“Do You Know the Difference?”


“I want to build a French house, not an American interpretation of a French house. Do you know the difference?” my caller asked me. “Yes, I said,”…without the slightest hesitation.

Yes! I said,” without the slightest hesitation, and I smiled. 


Though born in the US, I spent my childhood in that beautiful City of Lights, called Paris, France. And, great French architecture is one of my many design passions.

My gentleman caller described a magnificent vision for a new home, soaring in scale, authentic in classic design details, materials and craftsmanship, inspired by many years of vacationing in majestic France, where he and his wife had vacationed for each of the last 25 summers.  He now wanted to capture those transforming experiences that shaped so deeply who they had now become, that gave birth to his deep love for post-impressionist art and the wines of southern France. It was the transcendent qualities that he appreciated so much in the architecture of Paris, and he wanted to bring them home permanently.

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

…That day, as we traded our fondest memories of France, he decided to place his trust in me, to carefully conceive, design and build his long deferred dream for this deeply personal architecture, to express and embody his life journey.

Today, peace reigns over his dream home, as it stands fully realized in a tranquil garden, shaped in every detail and nuance by the finest master artisans and craftsmen. His love of the fine arts shine in the rare Nabis paintings and Degas sculptures that ornament the rooms. His and his wife’s love of Paris, for each other and for their amazing life story, is recalled in every room and detail in some way.  Their home feels transcendent…because in a real sense it is. The authenticity of its architecture, gardens, interior design, furnishings, and in the powerful story it tells us about life is seamlessly integrated. It is beautiful to behold and experience. It is a home that celebrates family, close friends and special guests, accomplishment and a remarkable journey.

Are you a high achiever with a dream?

 What Do You Want to Build?

Are you like my visionary client?  Are you an accomplished high achiever, committed to winning at work and changing the world, and just as important – choosing to live life more deeply? Do you long to experience a meaningful life, connecting across generations into the ideas and experiences that moved the ancients, that still call forth to the present? Do you want to immerse yourself in the aesthetic transcendence of platonic beauty, in art and enduring architecture.?

As you have worked and traveled around the world, you have seen amazing architecture conceived and built by powerful visionaries in the past. Their work stands for something much deeper and lasting in life, was well-built, and endures as a meaningful testimony to their lives, values and ambitions. Perhaps it is time for you to commission powerful architecture of your own, something distinguished, personal and refined. In fact, a quiet internal voice has been pressing you forward, to this undertaking for quite some time now. Your friends have said that at your deepest you are a builder, of people, enterprises, and things of significance.

Maybe it’s time to build something lasting and significant, a personal statement, a new place to exist and inhabit the world – a fine permanent home – your unique place in the world.

But, do a few things 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 have all felt this way at times.

I know How You Feel

For years, like many, I ran like a hamster on the success treadmill, moving my young family from city to city, and house to house as my career evolved. And those many career moves were often at the expense of what mattered most to me, my deep faith and family.

Eventually, when I settled down as the CEO of my own expanding architectural practice, I finally faced the reality that I needed to change. So I began to delegate as much as I could and immerse myself where I was uniquely able to make the most impact for my clients, in my designs and care for them. It was hard to do, but I became a more centered person, and closer in my relationships with my family, friends, health, and spiritual journey. Today I am more intentional, focused on what matters, both in relationships and the architectural designs I create.

I Want Something for You

If you are ready, I want something really new for you, something quite important. As your trusted advisor, I want to help you refine and express your dream of a fulfilled life through a one-of-a-kind high quality work  architecture, that embodies your personal story of achievement in stone, bronze and glass. Such architecture will serve as sign and personal legacy to your descendants, and will substantially raise your social influence as it enables you to help others flourish in a new way, opening a way for you to  finally become the free agent, fully actualized person you dreamed of years ago.

If that vision resonates with you, then you are the kind of person I do my best work with.

Imagine how it would feel…to fully embrace your unique life story and growing impact in this way, to invest in this vision with a new clarity, courage and commitment; to create a better life for you and those you love the most.

I can help you do that.  And honestly, it will transform your life.


The creation of such a vision starts with a careful, creative, iterative design process. When the creative direction becomes fully visualized and crystallized, in its scope and detail, probable costs can be clarified. As that work is under way, opportunity lost costs must be a consideration too. Balancing vision versus costs is a part of the design process. Many a leader has hesitated, and regretted ignoring the call of a vision in their heart. 

Decisive Action

I hope you will take action. Start the creative process. If you delay, do you really think you will ever face an opportunity such as this again, to turn this page in your life?

Perhaps we will meet some day. Then, you will tell me about your dream, about the world you want to live in, the world that really should be!

The ball is in your court. To do some big picture strategic thinking, go here now.

– Daniel Lee






  • 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 poet, and lives and works in historic Alexandria, Virginia.

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"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