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Interview with Principal Architect Marc Soloway, Founder of Soloway Designs from Tucson

Every project you make as an architect is to challenge the natural conditions of the region you are in. Marc Soloway has been challenging versus deserts since 1998 in Tucson, AZ.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Marc Soloway, Founder of Soloway Designs

Marc Soloway, Founder of Soloway Designs


by Meryem Aksoy

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Soloway Designs is a Tucson based Architecture and Interiors Design firm. Marc Soloway decided to be an architect in very early ages and he pursued his dream. And now, he has 21 years of experience that helps him to create dream houses for his clients. I asked Marc Soloway, Founder and Principal Architect of Soloway Designs, in order to learn more about his architectural career and basics of architectural projects. Enjoy this interview.

Marc, before talking about Soloway Designs Architecture + Interiors, could you tell us about yourself?

I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1998. During my schooling, I worked for multiple firms to gain the experience I needed.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in architecture? What inspired you?

Since I was a kid, I always liked to draw homes. My parents would buy me magazines that sold homes and I would first trace them and then moved onto drawing them freehand. As I got older (13’s), I started making up my own designs. I was born with the itch to be an architect. I never wanted to be anything else.

Soloway Designs

Soloway Designs Metz Desert Modern

How did you decide to establish your own firm? Could you tell us about Soloway Designs Architecture + Interiors and your Award-Winning team?

I started the firm in my 4th year of the architecture program with three friends. When we graduated, we had not made a lot of money to spread around so my three friends went their own ways to work for other firms. I had worked for plenty of firms and I wanted to give it a go on my own. I bought them out and the rest is history.

How could you define your architectural design approach?

I am an architect anomaly. I am very artistic with a type “A” personality which in architecture is a great combination. Typically you have one or the other. I have developed a great process that the clients love as it lets them become an integral part of the design. Because it is also systematic, the process is smooth, fun and without stress. My clients and I are always on the same page in regards to all aspects of the design so there are no surprises. The only surprise a client should get when the house is complete is that they thought the house was going to be amazing, but not this amazing.

What is your signature in your designs?

Clients love the flow and feel of our homes. They are extremely livable and every room has a spectacular view. The layout is designed in a way that maximizes every inch and angle of view possible.

Soloway Designs

Soloway Designs Meier Desert Modern

How do you make your homes Green? Could you briefly tell us about the importance of constructing Green Buildings?

We try to do as much green building as possible but ultimately it is up to the client to decide how far they want to go. Building green not only helps the user in usage costs but it also helps the environment.

What are the advantages of being an Award-Winning architect?

Although winning awards is great, you can only win awards if you submit for them. We haven’t submitted for many over the past 21 years because we would rather focus our time on our clients. The ones we have submitted for, we have won and it is wonderful knowing the architecture community respects and enjoys our work.

A lot of your projects have been featured in notable magazines. What do you feel when you see your artworks in magazine pages?

I am very modest so when I see something we have designed in magazines, it is such a good feeling. Whether it is a friend, a client, a neighbor, an award or a magazine, it is always great to hear that people love our work.

Soloway Designs

Soloway Designs

Which type of projects does Soloway Designs Architecture + Interiors specialize in? What type of services do you offer your customers?

We specialize in high-end custom residences although we also do some commercial work. We offer everything from architecture, interior design, renderings, animations, programming, cost estimation etc.

Where is the most popular location for new residential projects in Tucson?

In Tucson, it would be Stone Canyon, a very high-end golf course community with gorgeous desert vistas in every direction that include mountain ranges, rock outcroppings, downtown Tucson, golf course and tons of desert vegetation.

Is it still important to make cardboard models for your projects? Or do you use digitalization in every stage now?

We stopped about 2 years ago with the last subdivision stopped requiring them. We do a ton of renderings and animations to completely describe the project in every detail so the client understands every aspect of the home.

Do you offer turnkey projects to abroad customer? At which steps should your client have to be next to you after the first moment of the project?

We’ve done projects in Croatia and Egypt where we never met the client in person. We are extremely diligent about what we need to do and what we need to see. We instruct the client on videos and photos they need to take so we can a full understanding of the site. Nothing beats actually walking the site, but you can do a lot without it. If there is one time that I love being next to the client is when we walk the layout of the design and I can show them where the individual rooms will be and what views it will have.

How many months does it take to complete an average residential project?

It takes around 6 months for design and construction documents and depending on the size and complexity of the house, it could take anywhere from 10 months to 2 years to build.

Soloway Designs

Soloway Designs

What are the most important factors that affect the project cost?

Complexity and dynamics of the structure, how difficult the land is to excavate and design the home in and around and the interior design.

You have lots of completed and in-progress projects. Which one is your favorite?

I don’t think I have a favorite yet I love parts of different projects.

What would you recommend to customers who want to work with an architect to build their new home?

First and foremost, make sure they do their research on who they are hiring. Talk to contractors who have built their homes and talk to previous clients. Make sure they review what the architect is providing and compare apples to apples. I know in my experience, when this is done, clients realize how much we do compared to our others.

In your opinion, what is the relation between Low Budget - Short Project Time - High Quality? Is it possible to combine all in one project?

In today’s construction economy it is very tough to do things quickly. Every subcontractor is short staffed and thus construction timelines are ever increasing. With that said, you can absolutely design a beautiful, unique home on a low budget. It’s all about being creative with your money.

What is the best advice you have received, and what advice would you give to young architects?

Work for an architect during school to give you real-world experience and try to work for a smaller firm where you will see and experience how everything is done.

What is coming up next for you?

Although we don’t do a lot of commercial building, we are about to start a modern commercial building in Colorado that we are very excited about.

Thank you Marc.

For more information, please visit website of Soloway Designs