At Design Associates, we pride ourselves on putting forth and developing design solutions that are in alignment with your project budget. How do we do that? With close to 30 years of experience, we can confidently present preliminary cost projections at our very first design presentation. On some occasions, our preliminary cost projects will suggest that the owner's wish list and the budget don't align with one another, presenting our client with a not uncommon conundrum, that being the need for budget and project requirements to be in balance with one another.

So, rather than continuing to refine, develop the design, prepare limited construction drawings and put the project out to bid to several contractors, only to find that it's way over budget, Design Associates focuses on having this budget discussion at the very beginning of the project. This saves you design dollars and time as we are integrating the subject of construction costs into the design phase, seeking to design a project at the outset that you can afford to build.

Doug Stevenson of Kistler and Knapp Builders in Acton has said that many architects do not estimate costs very well and so they develop architectural designs that are over the owner's budget. And this is not discovered until much later in the architectural process. So it becomes more costly and takes more time to re-design. Doug Stevenson has said, and I quote, "Of all of the Greater Boston area architects that we work with, Design Associates is by far the best at designing to a construction budget."


Christopher L. Dallmus, AIA


Look at our website and it’s easy to reach that conclusion. Yet we have been asked to consult on a set of architectural plans. We can sketch, right there before your eyes, a series of minor refinements to the design. Just a few hours of our time and you’ll be walking away with some new ideas to hand to your builder. We’ve helped, with the use of dormers, to convert that attic space over a garage into a family room or guest suite. We’ve transformed dated kitchens into sun-filled spaces with islands, breakfast areas and spacious mudroom entries.

If you have even a modest renovation need, we can provide you with sound design recommendations that you might have never dreamed possible, regardless of the size of your project. Set up an appointment with me to meet at our Cambridge office to discuss how Design Associates can help you make minor alterations to your current home to greatly improve its liveability.


Christopher L. Dallmus, AIA


Design Associates' development of the concept of tradition-based design is a result of many years of experience working in the historic district of Nantucket. Design Associates, though now a Cambridge-based firm, was founded in 1979 in Nantucket. With the entire island of Nantucket in an historic district, each and every exterior change to a building required the approval of the local historic district commission. And with our design firm in Nantucket, each and every one of our projects needed the approval of the historic district commission. What that means is that all of our architectural design work needed to be sympathetic to either an existing context or to an existing building. Perfect world: The design had to look as if it had been there for hundreds of years. So, as an architect you study the architectural shapes, features and details of, in this instance, Nantucket and bring those elements to the drawing board.  Need to design an historically appropriate front entryway for a Main Street house? Find one that's appealing, go outside and measure and photograph it and bring that exact front entryway into your new design. No interpretation or massaging the details........just simply match what already exists. And if that front entryway that you are designing doesn't exist out there, open up a period pattern book and bring the exact design and detail to your design.

Even when working on an historic structure that's not within an historic district, we still bring this tradition-based approach to our architectural designs. And we do this out of respect for the building and its past. As an owner of an historic structure, you are the caretaker and custodian. At Design Associates and with our tradition-based design approach, we can assist you with making sensitive and sympathetic alterations and additions that will be worthy of future preservation.


Christopher L. Dallmus, AIA



One of the great joys of being an architect is having the opportunity to help others and to put forth creative ideas. I just love it when we present ideas that our client never even dreamed about yet they are so right-on for their project. And I find those creative ideas to be not the result of an exhaustive design study process but rather a moment in time, a watershed, a turn in the road, when we see something unique, compelling and appropriate to a particular project and then give that idea shape by drawing it. To me, this is simply a gift and each and every day we find great joy in being able to share this gift for the benefit of our clients.


Christopher L. Dallmus, AIA