Architects Talking to Architects: Christopher L. Sanders, AIA

Christopher L. Sanders, AIA is founder and principal of Sanders Architecture in Austin and has worked on projects ranging from single-family homes and boutique retail to million-sf commercial, entertainment, and hospitality properties. He earned his Master of Architecture degree from Texas A&M University.

Hiking with my son – photo by Chris Sanders

Where did you grow up?

Lufkin, Texas, in the heart of the Piney Woods. Most of my weekends were spent in the forests of the Neches River bottom, or if it was summer, at my family's lake house on Lake Striker. Time spent outdoors with my family — camping, canoeing, hunting and fishing — is when I learned to appreciate nature and to begin to understand man's effect on the natural environment. East Texans rely on the forests for industry, and my family was no exception. Trying to come to terms with my love of the land and the use of forests for industry provided some of my earliest lessons in sustainability. 

Where do you turn for inspiration?

During my architectural education and in my professional career, I'm lucky to have lived and traveled in special places and to have worked for talented architects. I find that I draw from those past experiences for inspiration and motivation.

The city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort. I first visited India as an Edward J. Romieniec Traveling Scholar while a graduate student in 1995. My wife and I went back in 2003. – photo by Chris Sanders

Residential construction happened upon while trekkiing in Yunnan province, China. – photo by Chris Sanders

Do you have a particular sort or brand of pen that you prefer when sketching?

I prefer a pencil. A Dixon Ticonderoga No 2 on yellow trace.

If you could correct one misconception about architects, what would it be?

We're not good at math.

What is your favorite city to visit?

Split, Croatia. My first visit was on a quick solo trip through the Balkans in the winter of 2001. My initial reason to travel to the region was an intense curiosity about a part of the world that has experienced the overlap of cultures for centuries and was then recovering from the recent Balkan wars of the 1990s. In 2003, I managed to work in Split at the Mediterranean Centre for Built Heritage. The city of Split is built on the site of the Emperor Diocletian's third century retirement palace and is a living example of layer upon layer of history. Ultimately, though, it's our friendships in Split that keep us returning so frequently.

Split, Croatia from my office window at the Mediterranean Centre for Built Heritage. – photo by Chris Sanders

What community activities do you participate in?

I serve on the board of directors for the Waller Creek Conservancy and on the board of advisors for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Hannah and I are active participants at our neighborhood school, Lee Elementary.

Do you listen to music when designing? What kind? 

Typically, yes. Classical during working hours, but after the office clears out, I turn on Lyle Lovett, James McMurtry or Townes Van Zandt.

What is your drink of choice?

Too often, black coffee. My preferred cocktail is a Negroni.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. If you would like to join in this conversation and be featured in "Architects Talking to Architects," email