

Q:You’ve mentioned budgetary issues. How does cost fit into your thinking?

A:It’s always a factor. Even with very wealthy people, budgets always play a role. I’ve never met a client who didn’t care about the cost.

So we do LEED-certified green buildings of very high levels. All the materials we use have to do with efficiency and a healthy environment, like solar hot water heater and electricity. We install big cisterns underground to collect rain and water the lawn and gardens with it, so you don’t have to buy the water.

But it’s not just about saving money; it’s also about creating value.

If we can come up with a design solution that clients perceive as real value for them, more than likely they will buy it because they’re feeling that they’re getting a good deal. So it’s a question of how to bring the most value to the building — more space, more view, more light — and giving clients a rich experience that will be fun, happy, airy; like a fresh day.

They may not know why they like it, but it tells them something about themselves, and they say, “Oh, I will feel good in this. I want this.”