about dhd
Our intent is to provide intelligent direction for our clients that will create both value and beauty. "For men and women, the challenge lies in changing the perception of the architect. Architecture is never a solo act." - From Francine Houben, founding partner of Mecanoo
  • DHD Architecture and Design is a versatile practice that encompasses residential, commercial, retail and hospitality projects, with full service capabilities in ground-up architecture, site development, interior design, and fine art consulting. DHD maintains a diverse portfolio of work in New York as well as internationally, including an active practice in New Zealand that reflects principal David Howell’s creative ties to his home country.

    The philosophy of DHD begins with a commitment to outstanding service. Design excellence involves a deep understanding and development of our clients’ aspirations for their projects, as well as a thoughtful fulfillment of their real budgetary and scheduling goals. From early conceptual and planning stages through to construction documents and administration, our intent is to provide intelligent direction for our clients that will create both value and beauty. We focus on collaboration with all of the partners in the process, so that the design experience is transparent, responsive, foresighted, and flexible.

    The design foundation of the office is modernistic – an approach both naturalistic and modern that combines elemental and ecological forms with a minimized, sculptural architectural imprint. While we begin no project with a preconceived style, we do aim to instill spaces with certain principles: an appropriate bridging of indoors and outdoors; a wise and atmospheric use of light as a fundamental part of architecture; a sympathy for site and origin; an exciting use of materials; a marriage of the organic with the common and industrial. And in all of our work, we believe in peeling away generalized expectations to reveal a true sense of the occupant’s personality or the company’s brand, in a form that is elegant, joyful, and sustainable.

    Our team of 17 designers has end-to-end experience in the complex process of building in urban settings as well as in the particular requirements of working with clients and companies abroad. We offer a skilled hand in the restoration of historical buildings, and we are expert at retrofitting modern systems while preserving original structures.
  • David Howell has a 25-year background as an architect and designer. A native of New Zealand, he was trained at the University of Auckland, where he received a Bachelor of Architecture degree with honors. He is a registered architect in the state of New York and in New Zealand, and he is a member of the American Institute of Architects as well as the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

    Howell established his first solo architecture practice in Auckland in 1990. He relocated to New York City in 1992 after receiving a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand grant. He served with Clodagh Design International before founding DHD Architecture and Design in 1995.

    As envisioned from its beginnings, DHD has always been a special cross-cultural meeting ground, and Howell has served as a mentor bridging the American and Antipodean design communities. His work is distinguished by this pairing of distinct philosophies from two hemispheres, where the towering history of New York and America’s manifold architectural traditions merge with the indoor-outdoor living, modern idioms, and relaxed environmental design common to New Zealand and Australia. “Those of us from that part of the world, I think we have a different energy and autonomy. We've learned to bring ideas from the edge to the centre. Architecture becomes a practical, hands-on job as much as an artistic one. Boots and all, we will do anything.” Howell’s diverse experience shows in the range of his assignments, on landmark building restorations and loft conversions; office, restaurant and store designs; and private homes all over the globe. His approach is open, lively, and inventive; yet it is always perceptively local.

    David Howell has been recognized with numerous awards and his work appears in many national and international publications. He has been exhibited widely in both New York and New Zealand. He lives in Manhattan and the Catskills with his family.
  • DHD Commercial Client List
    (Private clients not listed)
    American Craft Council
    Badgley Mishka
    Basile Builders Group
    Barbara Corcoran
    Bezos/Nathanson Marketing Gp.
    Bug Editorial
    Clifford PR
    Corcoran Group
    East West Bookstore
    Fahrenheit 212
    Global Media Services
    Interbrand Wood Healthcare
    L Hostel
    Landbrot Bakery
    Liz Claiborne
    Media Storm
    New York Photo Festival
    Organic Works
    Powerhouse Books
    RCM Clothing
    Rock and Republic
    Saatchi &Saatchi
    Savarona Restaurant
    Servilles Salon
    Space Salon
    Sweeney Vesty
    DHD Residences in New York40 Fifth Avenue
    30 Crosby Street
    1 Fifth Avenue
    Walker Tower Penthouse
    One Madison Avenue
    MOMA Tower
    San Remo
    106 Central Park South
    1030 Fifth Avenue
    730 Park Avenue
    880 Fifth Avenue
    Wikapogue Road – Southhampton
  •  alt= Steffani Aarons is a Principal Designer and Partner at DHD Architecture and Design, where she has developed the interior design practice since 2001. Prior to joining DHD, she served as Partner at Clodagh Design in New York.

    In her work for both residential and commercial projects, Steffani utilizes textures, materials, color, and furniture to create a story which completes an overall design experience. She also specializes in the selection of art and accessories, special passions that she loves to bring to her assignments. Her approach mirrors the philosophy of DHD, where collected art and carefully curated objects add the layers needed in a home or public space to make it truly cultivated and whole.

    Steffani’s longtime tenure with Clodagh Design, first as a designer and then as entrepreneur of the studio’s brand licensing division, gives her a unique perspective on both interior conception and creative project management. These experiences help her today to bring people together toward common goals with respectful, productive, and efficient communication. As an advocate for her clients, Steffani focuses on relationships in order to establish a design direction that is true to each person’s vision and style. Always sensitive to individual needs and a careful guide through the process of construction and installation, she is known for her supportive, collaborative approach. She enjoys building longtime associations and frequently works on multiple homes for clients throughout the US.
  • p_yeongfinal2 Yeong Eun Kim
    p_steven Steven Wakenshaw, R.A.
    p_sarah2 Sarah Keane
    p_samantha Samantha Burkett
    p_roger Roger Wilson
    p_melissanew Melissa Pinto
    p_larassa1 Larissa Jimenez
    p_joannenew Joanne Oropeza
    p_jill Jill Diamant
    p_jennifer Jennifer Nobile
    p_emily Emily Radomski
    p_emilee Emilee Pearson
    p_daniel Daniel Kraffczyk
    p_brook Brooke McGowan
    p_annabelle Annabelle Su
    p_steffaninew1 Steffani Aarons
    p_david David Howell R.A.
  • "I used David Howell as my designer, as I had done for Framestore’s New York office. David has an understanding of how to evolve our branding to give a refreshing twist for the LA office. When you walk through the front door, you feel like you’re in Framestore. If you were to put the four locations side by side, they would all look different, but they are all very much a part of the same family." - Jon Collins, President of Integrated Advertising Worldwide for Framestore

    "Hi David! I have thanked Melissa over and over! The house looks amazing. We wanted to let you know that we are sooooo happy and thank you all for everything!!!! Melissa has been absolutely terrific! We love everything and the installation that she and Jennifer did yesterday is absolute perfection!!!!!!!!" - Residential & Interiors client, NYC

    "Though there may have been a few minor hiccups as can be expected, we are all moved in here, and we are all thrilled with how the space turned out. I can already sense a positive shift in the energy and camaraderie within the company and we have also had a steady stream of visitors that, to a person, are blown away with how great our office looks and feels. So thank you to all of you for your creativity and diligence and perseverance in bringing this space to such magnificent life." - Commercial Client, NYC

    "I would like to thank you for all of your help--you and David have been great. I never expected that we would be able to do it all so quickly (relatively speaking) and that the place would turn out so beautifully. Quite honestly, I wanted you and David from day 1, but it worked out great because you did our interiors which was a dream come true for me! I am so happy." - Flatiron Loft client

    “Thanks Jill!  I couldn't be more excited myself! Love working with you guys -- really think this could be like a one of a kind place” - TriBeCa loft owner

    "I can’t say I have a 'type' but I did love your work at 2 Charlton – not just the style but also the smart efficiency of layout. There were 10 offers on that apt, and I attribute this success to your design. Congrats." - Client, NYC

    "Btw, house looks AMAZING!!!" -Client, Alta Ski House

    "I cannot recommend DHD highly enough! We had the most amazing experience working with them. We had a large gut renovation (to the studs) of a 9000 square foot home on the water, including interior and exterior work. Steffani Aarons was our interior designer and she nailed it! She understood everything we needed for our lifestyle and incorporated these elements into the design in the most stunning way. They managed the project seamlessly, making sure everything was completed on time and on budget! We love this house so much! And we loved working with DHD! We will use them for any other architecture/design project will have in the future!" - Client, Hampton Bays

    “We just sold our Bond St loft for a significant gain - thanks to you! “ -Bond Street Loft owner

    "Just a quick note to congratulate your San Miguel de Allende house, I saw it in Houzz . This is the most beautiful Mexican-contemporary style I have found. I am Mexican and I think it is great that a foreign architect has put the best of our Mexican background into this project. I wish all of our local architects could think/work like you. Congratulations." - Note from viewer on Houzz

    "Have to say – Love your work – Very impressive. Some of the best interiors I have seen for some time." - NYC Designer and Stylist

    "Ben - Your presentation today was both beautiful and moving! I do not know from where you drew your inspiration, but it truly inspired me!" - Client, NYC

    re: Casa San Miguel de Allende - “The house is a triumph. Clean, thoughtful, and contextual. Your use of the local materials and textures on the clarity of the forms is a knockout! Congratulations and blessings.” – Clodagh, Interior Designer

    "I am extremely thankful for all the help you have given and the professional manner in which you work." - Brooklyn Homeowner

    "For our entire family, I wanted to thank you and everyone at DHD for the tremendous refurbishment of this prewar apartment. In particular, we want to express our appreciation for Jill's professionalism and skill in marshalling and managing all of the various moving parts to accomplish the renovation process in such an expeditious and efficient fashion. We are extremely happy with the performance of your entire team and the results." - Client, New York, NY

    "I actually got a peek inside Crosby just before move-in day, as I happened to swing by the building to say hey to Paula as an army of people were putting the final touches on the project. I couldn't turn down an invitation to poke around and it looked amazing. I hope no babies spit up on the leather floor, but that's just the world I live in. ;) Ben: We are so pleased with our house, nearly 2 years (!) in. Really excellent work." -Client, New York, NY

    “I stopped by the apt again today. It really is starting to look stunning. You'll have to sign it somewhere once it's done as a David Howell masterpiece!” - Client

    "Though there may have been a few minor hiccups as can be expected, we are all moved in here, and we are all thrilled with how the space turned out. I can already sense a positive shift in the energy and camaraderie within the company and we have also had a steady stream of visitors that, to a person, are blown away with how great our office looks and feels. So thank you to all of you for your creativity and diligence and perseverance in bringing this space to such magnificent life. If there is ever anything I can do for any of you, don’t hesitate to let me know. And I hope we all stay in touch going forward. Thank you again” – Client

    “I’m a real estate professional, and I've been involved in 25 projects with David over the past decade. He’s the only person I’d hire. I have recommended David to three different clients—all to rave reviews!” - Client

    “The walls and the whole design you came up with for the shows is spectacular. My heart soared the minute the first walls went up. The work looks SO good against the bamboo. The walls define the space in a wonderful way. I am thrilled with them—as are the artists. Bravo on the design of the exhibit. You brought it all together and gave it a classy elegance.” -Kathy Ryan, Photo Editor, The New York Times Magazine

    “Hello David. All the kitchens are done and I’d like to say thanks. Your involvement added tremendous value to my project…the kitchens are a huge hit. I just wish I had DHD involved from the beginning.” -Client “{…} We are THRILLED with our house. When we first bought this place, Sandy was truly alarmed by its tired drabness—the dirty carpets, the moldy smell—but buried his dismay to make me happy. Now he sees what a Brooklyn brownstone can be! What a vast improvement, and largely due to you two. First of all, the house works: it has good HVAC, a sturdy new stair, a fortified structure, an up-to-date wiring/communications system, a usable basement, etc. Second, it functions: we created a musical teaching studio for Sandy, a real master suite, my office, a kid floor, and a guests suite, all well-arranged. And last, it has just the feel I wanted, fresh and lovely, modern but warm, a house that reflects us and our time but also its’ long, fascinating history—a real Brooklyn oasis. The master suite in particular is a dream come true, serene and sensual, a calm retreat from the happy chaos of family life.

    Our most sincere thanks to you, David, for your vision, talent, and calm problem-solving. You are a truly talented designer and very professional. I admire how efficient you are in analyzing a problem and how often you come up with out-of-the-box solutions. You are also a lovely, unpretentious person in a field rife with phonies, especially in NY. Equal thanks to you, Jill, for your competent and very patient management. You too are very professional, and very adept at juggling client, vendor, and contractor demands, as well as coordinating schedules and tracking down costs. You also have great taste—I came to really rely on you in choosing fixtures etc. All in all I couldn't have asked for much more from an architecture firm.” - Client, Brooklyn, NY

    “What had been a bland, predictable arrangement was turned on its head.” - New York Times, "Using Wood to Define an Open Space" June 2007

    "Holy crap did you design that?  Every time I go in there (W. Village) I admire the details.  The herringbone bar, and the logo branded on the wood are just great.  I've been meaning to ask who designed it!" - Fan of Landbrot Bakery

    “I walked away with your floor plan in mind. I think it is a smart and clever solution and it is a pleasure to know you as a talented architect. You have handled the space we used to call home in such a brilliant manner.” - Client, New York, NY

    “Jill & Hannah have been very knowledgeable and on target with design work.” - Client

    "Kevin, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your level of communication. I actually feel that way about everyone at DHD, but since you are like the lead office orchestrator, I'm sending this to you!" - Client

    “You know I love working with you too, David! From day one, you got what we are about and how to work the budget without compromising quality.” -Commercial Client, New York, NY

    “I wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I have been a huge fan of your work for a while now. Your work converses in a language where words do not have enough meaning to express what your architecture and interior design do with one viewing. Your work simply resonates with me.” - International artist

    "I hosted a party here the other night for all the LS Class Reps and everyone loved the apartment!!  I sang your praises." - Client

    "B and I agreed finding a place is the hardest thing we have ever done! We had some bad luck on that Loft! But I love the idea of working with you on a Hamptons House. All the best David and thanks again for all your help." - Client

    "If you trust
    I trust
    You're the man" - Client

    “This house has been a life changer for the girls mate -you/Steffani are rock-stars for doing that for us…. Might have to repeat the trick again for us in NZ in a couple years...”

    "Hi David - we finally moved in this week.  All still a bit chaotic but getting there.  Wanted to let you know that Larissa, Melissa, Kathy and the whole team did a phenomenal job.  Their responsiveness and attention to detail has been outstanding, and amount they’ve gotten done over past couple of months is incredible.  It's been a great experience." - TriBeCa Loft owner

    "I stopped by apt. The moving of the tv unit a tad away from dishwasher and towards window is a game changer...it looks so great and the backboard for bed is awesome. Coming together!!!! I love it. Keep going!! Happy customer." - Client