Next-Gen Design

Architect Steffani Drass Designs Homes With Modern Warmth

Drass is among the few women who is a lead architect and founder of her own firm in Sarasota.

By Kim Doleatto May 24, 2023

Steffani Drass, lead architect and owner of Trop Architecture.

Trop Architecture

Steffani Drass, 41
1348 Fruitville Road, Suite 304, Sarasota

Originally from Wisconsin, Steffani Drass has lived in Sarasota for almost 20 years, with more than 17 years of working experience in the Gulf Coast community. She weighs the impact on the environment when approaching projects, which are mostly residential but sometimes include commercial work like offices and restaurants. Her six-year-old firm touches on everything from site selection to construction administration and furniture choices. Her aesthetic is what she calls “organic modern,” and it caught our attention before when we wrote about this stunner on Lido Shores. Of the younger area architects we've profiled for the Next-Gen Architects series, she’s the only sole woman lead architect and owner of her own firm called Trop—pulled from the word "tropical."

How would you describe your style?

“We like clean lines but stay away from stark or sterile," Drass says. "I like to use a lot of natural materials and soft neutrals, with lots of texture. The home should honor nature as much as possible with indoor and outdoor connections. We love raw concrete, cypress and coralina stone for soft warmth."

Interior of a Bird Key home by TROP Architecture.

Has your age or gender been an issue in your industry? 

"It's an asset, actually—it has never been a hindrance," Drass says. "I'm often dealing with women clients, and we talk about how they'd like to use the kitchen and we come at things with usability and efficiency in mind. I think it also adds an ease to communication throughout the process."

The exterior of a four-bedroom, six-bathroom home designed by TROP Architecture.

What are some of the challenges facing your industry?

"Environmental sensitivity," Drass says. "Keeping the bay clean by considering proper drainage at the site, for example. Getting people to understand that we're all responsible for the environment and we all face that challenge in design with the client. It influences all the choices when you design the home as far as where you source the materials. Doing it ethically can be a challenge sometimes, because many want the least expensive material. Every facet of what we do has to be researched, and part of that is also educating the client."

Bringing the outdoors in with lots of terrace space and shade.

What's a trend you're seeing?

"The demand for flexible spaces. Work-from-home solutions, not just for residents but for guests too," Drass says.

"Guest homes are more popular because clients would like to host them, but also keep them at arm's length," she continues. "Aging in place and multigenerational living is also big, so we're designing a home that will last through in-home care, potentially, and answer questions like 'Where might a live-in nurse sleep?' Aging in place also means more safety considerations, like flush transitions, wider door frames, and elevators. Lots of empty nesters are designing for their grandkids, too. We've moved on from, 'We're 65 and we want our dream home' to a more all-encompassing approach. Now, we're designing for 0 to 100."

Pools are fun for all ages.

What's an architecture trend you love less?

"Thoughtless design," Drass says. "There's a lot going up that's just not pretty. There's a lot of good but equally a lot of bad architecture that just isn't informed and you can see that with poor proportions, material choices and environmentally insensitive choices like poor drainage systems."

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