A child grows up tinkering with drafting equipment left around the house by his father, an electrical engineer. Child’s play becomes passion during a ninth-grade drafting class when the kid realizes “this would be a fun thing to do.”

And so is born an architect.

Years later, and neighborhood resident Greg Lorie is the owner of Architectura, a firm responsible for the restoration and/or design of such neighborhood landmarks as the Lakewood Theater and Matt’s Rancho Martinez, and the cutting-edge look of hot spots such as Cool River restaurant in Las Colinas.

Clients Burke and Jo Barr, who spearheaded the Lakewood Theater’s remodeling, say they found the right architect both in skill and personality.

“Greg is an absolute delight to work with,” Jo Barr says. “He strives very hard to always give his clients what they want without losing the integrity of Lakewood’s wonderful eclectic neighborhood.”

On the Way / Lorie had just finished a degree in architecture when he was offered an apprenticeship with a firm in Dallas in the early 1980s. Since that time, Lorie has called our neighborhood his home, in part because it reminded him of the one from his boyhood.

“It looks like neighborhoods I was used to…it looked lived in, a little imperfect, but a place where people actually lived.”

Jogging or walking from his place on Lower Swiss Avenue, Lorie says he “absorbed” how the area made him and his neighbors feel so comfortable: “We actually came out into the neighborhood and lived in the neighborhood, we didn’t just sleep there.”

A home on Prospect Avenue followed, and then he and wife Monica found a house to their liking on Gaston Parkway, a 1950s contemporary home they share with two dogs and three cats. Purchased from the original owner, the couple retained many of the original appliances and finishes. But Lorie says it needs a bit of fine-tuning.

“My wife kids me because I actually had the remodel drawn up before closing,” he says.

Who Cares How It Tastes – How Does It Look? / While Lorie may be a die-hard neighborhood resident, his work isn’t confined to our borders. When club entrepreneur Steve Hartnett joined forces with Gene Street to form Consolidated Restaurants, the team hired Lorie to create the distinctive look for their new eatery on the canal.

“Steve had a concept for a high-end restaurant with a bar, billiards area and a cigar room – at the time that was a new idea,” Lorie says. “The restaurant was quite successful, and they further refined and expanded the concept for Cool River in Austin.”

“I enjoy doing restaurants for the same reason that I enjoy doing residences,” Lorie says. “One creates an environment that is a respite from the outdoor world, the other creates a mood and environment that is a getaway. The residential client wants to create a feeling of security and comfort with their new or remodeled home. The restaurant client wants to make money ultimately, but to do this he needs his clientele to feel either comfortable or elegant or to be transported to a different place than where their normal routine would lead them.”

Neighborhood Loyalty / In his 20 or so years in East Dallas, Lorie says he has witnessed many changes, most notably the improvement of areas once deemed unsavory.

“The fight that this area has had to go through to preserve itself makes people sort of grow together…it has a sense of history, a sensibility all its own,” he says.

But not all the changes Lorie has seen have been good. He laments the advent of the “tear down/re-do,” the razing of a structure to build another structure. Though he admits it is more humane to take some older homes off life support, many are structurally sound, ripe for a renovation.

Don’t think that lovely little Craftsman-style bungalow should be replaced with a burb house? “Organize,” Lorie says, “you can fight City Hall.

“Neighborhood groups and neighborhood snoops do a lot of good things…it’s not the city’s responsibility, it’s the individuals collectively.”