Who We Are and What We Do  

 We are dreamers and pragmatists, idealists and realists, academics and problem solvers, thinkers and makers. We like wide-open speculation and we like constraints. We play while we work. In this we don’t see conflict but as the necessary conditions for making architecture. It’s a journey with a deadline and a budget.

We like to listen. Why? Because we want to do good work and we want you to be happy. How do we listen? By not talking. By not assuming and presuming we know. We listen while you tell us your story, what’s important to you, how you want to live or work or play or make public space for others to do all of the above. After listening we can start to ask you questions, carefully considered questions, playful what if questions, lots of questions, so we can push the edges, learn and get to a place we didn't know existed.

From this dialogue emerges “the program”: what the building and site is “to do”. With program we can begin to develop a concept with a logic and rules and orders to synthesize the various stuff that architecture is made of: program, site, climate, space, energy use, materials, history, zoning, culture, technology, research, imagery, proportion, budget, beauty, deadlines, delight and more. It’s messy at first but we seek to distill all of this into something elegantly simple. When the design appears obvious and effortless, we’re approaching our goal. This might sound like “serious work” but its equal parts play.

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We do this work together, in a big room with big work tables. At the back is our shop, full of models and behind that is the alley clogged with full scale mock ups and a chair that gets great southern sun. Here we sketch, we make diagrams, we make physical models and digital models. We use the computer when it’s useful- we prefer to draw with pencils and make models with our hands because we learn more, more quickly and it’s more fun. We take photos of the models. We pin up our drawings, diagrams and photos on the wall, set the models on stands and we discuss the work together. We disagree and agree, eventually we agree on a path forward and then we draw and make again. Through iteration we discover things we were not seeing, the project wends and winds its way towards resolution. The process is not linear, it takes time but in time, good, synthesized architecture, your building, emerges.

Awareness of the natural environment is central to our approach. From studying the specific conditions of the site through refining the material palette and coordinating the construction process, we are thinking about our relationship to nature, considering topography, climate, wind patterns and natural light. While this looks different in each project, we often choose to use local materials, prefabricated components and passive heating/cooling systems. The less we use the better. The better the building the more likely it will be protected and re-used.

 

What We Like [a few things]

We like simplicity. We like buildings that are quiet and reveal themselves slowly over time. We like buildings that are unfamiliar. We like architecture that is felt rather than seen. We like buildings that frame the world and let us see it in a way we could not before. We like a clarity in architecture that reveals an ambiguity about the world. We prefer to be outside.