In architectural design circles, South Vancouver Island resident William Edward Summers is recognized for his large-scale custom houses and country retreats, which emphasize ultra-comfort, enhanced security and the use of nontoxic materials. His commercial design skills are best showcased in artistic high-concept projects. Summers counts among his clients a former member of the German parliament, figure skating champions, a concert pianist, a well-known movie star, old San Francisco families, and trend-focused commercial developers, all of whom are drawn to Summers’ unique ability to synthesize the aesthetic of the past with the artistic exploration and complex technical requirements of today’s buildings.
Summers’ design style is influenced by his childhood growing up in a picturesque Midwestern college town filled with New England-style heritage architecture, where his family has lived since the Civil War. He carried his appreciation of the architectural imperatives of previous generations with him to California, where his design business flourished.
Working and living in one of his “rehabbed” Victorian buildings in the South of Market neighbourhood, Summers’ design expertise w on him such challenging projects as designing the prototypes for a new log house company; creating a custom plan for a house on a 2,000-acre ranch in the Napa Valley; design consulting for houses throughout California in areas such as San Francisco, Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe and Silicon Valley; as well as designing various commercial projects, restaurants, retail stores and several South of Market clubs in San Francisco’s SOMA, and Mission districts.
What Summers brings to each project is a sophisticated understanding of complex building codes, zoning issues, heat loss/gain requirements, seismic conditions and aesthetic orientations. This is expertise that can only be gained through years of experience designing projects in two countries and many municipalities, each with its own unique building restrictions.
When Summers first came to British Columbia in the early 1990s, he was captivated by the civility of the people, the low crime rate and the beautiful, uncrowded and relatively unspoiled environment. He was also impressed by the way the area was quickly transforming itself into a major world center. It was clearly an exciting place to be for an innovative designer with a wealth of experience and new ideas.
Since venturing north two years ago, Summers has provided design consulting for such projects as an 18,000-sq.-ft. residence near Seattle; a high-end residential subdivision overlooking Puget Sound in suburban Seattle; several large ocean-front houses on Vancouver Island; and a 10,000-sq.-ft. house in the Lower Mainland which received notice in The Vancouver Sun and the Victoria Times Colonist. In a more eclectic vein, Summers has also created a video presentation for Benetton as part of “Design Week Vancouver,” participated in the City of Vancouver’s City Plan program, and was the space planner and exhibit design consultant for the Canadian Craft Museum’s exhibit “Festive Treasures.”
Currently, Summers is providing design consulting for an apartment complex in eastern Canada as well as several projects in British Columbia., and is assisting the Cowichan Community Land Trust with exhibit design for one of their projects.
In addition to these, and other projects, Summers is re releasing a newly digitized film that he created, promoting a new a design called “The Vancouver Island Special” which is an excerpt from his upcoming book, and setting up a scholarship fund. Believing that his design abilities do not exclude other art disciplines, Summers is interested not only in looking to the past, but in generating new ideas through art as well as design. His is a constantly evolving style based on the juxtaposition and transformation of the classical and the experimental—a remarkably intriguing approach.