Atlanta architect Keith Summerour’s new book, Creating Home: Design for Living ($50, Rizzoli New York), is part coffee-table book, part design diary. Written in first person, the book offers readers an intimate view of Summerour’s design philosophy while swinging open the doors of nine of his most exceptional projects of the last decade—many of which are in the South. “Each of these houses is unique, almost a prototype with a unique character,” says Summerour, the principal of Summerour & Associates Architects. The most enthralling of the homes featured could arguably be Summerour’s own country home in rural Georgia, featuring a 70-foot stone tower.
“The idea originated when I was a child on my grandfather’s dairy farm in Perry County, Ala.,” recalls Summerour. “I would climb to the top of my granddad’s silos and look around at that vast landscape. I always remembered what a different perspective that was. Due to the time I’ve spent in Italy, I also learned about the concept of tower-living, which was prevalent in the Renaissance and Medieval eras, so I introduced that concept to [my] tower.”
With some 1,200 projects under his belt and an international design reputation, Summerour is worlds away from the fledgling student he once was at Auburn University. “My grades were terrible, but what I did have was a love of Star Wars. I had drawn the Millennium Falcon as a draftsman would draw it. I took it to the architecture department, and they loved it but said I had to get my grades up (which I did). Once I got into architecture I didn’t look back.”
Inspired by his clients, the world around him and his travels, Summerour finds a particular thrill in designing public spaces that incorporate great design with an incredible setting and a food or entertainment aspect. An upcoming project that epitomizes all three is Blackberry Farm’s five-star restaurant, Top of the Farm, which breaks ground this year. Designed primarily out of steel and glass, it incorporates a pre-existing 1930s fire tower—no doubt, a stunning marriage of architecture and food. How does it go? If you build it, they will come.
Originally published in the March issue of The Atlantan