The Hollingsworth Group: Creating Hidden Works of Residential Art

Winter 2010 - Building a new custom home can be a challenge. Those who choose to do so seek an exceptional space tailored to their needs, tastes and aspirations, but realizing such a place can become an exhaustive, sometimes daunting, project. An architect must be selected, followed by a contractor to oversee construction. Then there are engineers, quantity surveyors, interior designers, landscape architects and permit officers to manage, each needing informed, timely decisions. This is the case with the simplest platform-framed house. Anyone looking to build something profound, something sensational, faces further demands. But in West Vancouver, British Columbia, one quiet group of companies is creating awe-inspiring residential homes, while offering each of these services under one roof: The Hollingsworth Group.

Owner Russell Hollingsworth formed the group’s three distinct companies to develop his studio approach to building wherein craftsmen and designers construct remarkable, sustainable homes together. Russell first established Rusco Enterprises Ltd., a construction firm, in 1973 to pursue his love of building. Armed with a passion for fine carpentry and two small crews, Hollingsworth was soon invited to design projects. He later became a registered architect and created Hollingsworth Architecture Inc. Russell’s development company, Hollingsworth Homes, soon followed. The three companies now work together seamlessly to offer independent or complete construction services. As Russell puts it, “A client can walk into my office with a specific or general idea, and we take over from there.”

But clientele receive much more than convenience. The Hollingsworth Group specializes in sophisticated, premier residences, each one utilizing the surrounding landscape and resources to build extremely practical, but beautiful, architectural masterpieces. Although Hollingsworth does not identify with any one typified style, he draws heavily on organic architecture when designing; this is a result of having the renowned Canadian architect, Fred Thornton Hollingsworth, for a father. “I learned everything from my father,” Russell explains. “From a very early age he was my mentor.” As a leading practitioner of the West Coast tradition, Russell’s father exposed Russell to the rewards of building spaces that embody their natural surroundings. Russell’s designs reflect this early influence, while being contemporary and elegant.

A Gourmet Recipe for Success

The talented group of designers and tradesmen Hollingsworth employs has earned an exceptional reputation for their creations. So much so that the Hollingsworth Group relies solely on word-of-mouth referrals to generate new business, something the gifted architect prefers, as he explains: “I have resisted advertising all of these years, preferring the work to speak for itself. I am committed to the daily design and construction needs of each project. My team has just recently convinced me, albeit reluctantly, to develop a web presence, which we are currently in the process of doing. I understand the importance of having a forum to showcase their dedication and talent.”

A quiet status also helps protect his client’s privacy, as many owners are accomplished, successful individuals requiring confidentiality. “Their security is a foremost concern; we do not publish our work out of respect for the client, only doing so with permission and discretion,” emphasizes Russell. This also explains why many of the Hollingsworth residences remain unnoticed. They are frequently built on (but not limited to) densely landscaped properties, often on the waterfront or in remote areas where they remain beloved, private pleasures.

By sidestepping a flashy media presence clients receive a level of quality and creativity unmatched by large firms. Focusing on a select group of designs at one time is also essential when building homes as complex and original as Hollingsworth’s. “Many spaces involve commercial level sophistication,” says Russell. “Our process is very technically advanced. These are complex structures with state-of-the art energy systems and finishes, but our construction and design expertise ensure a successful, constructed, translation of a client’s most ambitious architectural aspirations.”

Indeed, Mr. Hollingsworth and his dedicated team have crafted some of the most magnificent homes on the West Coast. “I have never developed hasty, mass-produced structures. I want us to be the five-star restaurant of construction, tucked away in the corner with an outstanding, dedicated team of staff members. I strive to make imminently beautiful places, thoughtfully built using the best materials and techniques so they are consequently cherished and cared for by their owners over time, similar to historical structures. To me, this is the essence of sustainability.” Russell often tells his team “we are building modern structures to heritage quality.”

Clearly, Russell Hollingsworth has achieved these goals, and deservedly so. Not only has he cultivated a fulfilling, challenging career for himself and his team, he is committed to serving his community through volunteerism, charity work and organic land husbandry. All this while staying dedicated to his client’s happiness, even if it means the artistic and architectural achievements of the Hollingsworth Group remain, largely, unseen.