“Designing the future. Redesigning the past.” When you’re a dreamer like William Phillips, doing that every day seems easy.
Equally comfortable designing commercial buildings, including restaurants, retail and office spaces, as well as both multi-family and single family residences, Phillips has also been involved in master planning of several retirement and destination resort developments. A natural curiosity for how buildings and their components function is one reason why.
Phillips started his career embedded in history at Colonial Williamsburg, working his way up the ranks in historic restorations until, in 1969, he was recommended for an ambitious project in the West Wing of the White House. He first set up his design practice in Williamsburg, where he balanced his client work with lecturing at the College of William and Mary. The call of family from his hometown of Mobile, Alabama led Phillips back to his Southern roots in 1979.
When Phillips relocated his practice to Dauphin Island, Alabama, in 1992, he chose an old structure for a home and studio for his practice. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Sound, the location showcased the best – and worst – of what Mother Nature had to offer.
The home needed a total overhaul, including new windows. Phillips saw not only an opportunity to create the best of both worlds for his personal and work life, but also to test various building products in real world conditions. He ordered windows from three manufacturers, including Andersen, to see how they’d work. That experience sold him on the Andersen quality. One year after the windows were installed, Phillips called Andersen to order windows to replace the other two brands installed in his house.
“Seeing how windows perform in real conditions, not just a simulated environment, helps me understand what my own clients will be concerned about and how that product will perform not just a month after installation but a year and beyond,” explained Phillips. “There was no contest when you looked at how the Andersen® windows were doing a year later. There are nice windows out there in the world, but the quality of Andersen surpasses anyone else’s that I’ve seen.”
More recently, Phillips was introduced to Andersen’s Coastal A-Series windows. “The A-Series is a perfect window option for some of the things I do. Some styles are very traditional, some are very modern; and this window works in both design styles. It’s definitely a window we’re going to use and recommend where I can. The beauty of Coastal-A Series products is that they enhanced the quality in a way that makes everyone’s lives easier: the architect concerned with special building codes, and the client who wants to protect their home without being obvious.”
It’s a window he loves both in reality and in the homes of his dreams. When it comes to dreaming up new homes, Phillips’ imagination can’t just turn off. “Occasionally I have an idea for a house, but no client who would love it. I just draw it up, and set it aside in a folder until I’ve got enough to present to Southern Living.” As a result, Phillips’ portfolio is published regularly by Southern Living® Magazine.
Phillips doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. “I’m gonna work until the day I die,” he said. As long as he keeps dreaming, and the ideas keep coming.
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