Marta Hansen, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Annapolis-based Hansen Architects, has designed upwards of 400 houses during her long career. Her style is completely hands-on; she not only executes design work, she also addresses permitting and site issues, critical area laws and structural engineering—all with only an intern to assist her. She doesn’t delegate because, as she says, “I don’t want to miss any opportunities for each project to reach its potential.”
Hansen has been practicing architecture in the Annapolis area for more than 25 years. She enjoys working in the region, which affords her a specific set of challenges that she relishes. “I like solving problems with sites,” she says. “In Annapolis there are issues with maximizing views, daylighting, privacy, flow between indoor and outdoor areas—and more.”
At Hansen Architects, the process begins with helping clients visualize their options, while also making sure that the architect understands clients’ wants, vision and parameters. She uses perspective and elevation sketches to communicate her ideas to clients; unlike many architects, Hansen tends to hand-sketch everything, eschewing programs like AutoCAD when creating her designs. “I prefer to work by hand because I find it’s better for the manipulation and molding of my vision,” she observes. “Using a pencil and paper makes the designs less formulaic and homogenized than the computer.”
Hansen “organizes the house on the site in ways that emphasize what makes it unique.” She prioritizes daylight and indoor/outdoor interaction in her designs, and her preference is to play off traditional house styles to create something fresh and new that still echoes a classic look. Her philosophy, as she describes it, “is to abstract traditional forms to create solutions that are elegant but not minimal.”
When it’s time to choose a contractor, Hansen herself organizes the bidding process. She submits detailed, carefully specified plans and elevations to contractors, with many of whom she has developed long, working relationships. She then analyzes the bids, narrows the options, and suggests three contractors of comparable quality and cost to the homeowner. The result of this thorough vetting process is that there are very few change orders during construction, which saves clients both money and time.
FACTS AND STATS
Marta Hansen, AIA, LEED AP, is the founder and sole principal of Hansen Architects, which designs waterfront, green and historic architecture.
Hansen is expert in the permitting and Critical Area laws that are key to the success of most Annapolis-area projects. She acts as her own structural engineer.
Hansen Architects, 1733 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard,
Annapolis, Maryland 21409; 410-212-7970;