Next-Gen Design

Meet the Power Couple Reimagining Modern Architecture

Architect Daniel Lear and realtor Victoria Lear of Lear Studio bring Sarasota School of Architecture style into today's builds.

By Kim Doleatto May 18, 2023

Victoria Lear and her husband, architect Daniel Lear, of Lear Studio Architecture & Design.

Lear Studio Architecture & Design

Daniel Lear, 34, and Victoria Lear, 34

2311 Constitution Blvd., Sarasota

This young power couple is married in more ways than one. Daniel is the architect, and Victoria is a real estate agent with Michael Saunders & Company. They both run Lear Studio and they recently had a daughter, which was one of the reasons they opted to work together. This way, “[our daughter] can be with me at the studio,” Victoria says. 

Before starting the firm, which focuses mostly on residential projects, Daniel Lear worked with local architectural firm Solstice Planning and Architecture on the St. Armands Parking Garage, which earned a sustainability award from the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects in 2022. He also worked on projects with DSDG Architects, another local firm. We caught up with the Lears to learn more about their approach—and how age and family play out in the business.

The couple is finishing up their own home design in Sarasota.

How would you define your style?

“We love looking at Japanese, Polynesian and other tropical places where they’ve been dealing with humidity and climate for a long time," Victoria says. "Daniel spent time in Japan and saw how the Japanese integrated the indoors and outdoors, which the Sarasota School of Architecture also embraced. But back when they did it, they didn't have the same materials we do today. Revisiting that with the newest techniques and natural materials is interesting, because I think some of those early designs were held back. We like to work with materials that work well in this climate, and avoid imitations."

Bird Key waterfront home built with cast-in-place concrete.

Has being younger ever affected your practice?

 “Coming from Boston, we felt older," Victoria says. "But here, we started getting carded at the bar. I do think there’s a little struggle in the construction industry. I think you have to be very much a team player and you have to adjust if you haven't worked with the contractor before."

“On the job, site subs and contractors may look at you like you don't know what you’re doing when you’re younger," Daniel adds. "But when we network with clients, they embrace our age. Even when you're dealing with the older guard, it just takes proving you know what you’re talking about."

A Siesta Key home on Commonwealth Drive designed by Lear Studio.

What’s a trend you’re seeing in the industry?

“I think it’s an exciting time since there’s been a revitalization of the Sarasota School of Architecture through Sarasota Mod and Architecture Sarasota [a local nonprofit dedicated to honoring Sarasota's architectural legacy and future]. Any time there’s a new style, there will be builders who try to mimic it. But I think people are shying away from the white boxes that are like museums," Daniel says. 

“There’s a trend toward resiliency. Planning for hurricanes and the fact that they're getting stronger is a challenge, because it affects the freedom with the design and makes us seek out ways to be more creative,” Daniel says. But, adds Victoria, “the best design can come from the most restrictive rules."

A client home on Florida Drive on Philippi Creek in Sarasota.

What’s a trend you love less?

“The white stucco box," Daniel says. "The thing about modern architecture is that things have been oversimplified, so it gets built cheaply, but when you build in that style there has to be better finishing because it won’t be gussied up with crown molding and orange peel. It was thought modern style is simple and so it can be cheap. But it has to be executed with a high level of quality since it won't have those embellishments. I don't love the maximized footprint of many new places going up."

“You live in Florida to enjoy the outside. If you build to the limit of your area, and sacrifice your landscaping, you suffer," he continues. "When you open your sliders and see outside, it makes the home feel much bigger." 

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