South Exterior Elevation - Airstream Port - New Modern House 1 (Copperwood) - Zionsville, IN
About Our Practice

WERK | Building Modern

Indianapolis Modern Builder

What are we?


WERK | Building Modern is an Indianapolis Modern Builder focused on leading the accurate and efficient execution of modern construction projects.

Who are we?

We are the Architects at HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles, and we started building our client projects in 2004.

Elevated breezeway connects house to freestanding studio/garage. Bridge/balcony above provides direct access from master suite to studio and expansive views while providing shade/shelter for deck below - Classic Irvington Tudor Remodel - Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis Modern Builder - Carriage House Stair to Studio - LUMAsite acrylic, steel handrail, Pine treads - winder stair - Classic Irvington Tudor Remodel - Indianapolis, IN

Why do we prefer building the projects that we designed?

Simply, we like to see HAUS design projects built to Owner and Architect design + budget specifications.  To that end, building allows us to make that happen with oversight of every aspect of the project.  It helps enhance our client relationships and simplify the design + build process with one point-of-contact.

So, what’s the backstory?

Having apprenticed at larger-scale commercial architecture + construction firms, we became accustomed to a process of design and construction that was comprehensive and well-documented, with all site, architectural, and interior design decisions going through the Architect.

When we began working in the residential design marketplace in the late 1990’s, we quickly learned some key differences.  #1 – Architect involvement on residential projects appeared to be relatively rare, #2 – the market appeared to be dominated by custom builders who often led the process without design professionals involved, and #3 – we observed what generally appeared to be a lack of design sophistication and detailed design documentation.

Further, we noticed that many residential builders were not comfortable building modern, detailed projects; and most commercial builders were not interested in down-scaling.  So, we had ongoing challenges finding the right partners to properly execute our residential projects.

For these reasons, we created WERK | Building Modern to care for an under-served niche; Owners who love modern design, value Architect-led oversight, and expect accurate construction-phase execution.

This Architect-led delivery approach seems like a win-win; why isn’t everyone doing this?

We see three (3) primary Owner scenarios in construction phase delivery:

1 – Owners who have a special interest in design quality and want to find the best balance of design scope/cost:  They decide to see the project through following their clearly articulated values with excellent communication.  These Owners usually have  the best outcomes, as they stay the course and collaborate effectively with the Architect during design and construction phases.

2 – Owners who begin like Category 1 Owners, but later shift to prioritize project cost over design quality:  They may decide later to alter team makeup, or even eliminate the design team after completing basic drawings.  Later they may realize that the shift in priorities has caused a disconnect in the project delivery process. This is where unplanned and unsuccessful construction deviations frequently occur.  What Category 2 Owners may not realize is that an Architect-led approach can achieve the desired cost savings while still maintaining design integrity (actual value-engineering).

3 – Owners who prioritize project cost over design quality from the beginning:  They may decide to not hire an architect for the design or the build.  This may save both soft and hard costs and may result in a generic solution and result (but without the potential disconnect inherent in Category 2).

Indianapolis Modern Builder - CMU Stair + Elevator Tower (sunrise) - G BLOC MIXED USE Development - Broad Ripple North Village - Urban Infill - Indianapolis
Indianapolis Modern Builder - Original doors are incorporated into the new design - Broad Ripple Modern Craftsman Dwelling on Carrollton Avenue - Indianapolis, Indiana

What about high-performance building and environmental sustainability?

We’re glad you asked!  High performance building and environmental sustainability have always been important to us as architects.  And now, low-impact environmental solutions are becoming a mainstream consideration in all areas of life, but particularly the design + build industry.  In fact, we are happy to report that is has become unusual if a new client is not requesting smart, sustainable design/build solutions.

WERK team members are versed in many aspects of sustainability (LEED AP, PHIUS-Certified Builder).  To that end, we continue to seek new information and learn from/document our case studies in the field.  In our business model, the Architect leads the design process from beginning-to-end in collaboration with the Client. That initial visioning process includes a review of goals and opportunities related to all aspects of the project. Importantly, it includes high-performance, environmental sustainability, and overall resiliency concepts.

As we identify priorities and these design concepts advance forward, the Architect continues to develop passive and active strategies.  The Architect does this work in collaboration with Client, Consultants and Trade Partners (via WERK) to a level of detail ready for construction.  Check-out some of the Architect’s background on high-performance building here.  WERK assists the process with trade contractor coordination + real world budgeting.  This collaborative effort coincides with the Architect’s current design to help keep the project on track from a budgeting and scheduling standpoint.

What are the advantages of having WERK lead the building process?

Having originated the design, the Architect with client has already dreamed it, drawn it, detailed it, and virtually walked-through it before construction begins.  With Architect as Master Builder, execution of design concepts and alternatives along the way (ie, value engineering) receive the benefit of daily Architect oversight and clear communication at each step of the process, which is a major benefit of direct collaboration between Architect, trade contractors, and client.  Clear communication by less parties may also translate into less time, less cost, and higher quality.  With WERK, Indianapolis Modern Builder, our clients get a 2-for-1 and better outcomes.

Check out what our colleagues at GLUCK+ are doing and how they explain the benefits of Architect Led Design-Build.

What do you care about?

Do you care about excellent design, great communication, and protecting the vision during the construction phase? If so, then WERK may be the perfect partner in the oversight of your building process from beginning-to-end.

Obviously, we collaborate regularly with our sister company, HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles, in a design-build arrangement.

Please contact WERK | Building Modern, to begin a conversation and learn if we seem a good fit for one another!

Indianapolis Modern Builder - New back stair leads directly from Family Room/Kitchen area to Bedroom Suites upstairs. Oak details integrate with built-in shelves above and below - Butler Tarkington Modern Tudor - Indianapolis, IN

PHIUS Certified Builder (WERK | Building Modern)

PHIUS (Passive House Institute)

We are proud to announce that as of May 2022, WERK | Building Modern is officially a PHIUS-Certified Builder!

The Phius passive building certification standard is a rigorous energy standard that produces buildings that use 40-60 percent less energy than conventional structures.  The Phius standard is climate-specific, cost-optimized, and includes third-party quality assurance.

WERK’s Paul Reynolds engaged the certification training program and passed with flying colors!  Since then, Paul and the team have been working diligently to integrate the new and continuous learning into our client projects.

So if you are interested in the latest news and knowledge about efficient design + build, HAUS and WERK have you covered!


Professionals ready to serve.

Christopher Short (Profile Photo), Architect, Owner, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB - WERK | Building Modern, Indianapolis

Chris Short

Owner / Principal

Derek Mills (Profile Photo) - Project Manager - WERK | Building Modern

Derek Mills

Project Management / Trade Collaboration

Paul Reynolds - HAUS | Architecture For Modern Lifestyles - WERK | Building Modern - Indianapolis Architect - sitting on custom stair with vertical cable-rail

Paul Reynolds

Project Management / Trade Collaboration

Tom Wechsler (Profile Photo) - Project Manager - WERK | Building Modern

Tom Wechsler

Project Management / Trade Collaboration

Ashleigh Totten - Project Management/Trade Collaboration - WERK | Building Modern

Ashleigh Totten

Project Management / Trade Collaboration


We are currently looking for a Project Manager to grow our team and help oversee upcoming construction projects in the pipeline!

This person will have prior construction field experience and primarily help with the planning, management, and coordination of our unique, design-focused construction projects.

For more details, please check-out NEWS.

Please reach-out to to express your interest and set-up a call!

Project Management/Trade Collaboration


We have great clients.

texted - “OMG!!!!!! I can’t believe we get to live in this beautiful home. I mean, we have appreciated it even before it was built. But to see it from this perspective and the angles, light, and shadow (new photos), just …. BLEW. ME. AWAY!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you. It’s incredibly overwhelming in the best way. So many thanks to you, Chris, and Derek, Jean, Salvador, and everyone else that made this dream come to fruition. Such an incredible honor. Feeling so grateful and fortunate.”


I'm sure you know this, but Erika and Tom are great. The experience we're having with this project is so much better than the last time we did a substantial renovation with a GC. They're responsive, proactive and really thoughtful about how they help us think through problems. Just wanted to pass along our compliments.


Since the plans for our new home were very modern, we wanted to work with a company that specialized in modern architecture. Werk's portfolio was a great match for our style, and their fees were very reasonable. Werk knows their stuff, especially if your project is modern. You'll want their expertise on your side when you're taking on something like a new home or remodel! Highly recommended.


It was important for us that the construction outcome be consistent with the ours and the Architect's design vison for the project. Thus, it seemed natural to choose a construction management company that would work directly with the Architect in coordinating the trades on a daily basis. What better way to do this than via the Architect’s sister construction management company, WERK | Building Modern. Because of this connection, communication is much easier because the Architect actively engages daily to address ongoing details and design issues that come-up in a major remodeling project such as ours. As design decisions don't necessarily end at the Construction Documents stage, HAUS + WERK's engagement throughout the life of the project allowed us an ongoing, free-flowing design + construction dialogue from beginning-to-end. We were also able to take advantage of additional design opportunities that arose during construction. We have enjoyed our long-standing relationship with the team at WERK!


In looking to remodel our newly purchased home in Indianapolis (after moving here from San Francisco), we needed a construction management firm to take us through the remodel process that we were about to begin. We could not be happier to have worked with WERK! From beginning-to-end, WERK has shown professionalism, punctuality and knowledge in the field. Derek Mills was a pleasure to have on site! Always respectful of our home and lives while getting the job done. WERK was always there to help guide us through the process with expert advice, experience and knowledge. Staying on budget was of high importance to us and WERK worked patiently with us in balancing any “unexpected extras” with “scope reductions” in other areas. WERK exceeded our expectations. We highly recommend them to anyone looking for excellence and reliability in a construction management firm.


WERK served as our Construction Manager to renovate our condo after sprinkler heads burst destroying our ceiling, hardwood flooring, walls, and doors. WERK was able to source contractors who were experts in their particular fields and WERK managed those contractors to allow us to return to our condo in the shortest amount of time. WERK also helped us make decisions and provided recommendations on several things that came up during our renovation. process. The team displayed remarkable poise and their experience and attitude convinced us that we would be back in our condo on time, within budget, and it would be better than it was before. All WERK personnel were very knowledgeable and completed their tasks efficiently and were willing to assist us in anything we needed while they were here. We are grateful to WERK for what they did for us and would recommend them highly to anyone in need of a Construction Manager or for the completion of other construction projects.


WERK was great at guiding us through all aspects of our project. From beginning stages of master planning to project and construction management, HAUS and WERK maintained a high level of professionalism, an ability to effectively communicate with anyone from the structural engineer to subs, to me without excess jargon. The team captured what was desired in the project in both design and construction. The team respected the historical aspects of the home we renovated while introducing contemporary design and features; all of which are enjoyed to this day. We are glad our project was one they took on. It is one that has left a positive impact in our neighborhood and provided a great home to raise a family.


WERK managed a complex multi-faceted demolition, addition and remodel of a 1930 traditional brick home situated in a compact neighborhood. WERK successfully managed all the details, removed pressure from us, and continually presented multiple options to spark decision-making. In particular, the firm always considered and presented options and areas for decisions in the context of the overarching design, our preferences, and the budget. The completed project is exceptional!