Franklin Report Report Card for Virgil W. McDowell Inc. in Chicago
★ Franklin Report Card
Virgil W. McDowell Inc.
778 N. Green Bay Rd.
Lake Forest, IL 60045
(310) 459-8838
Main Contact: Virgil McDowell
Millwork & Cabinetry

Services & Specialties
Meticulously detailed, period architecture

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FR Review:
Impressed patrons tell us Virgil McDowell possesses an "almost innate and effortless" skill at recreating period architecture and classical design "without over-ornamentation." McDowell's creations include meticulous renovations of historic properties in styles such as English Georgian, Spanish Colonial, French country and Medieval Tudor. We hear McDowell's keen eye zeroes right down to the knobs and hinges, and he provides intricate design documents crafted entirely by hand.

McDowell's personalized attention and pride in the details make him a favorite among his well-heeled celebrity and entrepreneurial clients. On projects for which he manages the architecture, McDowell can also be enlisted to perform the decorating. It is important to note that while McDowell is not a licensed architect, legally (thus limiting him to projects of two stories plus basement in California) clients report that he is an experienced and talented draftsman who nonetheless manages the process with high marks. The firm most often works in Hancock Park, Bel Air, Holmby Hills and Hollywood Hills, but has completed homes in St. Louis and Chicago. McDowell generally accepts projects with budgets in the six figures, with architectural and interior design fees tallying up to a standard percentage.

McDowell grew up in the Watts neighborhood and is a true example of the American Dream. While attending Cal State at North Ridge on a football scholarship, he separated his shoulder and lost his scholarship. He went to work as a draftsman for a local architect and the rest is history. A self-educated devotee of the classical tradition, he has particular expertise in the American Renaissance (1880–1930) and was a draftsman for ten years before establishing this small firm of three in 1989. McDowell teaches classes to architects and interior designers at the Institute of Classical Architecture about classical installations.

Representative Client Comments:
"Virgil has the extraordinary ability to take our often poorly articulated concepts and transfer them into reality with a design, often on the first iteration." "You can't go to school to learn how to do his kind of work—you're either born with it or you're not." "Other architects can apply these classical techniques, but Virgil feels them. It's an emotional response that his architecture just feels right to him and to the client." "Virgil is so passionate about his craft." "I learned to trust his instincts and ignore my own, often misguided plans." "The result is astonishingly true to classical form."

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