Clark Design Build has become the go-to firm for contemporary homes in Milwaukee.
WHEN ARCHITECT Jacob Clark launched his business in 2005, he was one of the first in his region to implement an online client portal so homeowners could keep track of communication, change orders, photos and construction schedules.
What was then an atypical move demonstrates the approach Clark Design Build still employs.
“It’s a special relationship we have with our clients,” Clark says. “We’re not the type of homebuilder where you look through a portfolio of houses and we customize that for you. Every house is built custom for that client, like the home never existed before. We are just like any other architect who would sit down and create a program for that client and figure out spaces and the relationship of those spaces and how circulation patterns work. You get a very unique design, to the client.”
As a boutique firm building and remodeling homes in the Milwaukee area, Clark Design Build is a state-certified general contractor and trained architectural-based residential design/build firm gaining notoriety for designing and delivering contemporary homes.
“We consider ourselves to be a boutique builder with excellent attention to detail, quality of design and customer service,” Clark says.
Clark, principle designer, has an extensive background in residential design and construction, beginning with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a master’s degree in architecture from the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego.
Clark spent the first years of his career working for two architects in California working on multimillion-dollar homes throughout Southern California before he moved back to his hometown of Milwaukee.
After working for Milwaukee-area architects, Clark developed a business plan he thought the industry was lacking.
In 2005, Clark launched the first iteration of the company, which transitioned into a design/build firm in 2009 and has grown every year since.
He also has begun design/building for people with disabilities and doing some ADA bathrooms for seniors at cost.
“The baby-boomer generation wants to stay in their homes longer and sometimes it’s hard to even find a place at an assisted-living facility,” he says. “I’ve been doing this as a way to give back to the community.”
A Modern Hit
One of the company’s first homes was an old John Randal McDonald house. A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Milwaukee-born architect gained notoriety in the ’50s and ’60s.
“After doing that house and restoring it, keeping original details, I got into the niche of modern design,” Clark says. “I had a lot of people coming to me, asking me to build modern homes. We have several great architects in the city who design beautiful modern homes, but then the homeowner has to go out and find a contractor.”
Though the company creates traditional-style homes, too, such as a Southern plantation-style residence underway, the modern look is remains Clark’s artistic thumbprint – and an important differentiator.
“I am the first design/build firm in Milwaukee doing modern homes at this level,” he says. “No one else is really offering it.”