Advanced Design Technologies
We design using cutting edge tools and technologies to create - truly - the highest quality environments for human habitation in the history of our species. It's far beyond the incorporation of high technology in components of the buildings... the buildings themselves are technologically advanced outcomes of rigorously applied building science.
Some people think about our work as being targeted at the 'Prius demographic' - which is partially accurate, because our buildings are so economical to own and operate, and many of our clients are highly committed to Read More →
Passive House at a Glance
The term 'passive' in the context of passive house refers to the reduction or elimination of 'active' mechanical systems. There are many compelling reasons why this is a more intelligent and responsible way to build. Here is a quick list of benefits - in no particular order:- Increased comfort.- Improved reliability.- Pristine indoor air quality.- Dramatic cost savings.- Redirect money from equipment to architecture.- Protection from future energy cost increases.- Reduced carbon footprint- Reduced maintenance- Resilience in times of power outages.- Increased equity The graphic to the ri Read More →
High Performance Architecture Pays For Itself
Once we have a conceptual design solution that has been approved by a client, we typically provide them with a financial analysis of the costs and benefits of building to the passivhaus level of quality as opposed to simply building to current code minimums.
"By building to passive house quality instead of code minimum, our client is investing in their equity rather than spending even more money on utility bills."
The actual cost of elevating project performance to passivhaus levels varies with the scope of the project. As the size of a project increases, the cost, when expressed as a Read More →
Quality, Time and Cost
Quality, time, and cost are the three legs supporting the metaphorical stool of project management. Good project managers constantly work to maximize the outcome for a project in each of these three realms. The most difficult aspect of this nonstop challenge is that each of these priorities compete for dominance over the other two. Quality is surely easier to maintain if we relax our concern about schedule or budget; costs can be reduced dramatically if we let go of worries about quality or schedule; a schedule is easier to hold if either cost or quality are not issues. There are many s Read More →
Building and Car Pricepoints
"Design is usually not about luxury, but rather, making the best use of available resources for any given project."
Buildings and cars are both designed and created across a spectrum of price, from low-end to high. Buildings are very different from automobiles in important ways... buildings are much more expensive, long term commitments that may appreciate in value rather than depreciate. But there are some metaphorical parallels between the cost of buildings and cars.Automobiles and buildings share the same wide range in levels of quality. They also share similar quality factors, Read More →
400 Mile Per Gallon Architecture
Imagine you are considering the purchase of a new car that gets 40 miles to the gallon... when you learn about a similarly priced high performance alternative that is far better built, looks great, and runs 200 to 400 miles to the gallon, depending on your driving habits. It uses some German parts and a lot of German technology, but it is mostly a domestic product. Oh, and another thing; the maintenance is a whole new game. Just keep the air filter clean, maybe change out a fan belt every decade or so. Interested?
I'm pretty sure you would be. Even without thinking about what w Read More →
What Breed of Architect is for You?
Pretty much by definition, embarking on a search for any professional to place your trust in is likely to be a little worrisome. The prospect of selecting and hiring an architect can be something of a challenge, for any number of reasons. On the chance you may be in this situation, or know someone who is, I would like to share some insider knowledge that might help to narrow things down a bit.
"For us, everything stands in service to the underlying ideas and ideals driving the work."
Different architects approach their work in very different ways, and just as certain breeds of pets are Read More →
Loss, Love, Architecture
"Architecture is not really about buildings, any more than poetry is about vowels."
Life is full of disappointments, small and large. Then there is loss in life, an entirely different matter. The former, time will surely reveal to be relative, perhaps even trivial; the latter is absolute, dimensionless. Time does not heal loss; loss is loss. Grieving only allows us to slowly learn how to cope with loss, how to live with it.
For me, the one-two punch of the passing of my parents is loss; absolute loss, as much a part of me now as the chronic pain I will always live with fro Read More →
Perspectives: Knowledge vs. Wisdom
Architecture has the potential to be greatly enriched with an inclusive appreciation of both 'Western' ('European') and 'Eastern' ('Asian') perspectives. This is not to say that we favor Asian style, but rather, that we appreciate the contrasting character of Asian thought systems and what those outlooks can do to deepen and enrich the design sensibilities that, as children of Western culture, many of us have so deeply embedded in our psyche. Mostly without being consciously aware of it, we all create our built environment as products of our culture and the context of the brief momen Read More →
Rammed Earth Architecture
It comes as a surprise to many people to see an architect working in the Pacific Northwest designing and building with rammed earth, which is generally associated with very arid, hot climates and low tech, indigenous building traditions. I became interested in working with rammed earth as an unexpected outcome of research I was doing during the programming phase of a project for a writers' retreat that led me to the discovery of SIREWALL - a technologically advanced refinement of ancient building practices. It represents the transformation of a historically proven but unsophisticated and Read More →