It started at birth when the doctor did not know it was going to be twins. First Faith was born, then… Surprise! There is another baby here. A big April Fools! joke on the doctor who was expecting the birth of a single baby. In addition to celebrating their birthday on April 1st, identical twins, Faith and Hope Zimmerman will be celebrating the 25 year anniversary of their business, Zimmerman Architects. This is very fitting for a day when we typically celebrate the unconventional and the unexpected. Faith and Hope are women architects who have their own practice, which they built from the ground up. This is rather unusual with only 19% of licensed architects being women and even fewer heading up their own firm. And here there are two of them, identical twins, working together.
Hope & Faith are successful Architects, helping hundreds (thousands?) of people to transform their lives by transforming their surroundings. Last year, drawing on the wisdom gained from 24 years in business, they realized something was missing from the process most architects follow. All of Zimmerman Architects’ projects now start with a Design Consultation and Feasibility Study prior to moving to full design explorations.
Often, when people first seek out an architect, they don’t really know what they want. They sometimes have a vague sense of what they might possibly do. They feel trapped in their space and can’t solve this on their own. So the Zimmermans now offer a Design Consultation to help them figure it out; to figure out the reason behind it, the why. Asking questions, questions, questions. And then more questions. All to figure out the real reason for actually doing the project. Perhaps it’s to have a place to socialize with their friends, spend time with their kids, provide a place where their kids’ friends can hang out, provide a safe place for their little kids to play, they long for more family time - shared experiences with their children before they move out. Or sometimes it’s a place of refuge; privacy without isolation. Faith and Hope really listen to their clients. They have been told by many clients that, “you read my mind”. They listen to what their clients say, even when it’s just an off-hand comment or muttered wish. Their goal is to get inside their clients’ heads and see what makes them tick. “When designing someone's dream house, it is not your dream house. It is their dream house.” It touches your soul. It affects how you feel every single day.
Imagine doing full design; maybe even Construction Drawings, only to discover you can’t do the project because you can’t afford it or there are legal restrictions that make it impossible to build as designed. You’ve probably paid a lot of money – all for a project that will never be built. And even worse, you’ve fallen in love with it. So then comes the heart wrenching reality that your dreams are being ripped out from under your feet and disappearing from view. By doing the Feasibility Study first, Zimmerman Architects helps to avoid this pain.
For many people, the prospect of doing a construction project is daunting, even downright scary. They want handholding during the bidding & contractor selection, guidance through the entire construction process. They want to know that their architect, their trusted advisor, isn’t going to abandon them once it starts getting messy; that they will be there on site to help with any questions & issues that arise. Faith and Hope now offer full concierge services giving their clients peace of mind which allows them to sit back and enjoy the experience, and to ensure the outcome of the project is awesome.
There are many people whose lives Hope and Faith have transformed by helping them transform their house.
- There is the client who had an aging mother who could no longer live totally on her own. So they built an In-Law Suite so that Mommy would have her privacy and independence, but still be close by when she needed assistance. In the future, the suite will be converted into the offices of the business that is currently being run out of a rather small converted attic.
- There is the client who has a severely handicapped son with limited mobility. As a small child, he could be bathed in a regular tub with a special seat, but as he grew, it was getting too difficult to lift him into and out of the tub. So the bathroom was totally reconfigured and rebuilt with a large roll-in shower and dual shower heads to accommodate a person in a wheelchair and an assistant who could help without getting drenched.
- There is the client who had a windowless, isolated kitchen that they hated to use. So the kitchen was reconfigured and redone. By adding windows on the outside wall and repurposing an unused corner nook in the adjacent family room by opening the upper portion of the wall for a breakfast bar with seating, the kitchen was completely transformed into a bright space that was now connected to the family room as well as to the deck and to nature beyond.
- There is the client who had a family of five all cramped into a small two-bedroom ranch. They were all on top of each other with no way to get away or find any privacy or alone time. So a second story was added to give them more space and privacy and the first floor was reconfigured to be more suitable for “family time” and social gatherings.
- There is the client who hated what her house looked like. Although the neighborhood and property were nice, the house itself was a bit of a dog. So it was given a facelift along with some modifications to the interior to fix some design flaws. Now everyday when she drives up she says, “I Love My House!”
Zimmerman Architects clients appreciate and value good design. They are ready for change. They are aware of their surroundings. They know they can’t do it themselves. Typically they are open to new ideas with a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook. Their goal is to have harmonious life. As Hope and Faith say, “Nothing is more rewarding than having a client tell us, “I love my house!” or “What an improvement this project has made to our quality of life!”” Many of their clients give them a hug instead of a handshake when the project is done. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Double the Fun!
People are always fascinated with identical twins working together. "There are definitely Hope's projects or my projects, but there is also definitely a collaborative effort on all projects," Faith Zimmerman said. "That helps with quality control and bringing it up to the next level. Getting a second pair of eyes on it always helps." Twins. Twice the design input; two for the price of one. “And no, there isn’t a third named Charity; but yes, we do accept it” they say with that twinkle in their eyes.
Paying it Forward
The Zimmermans also make it a practice to give back to the community and were humbled to receive the Denville Chamber of Commerce 2011 Volunteers of the Year Award. They sponsor many local kids’ sports teams, swing hammers in Habitat for Humanity builds and give talks to local scouts and school groups. Their five kids have also been in on the volunteering. “For many years, we helped put up the large candy canes in downtown Denville at Christmas time. Many of the Chamber members recall our children out there as toddlers helping out as best they could.” Hope and Faith also support green architecture and have appeared on TV discussing the issue. They have been honored for their advocacy for women, being honored by groups such as the NJ Association of Women Business Owners and Project Self-Sufficiency. Besides speaking engagements and community outreach for young girls, Zimmerman Architects has also been involved in job shadowing and mentoring programs for female high school and college students looking to explore the architectural field.
Building With Hope & Faith
People who seek out Zimmerman Architects do so because they value excellence and know that their design work is both practical and inspired. Zimmerman Architects are featured speakers who show people why good design is important, how it can make a difference. They teach people that their house, their surroundings, can totally affect their life, their spirit, their emotional well being.