Who: Andre Tschelistcheff Architects
Where: Rhinebeck and New York City
What: New Construction and Renovation for Residential, Commercial, and Hospitality Projects
It took me years to develop a practice that wasn’t pigeon-holed into a style, like a character actor,” says Andre Tchelistcheff, founder of SoHo-based Andre Tchelistcheff Architects. “The work of my firm spans historic restoration, new classically based designs, and contemporary work.”
The child of Russian emigres, California-born Andre grew up in the Middle East and Asia. In addition to the cultural and stylistic fluency these formative years abroad lend to his work, Andre’s professional experiences outside the architecture field have enriched his perspective on design and architecture. After graduating with a Bachelor of Art in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley, Andre worked for five years as a carpenter, giving him a practical, first-hand understanding of building. And after receiving his Masters of Architecture at MIT, he worked with a classically trained decorator, which helped him learn how to create beautiful, livable interiors.
“All of my initial plan sketches are illustrated with furnishings, so one understands the scale and can better envision living in the space,” says Andre. A stalwart advocate for hand drawing, he sketches every residential project—from the floor plan and elevation down to the molding details—on paper. “Hand drawing allows for participation. You can sit there with the client and erase and make changes on the spot,” he says. “A house presented in CAD seems so like a finished product, but with a pencil drawing, there is this sense that there is room for input, it’s still malleable.”
No matter the project, Andre works collaboratively with clients to extract a vision that meets their needs while being harmonious with the setting. “Context is pretty big to me; that comes from years of living in countries that abandoned their cultural contexts and went for Western Modernist concepts that were inappropriate, in particular environmentally,” he says. “At times there is a discussion about appropriateness; of what may or may not work within a given context. It doesn’t need to be the same, but there should be some sense of continuity or a clearly defined intentional break of context.”
Andre Tchelistcheff Architects has a comprehensive concept of context that folds in everything from topography and typology to culture, nature, and climate to create spaces that are encompassing of these aspects yet delightfully individual.