Architecture & Higher Things



“I want to build a French house,

not an American interpretation of a French house.

Do you know the difference?” my caller asked. 

Yes!” I said without even the slightest hesitation, smiling. 


Though born in the US and working there now, I spent my childhood and teenage years in Paris, France, as the son of young Protestant missionaries. I wandered the City on my free days and in the evenings, exploring the architecture, streets and boulevards of the famous City of Light. And over time I came to know it very well; its many monuments, history, language and art, including even such little known places as the belly of the Louvre Museum where Egyptian mummies are preserved in cool climate controlled vaults to this day. Extraordinary French art and architecture was beckoning all around me then, and remains one of my many passions today, along with other important design traditions and approaches.

Unexpected phone calls like this are always welcome. The gentleman calling described a magnificent vision for a new home, as if from a ancient dream. Soaring in scale, authentic in classical details, he insisted on the choicest of materials and craftsmanship. His vision flowed from a life story that began in hardship but advanced through hard work to a life of very high successes. Those successes enabled many summer vacations to majestic France over a period of 25 years.  Those summers gave birth to his love of France and its architecture, and to his acclaimed collection of fine post-impressionist art and French wines. The City of Paris, and the many hours he spent experiencing her cultural life, and walking her streets with his spouse, had forever defined his view of what it meant to live well in the world.

He now wanted to build a very personal work of architecture, one that would celebrate those trans-formative experiences and his life’s work, and he needed expert help.

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“I have the simplest of tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” – Oscar Wilde


…That day, as we shared our fond memories of France, our perspectives on life as world travelers, and how I was well equipped to guide him on this quest, he calmly placed his trust in me to help him conceive, design, and build a beautiful new home – his unique contribution to the world of fine architecture.

Today, peace reigns over a completed masterpiece, framed by a beautiful garden, given life in its every gesture, detail and nuance, by fine master artisans and craftsmen. His rare Nabis paintings and Degas sculptures ornament the rooms. His and his wife’s love of Paris and their life journey is reflected in every room and detail in some way.  Their home embodies a memorable life and story, connecting across time with a depth of meaning for them that only works of fine art can do. The home is striking to behold and experience with them, an oasis of calm in a hectic world, a special place to rest and be restored, to recall and recommit to their lives’ values and vision. Here they celebrate life, faith, family, and their close friends and special guests to share beautiful afternoons in the house or garden.

Their home bears testimony to a beautiful life, and with a transcending beauty embraces the sublime.

Do you have a life story, and passion for achievement, similar to my caller?

What Do You Want to Build?

Do you love the arts and travel?

Perhaps, as you’ve worked and traveled around the world, you have experienced stunning works of architecture, conceived and built by passionate master builders of the past. Such works represented something deeply important in their creator’s lives, and today they are a rich part of our shared cultural heritage, a passage in our human story now centuries later. Those works reflect hopes, longings and passionately held beliefs in “how the world should be.” And as their legacy to us, those abiding human passions still shine brightly through the architecture that survives them.

Maybe now is the time for you to let your passions find expression, to commission a significant new work of architecture yourself, in your own time and place today; something deeply personal, meaningful, distinguished and refined. Maybe a deep internal voice has been pressing you toward this noble undertaking for a long time now. Perhaps your friends have told you you’re a “natural” builder – after all, you been building people, dynamic businesses, institutions, and visions of some kind, for how long now? What if you pushed that envelope further now?

Is it time to build your personal “place in the world” now, where you can live out even more fully the person you want to become in the world, in this season in your life?

Of course, some things may seem to stand in your way right now.  Maybe you can identify with this client:

“I am deeply driven by all I want to accomplish in life. But, time is slipping by and much of what I focus on every day now will not last.  I now want to create permanent things, higher things, and leave behind a meaningful legacy in this world when I am gone.” – Jack W.

Does that sound like you? Be honest.

If so, you’re not alone. We all feel this way at times.

I know It Feels

For years, like many, I ran on the hamster wheel, moving my young family from city to city as my career evolved. And many of those career moves were often sadly at the expense of what mattered most to me, my family.

Eventually, I settled down into my own expanding architectural practice, and faced the reality that I needed to change. I needed to experience life and take care of myself and my family. I began to delegate more, and focus where I was able to make the greatest impact for my clients. I became a more intentional and centered person, closer in my relationships with family, friends, my health, and spiritual journey, and to build the kind of personal architecture they needed. Can you relate?

I Want Something for You

This is why I want something really new for you – what some would call a new “life chapter.” As a highly experienced and trusted advisor, I will help you focus, refine, express and create the new life you want to live, so you can become the person you really want to become, by crafting a one-of-a-kind, timeless personal work of architecture for you. As we explore your way of seeing the world and your unique life story, we will give these expression in finely proportioned, beautiful spaces, with charming details crafted in legendary materials such as hand-carved stone, chased bronze-work, truly custom mill-work and cabinetry, elegant hand drawn plaster moldings, and fine hand finishes. Then we will build a fine garden, purchase fine art, custom furnishings and accessories, all to your liking. Through this creative collaboration of reflecting upon and expressing your life, and through the design of this singular work of architecture, you will experience a deep and enduring change in your outlook on life. What began as a dream, will become real. The architecture we dream of will become your home, your very special, very new personal place in the world. And as you take courage and realize such a dream, you will broaden your influence of others, open new doors to new business ventures, and enjoy a much deeper engagement with others in life. And, finally, like the noble builders of the past, whose time-worn architectural creations still whisper to us of their dreams, visions and passion,  you will leave something that carries the human story forward to generations of visionaries to come.

Creating such transformational architecture is the heart, joy and purpose of my work.

Are you a dreamer and a builder? Does this vision resonate with you?

Take a Stand

Only you can reach for this prize, because it represents a life that only you can live.

Take a step. Toward. Change.

To help you explore this journey further, I have set aside personal time to speak with visionary builders like you.

If you’re right for this endeavor, I can help you see the way forward.

To schedule an initial consultation, where you can borrow my brain, so to speak, and find answers to the questions you have right now, you should set up a call with me.

You may do that Here.

I want to hear about the vision you want to build!


Daniel Lee, RA, NCARB







  • About Daniel Lee


    Born in the United States, Daniel Lee spent his formative years abroad in Paris, France, where he was trained to see art, architecture and gardens as natural allies in the shaping of an imaginative and meaningful world. Focused exclusively on creating truly original works of design, he sees his clients as equal partners in shaping the world that should be. He loves to write, sketch, and read philosophy; is married to a musician, and lives and works in historic Alexandria, Virginia. For an introduction to his architectural philosophy, click the link below.

  • Read Wise Authors


    We can learn much about life and architecture through the eyes of those who have gone before us.. Daniel suggests several seasoned authors and some their best works here.

  • Educational Events


    Want to learn more about how to find and craft the right architecture for you? We believe in the life changing power of learning and thinking together, about architecture, design, and life. Join us with our favorite friends and clients for an inspirational, thought provoking, and always memorable exchange of ideas and innovative strategies. Contact us to learn more.


"Daniel created beautiful architecture for my home, where i enjoy my life long collection of French Impressionist paintings. Every day has been enriched immeasurably by his talents and friendship."

- Spencer Hays, Chairman of Southwestern, & Commander of the French Legion of Honor