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An Interview with Rand Elliott

By Sean Dorsy AIA posted 06-06-2013 02:31 PM

An Interview with Rand Elliott, FAIA
President, Elliott + Associates Architects
By: Ken Wilson, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED Fellow
Design Principal, Perkins+Will 


“Architectural Portraits” best describes the design approach of Rand Elliott, FAIA. Each project is conceived as a direct reflection of the client personality or business goals. Since the inception of the firm in 1976, the firm has received 289 international, national, regional and local awards including ten National AIA Honor Awards. 

Rand is a Past President of the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was Program Chairman from 1995 – 2002. In 2002, he participated in the prestigious Bruce Goff Fellowship lecture series at the University of Oklahoma. In March of 2004, Rand was one of eight featured lecturers at the prestigious “Emerging Voices” lecture series presented by the Architectural League of New York. Rand was awarded the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the AIA William Wayne Caudill Award in 2005, which recognizes an individual member who has displayed a long-standing commitment to the betterment of the architectural profession. In November of 2006, Rand was inducted into Interior Design Magazine’s Hall of Fame which was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the growth and prominence of the design field. In October of 2007, Oklahoma State University inducted Rand into the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology’s Hall of Fame.

How has your practice changed over the past five years?

The past five years have been a blur. The most work in our 37 year history. We grew. The work is mature and the best in our history.

What do you hope to be doing differently in the next five years?

The next five years is likely to be more of a combination of small and large projects. We will remain very busy. This is our time.

How do you promote innovative thinking in your office?

Practice. New ideas are what feed our office culture. We are all curious types. We share “discoveries” in monthly “Details” lunch meetings.

Where do you seek inspiration?

Inspiration comes from life. Going to an art exhibit, musical concert or the ballet keeps me stimulated. I also use photography as a creative experience. I see differently through a view finder.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your practice today?

Challenge is another word for opportunity. When one door closes another door opens. One must be open to change.

Tell us about some of your projects that step outside the traditional practice model.

I have recently patented a concept for a wind-powered high-rise building. I write “word paintings” – my own brand of poetry – to help me communicate     architectural inspirations. I hope my words will become a book.

What are some of the things you like best about living in Oklahoma City?

The people, the seasons, the varied landscape. The fact that the pioneer spirit still exists. Today it is called innovation.

Are there any factors, such as new technologies, that are affecting your designs these days?
Technology is not a solution. It is a tool. I have been working in sketchbooks for 35 years. I find that people are amazed by hand drawings. I believe sketches are the language of your soul. At the same time, we do some amazing 3D animations for presentations to our clients. They often “match” the reality. With all that said, my view is that true inspiration remains elusive. As a frequent jury member, I see a great deal of copy-cat imagery. Frankly it is disappointing. It appears people are too lazy or too afraid to commit the necessary effort to search for original ideas. My recent reading suggests that people are tired of the computer at the end of the day and look to crafts for balance. That change excites me.

What do you do to relax and recharge?

I like to walk my construction sites and take photographs. Construction is so beautiful.

What advice would you give to a recent high school graduate that was thinking about going to architecture school?

Do it! If you are disciplined, curious, enjoy solving problems and are dedicated to a life of art and science, you will have an inspired life.

Elliott + Associates Architects' Sample Projects:


RED Prime Steak: 504 N. Broadway Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Vesper Building: 929 N. Broadway Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73102