Details get Chris’s attention, whether he’s listening to music or working with clients on museums or archives. Chris finds inspiration in subtleties, he says, be it "a striking image or a piece of music—anything that changes, or evolves, or reveals new things each time you experience it." Those observational skills are a fine complement to his architectural talents. Leading the Cultural Practice for SmithGroup, Chris has to balance the big ideas and the tiny details to create architecture that has the capacity to deliver those layers of experience. Chris jokes that "I’m continually surprised by my capacity to obsess over even the most unseen details of a project. But the fun lies in the power of details to reinforce big ideas." In the end, it’s truly understanding his clients that makes the difference. "The design solution that really makes a building work comes not just from understanding the client’s communicated needs, but also seeing firsthand how they do their work," he suggests. "Listening has to be supplemented with focused observation." That focus will no doubt come in handy if he ever gets the chance to pursue a hobby on his wish list: learning to play bluegrass mandolin.