Architecture firm focuses on small cities and towns

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Kathy and Bill Frazier (front, center) and staff.
Photo courtesy Frazier Associates

Bill and Kathy Frazier have worked on nearly 3,000 projects Virginia since they started Staunton-based Frazier Associates in 1986. The husband-and-wife architecture firm specializes in downtown revitalization, adaptive reuse, historic preservation, urban infill, community planning, wayfinding, corridor planning and residential design.

Frazier Associates was the recent recipient of the T. David Fitz-Gibbon Virginia Architecture Firm Award, the highest honor bestowed by the professional organization AIA Virginia. “One of the reasons we got the award was because we have focused our work on small cities and towns,” says Bill. “That type of work was a neglected section of the practice of architecture. We were out there on our own doing a lot of work in these smaller areas around the state.”

The firm’s projects have included all communities involved in the Virginia Main Street Program, an affiliate of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center.

“We have been fortunate to work with the Main Street Program since we have been in business,” says Kathy, noting the program represents just a small-but-important portion of the firm’s business. “We like helping those small communities. We provide the design assistance as well as workshops on designs for communities statewide.”

The Main Street Program centers on economic development in the context of historic preservation. “It’s a whole sense of place. It makes people proud,” Kathy says. “It’s really trending now with remote working. People find it attractive to live in these small downtowns because they are walkable. Downtowns are being reborn through the Main Street approach.”

Most of the firm’s historic rehabilitation work is in the Shenandoah Valley. In addition, it has drafted more than 50 sets of design guidelines and pattern books for historic downtowns and rural villages throughout the Southeast. “We have worked in 20 states, including Virginia,” Bill says.

The firm currently is working on several Main Street projects as well as a number of residential projects. “We do new houses as well as historic houses and rural buildings,” Kathy says. “We’ve done a number of historic barns.”

One of the firm’s larger projects was the recent rehab of the Harrisonburg Ice House, which houses a brewery, a restaurant, apartments and other businesses. “We are wrapping up another building in Harrisonburg, the Keezell building, that is more classically designed and will have downtown apartments,” says Bill. “A lot of our projects are adaptive reuse like this.” 

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