DesignSmiths Architecture is run by the husband-and-wife team of Peter and Charlotte Smith. Our studio combines our work experiences at firms in Australia, California, Chicago and Traverse City designing diverse project types and sizes, such as university campuses, warehouses, private houses, interiors and furniture. With our new venture, we want to continue to challenge ourselves with an eclectic array of architecture and design projects, applying knowledge gained from one scale and typology to another. We believe that architecture is not about creating a style, but creating a sincere sense of place. Every DesignSmiths project develops its own character through its users, materials and site.



Principal and founder of DesignSmiths Architecture, Peter Smith is a licensed Architect in the state of Michigan, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional and a member of the American Institute of Architects. Before establishing DesignSmiths Architecture, Peter worked at Holabird & Root in Chicago, one of the oldest architecture firms in the country, focusing on corporate, commercial, government and educational projects. He was a project architect at Michael Fitzhugh Architect in Traverse City where he worked on smaller scale residential and commercial projects. Last year he donated time with the Father Fred Foundation for their annual Canstruction fundraiser.

Peter earned a Bachelor’s in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master of architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. As a student he studied Architecture in Spain and Finland and was invited to attend the Glenn Murcutt Masterclass in Sydney, Australia. Peter’s introduction to design began with his Dutch grandfather, a landscape architect who regarded the landscape as a tool and not an obstacle. He instilled in Peter that all designs have a responsibility to their communities. During family vacations to Leland, Michigan he began to use sailing and boatbuilding as an outlets for his passion for design and construction.

He admires the work of Sverre Fehn and Alvar Aalto for their use of simple local materials and their timeless designs. Peter believes when environmental and social understanding is practiced, architecture can achieve a sincere sense of place and relevance.

Favorite Thing to Do in January: ski

Favorite Author: Ken Kesey

Favorite Space: Tadao Ando room at the Art Institute in Chicago

If I Had a Spare 20K I would: restore my wooden sailboat

Historic Home I Would Like to Call My Own: Farnsworth House

National Park I Would Love to Visit: Isle Royale

Favorite Food: Smoked Lake Trout from Carlsons Fishery

The Home I Grew up in: had the best tree house

As a Child I Wanted to Be: a tennis player

Dream Project: small museum





Prior to founding DesignSmiths Architecture, Charlotte worked for Scrafano Architects, Bruce Mau Design and SOM in Chicago, Peter Stutchbury Architects (latest recipient of Australia's Gold Medal for Architecture) in Sydney, Australia. She was involved in exhibit design, graphic design, commercial and residential architecture.

Charlotte earned a Bachelor in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado at Boulder and then traveled to Sydney, Australia to participate in the Glenn Murcutt Master Class. She has a Master in Architecture from the University of Michigan where she was a Genevieve Hafner Memorial Scholar. 

When Chicago was a candidate city for the 2016 Olympics, she helped develop the design of the Olympic Village. Working abroad at Peter Stutchbury Architecture was particularly influential to her understanding of architecture and design. She participated in innovative approaches to sustainability across community, industrial and residential projects. It taught her that good design can be accomplished under any constraint and should never be compromised. Her time in Australia also taught her the value of the basics: create a shelter, have a keen understanding of where the light and wind come from and always make time to have fun.


Design Heroes: Eileen Gray, Marc Newson, Louis Kahn

Favorite Food: tacos

Ongoing Obsession: Lake Michigan shipwrecks

Design Inspiration: boats and traveling

As a Child I Wanted to Be: a veterinarian and artist

Historic Home I Would Love to Call My Own: E1027 in Roquebrune-Cap Martin, France

Dream Projects: movie theatre, airport, firehouse, school, airline interior, library without books, rest stop, boat house, gas station, zoo for de-extinct animals, our kids' doctor's office, I could go on and on. I love designing and dreaming.

Favorite Quote: "Make it simple, but significant." –Don Draper

Perfect Sunday Morning: Our two boys sleeping in, really good coffee, waffles, The New York Times T Magazine, and Off Duty Section of the Wall Street Journal.