Larry Boerder orders his favorite type of pencils from eBay because you can’t find them in stores anymore. He can rattle off the phone numbers of clients without checking his contact list. He uses an old-fashioned drafting table for his plans because, as he says, “I’ve never been very good with CAD.”
He’s an old-school architect who’s built his repertoire in and around the Park Cities. A North Dallas native, he felt the call to architecture at a young age; his father was an architect, and today his sister and brother-in-law are also architects.
“I was always exposed to it. There’s a picture of me at age 9 in my father’s office drawing,” he said.
Boerder was taught modernist architecture at the University of Texas in the 1970s. But when he graduated, like many new alumni, he was unsure of what he wanted to do.
“I graduated at the top of my class, but I really felt like I didn’t understand what I was doing,” he said.
Eventually, he found his passion in traditional-style architecture, which seemed to fit his other interests across the board.
“I didn’t think I’d become an architect; I thought I’d become a musician, and I’ve had several forays in that regard. But I’ve always needed to make a living, so fortunately that has remained an avocation for me,” he said. “I see a lot of tie-ins between music and architecture, actually.”
For example, he sees similarities between Baroque music and Baroque architecture — specifically, through elements such as ornamentation and structure.
His first major project came by way of a classical-style church, and by the 1980s, he was working on houses in the Park Cities — despite the fact that he was essentially self-educated in traditionalism.
Continuing his eye for artistic styles, Boerder still keeps detailed sketchbooks from his trips abroad including Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom — but each element he uses must respond appropriately to its environment.
“A clay-tile roof works in our climate because it naturally sheds heat,” he said. “That’s why you always see it in southern climates … it was invented by the Etruscans in Italy.”
This artistic bent continues to shape Boerder’s work and guide his relationships with clients. Lynn Muse has used Boerder’s skills on a number of projects for more than 20 years: a house on Beverly Drive, a house on Preston Road, a home in Colorado, and her office in the Design District.
As an interior designer herself, she’s able to recognize his imaginative eye — even in things beyond architecture.
“He’s an incredibly creative person,” she said. “He’s amazing on the piano. I think he has a repertoire of 1,600 songs. [With] his education and experience in classical architecture, I think he understands proportion.”
But it’s not just his creative expertise that keeps clients coming back.
“Larry was the last architect we interviewed for our project and he won the job in the first five minutes,” Shannon Gilliland said. “Larry, a true artist-scholar, understood and appreciated the project like no other.”
Even with all these combined elements, Boerder can boil it down pretty simply.
“My goal is to make a house that people will swear has always been there,” he said.