Twin Sister Architects Join Forces to Found Dowling Studios

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After working independently for nearly 12 years, Julie and Leslie Dowling come together to launch a bi-coastal architecture practice that celebrates modern design

Dowling Studios is a new, custom residential architecture practice based in San Francisco, California, and Princeton, New Jersey. Led by distinguished architects and identical twin sisters Julie and Leslie Dowling, the studio focuses on modern design by employing elemental shapes, light-filled spaces and a rich palette of natural materials. Dowling Studios creates spaces for contemporary families to live within a sustainable context, and recently completed the first LEED Platinum residence in Sonoma County, California.

After working independently on separate coasts for nearly 12 years, the sisters have come full circle to found Dowling Studios. The twin sisters share a mirror career in many ways. Both Julie and Leslie received their Masters in Architecture from Princeton University. Later they worked together n the offices of architects Juan Navarro Baldeweg in Madrid, Spain, and Michael Graves in Princeton, New Jersey.

While Leslie continued to work as an independent architect in Princeton, Julie moved to to San Francisco, where she took a position as Senior Store Designer for Banana Republic and, later founded the architectural firm Dowling Kimm, developing extensive experience in custom residential, hotel, retail, and interior design.

In their new architectural practice, Julie and Leslie Dowling share a deep appreciation of modern design. Defining their approach as ‘warm minimalism,’ the partners look to the building site and surroundings for cues to build the color and material palette, working in harmony with nature.

”Our aesthetic philosophy is not driven by a pre-determined house style, but in proportion, materiality, and quality of light,” says Dowling Studios Partner Julie Dowling. “Our search for beauty lies partly in the expression of the materials, primarily metal, glass and wood, and construction methods, while seamlessly integrating with the colors and textures of the environment. When people feel good in our spaces, we know we’ve reached our goal.”

The meticulous framing of views is another signature of the new firm’s approach. Through floor-to-ceiling glass window walls, extending the length of the house, the architects look to the landscape to define the edges of the living spaces rather than those of the physical building itself. The boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces become blurred. Private spaces, such as bedrooms tend to have more intimate views.

With each one of the architects’ homes, different views are framed to different parts of the surroundings. The views are not revealed at once. It is not until one has moved through the entire space, that one can truly understand the overall design scheme. Ultimately, the work of Dowling Studios is about connecting positive experiences.

Julie and Leslie Dowling have both received distinguished individual accolades: Julie is the recipient of a Merit Award for Architecture from the AIA, California Council 2011, while Leslie has won two awards of Excellence from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects as well as a Merit Award for Architecture from the AIA, California Council 2011.


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