Business News for the Mississippi Delta

“Proud Southern” Architect 

Frances Zook carves impressive niche

By Jack Criss  •  Photography by Laura Negri Childress

Frances Flautt Zook doesn’t mind being categorized as a Southern architect. Truth be told, she embraces the label.

“I’m a proud Southern architect,” Zook, a Greenwood native, says. “Vernacular styles of a geographical area influence my work. I don’t admire a particular architect so much as I do the homes and buildings that have been built in the Delta and throughout the South. I love working with clients and the whole process of designing and seeing a home or a business built from start to finish. So, actually, I rather like being called a Southern architect!”

Zook’s career has allowed her to experience vernacular styles across every corner of the South. After earning an architecture degree from LSU, she worked for firms in Washington, D.C., Houston, Austin and Atlanta before launching her own Atlanta-based practice fifteen years ago. She now splits her time between Atlanta and her home in Oxford, where she moved a year ago and opened an office on the Square.

 While Zook continues to do small commercial work, her focus leaned increasingly over time toward custom residential work. It all started when a friend approached her to design a home and, from that point on, Zook has worked and practiced on her own. “I find the entire process of architecture, from studying the site, to final construction very exciting. I also enjoy the business side as well.”

Since then, Zook has designed dozens of new and renovated homes across several states and spanning a range of architectural styles. “It is very fulfilling to create a dream space for a family that fits their aesthetics, the landscape of where the home is located, and the client’s budget,” says Zook. “I also find collaborating with the building team important as each person has their own expertise to contribute and I am always learning more on every project.”

Understanding a client’s needs often requires translating how they describe their wants into a cohesive design. Zook finds inspiration from a wide range of buildings and experiences ranging from great classical cities to agriculture structures found throughout the Delta. “I can take those experiences and observations back to the drawing table to solve the newest design challenge. Each project is like putting together a 3-D puzzle,” she says.  

Despite COVID, Zook says she’s busier than ever. “Our industry is doing well and work is steady. People are at home now and they’re nesting. They want to renovate or make additions. Major renovations and new homes are my sweet spot and, thankfully, there’s a demand for both right now.” 

Zook loves Oxford and her Delta roots. This love manifests itself in her work and, as a result, she has many satisfied clients who are fortunate to have benefitted from her experience and talents.