Southern Flair: the Designs of Don Briggs

Posted on 07 March 2008

By David Reese, Montana Living
From country French to the Montana lodge look to neo-Classical rococo, Hamilton-based architect Don Briggs knows his way around
the design palette.
Briggs, originally from Oklahoma, has spent the last six years in Montana, doing what he loves best: working with people and their
design dreams. "My clients are so diverse," he says. "I'd really get bored if I had to design the same thing all the time."
On any given day, Briggs might be finalizing the look of a spire that is being built on a country French home overlooking the Bitterroot Valley, or driving across the valley where a large, expansive modern home is under construction. 

don briggs


Briggs tends to incorporate geometrical themes throughout his designs, as a unifying element. Sometimes, he says, geometric patterns and themes can help solve
"a lot of your problems," but the challenge is to keep the design theme simple. "To create simplicity is one of the hardest things to
do," he says. One of his designs included gigantic wooden horseshoes for a horse breeder in the Southeast. The horseshoes were tied into the truss design of the home, and lent a country Kentucky feel to the home and identified its owner as a horse lover.
"When I approach a project, I try to approach it with a clean slate and let the client and the project dictate the direction," Briggs says.
Briggs is working on an environmentally friendly home in the Bitterroot Valley that he hopes will become a flagship for eco-design. The home spreads over 160 acres and will include leading-edge products in the field of sustainability, including
"cultured logs." These concrete fabrications look like real wood, but they don't come with the environmental cost of logging them. "They're
definitely different, but they're growing on me," Briggs said. Near Darby, in a remote valley where Lost Horse Creek
rushes out of the mountains,
Briggs designed a home that is inspired by nature. With the creek rushing nearby, Briggs designed the home so that the sounds of
the creek can be heard along the entire southwest wall of the home. In Montana it's not uncommon for an architect to design a home around geographical features like cliffs, lakes or mountains, but it's probably rare that an architect gets a chance to build a home around the natural feature of sound.
The home was built around a decades-old cabin that had been on the property for years. Rather than tear the cabin, down the homeowners decided to build a portion of the home right around it.


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