Architecture is for people, all of us. It is an integral part of our everyday life, providing shelter and meeting practical needs, but also expressing who we are and transforming us in the doing of it.
Architecture comes out of a specific place and time. It respects and responds to context, community, environment, and utility to enrich our lives. It recognizes our interdependence and our common good. Architecture helps us make sense of our place in the natural order of things, using space, light, materials, craft and symbolism to create a genuine, authentic and dynamic expression of what we believe.
How do we make architecture? Well, everyone brings something to the table. We all have certain perspectives through which we see the world around us. As architects, these perspectives shape the way we solve design problems. They become our principles.
This is what we bring to the table.
Details make a difference. Yes, they keep water off our heads and make buildings stand up, but details are more than just practical instructions for assembling parts.
Details determine how buildings touch us, how they make us feel, the comfort they provide, the access they offer us to meaning, place, and relevance in our lives.
Details form the language of a building. They generate from and point to the overall design concept. Well-designed buildings have clear and coherent details that help the building make sense. We work to put materials together artfully and consistently so that our buildings are practical, beautiful and understandable.
Well-built buildings also have well-crafted details. Dedicated craftspeople play integral parts in constructing buildings, yet all too frequently are not engaged during design. Their incredible talent remains an untapped resource. We seek-out their input and listen to what they have to say.
Context connects people and place. Grounded in respect for those who have come before us, contextual design recognizes their history, struggles, success, achievements, and our cultural heritage. Acknowledging previous work adds meaning and understanding to design of our time.
By studying historical precedents, we learn what has worked and what hasn't. Memorable places combine the best of the past - urban patterns, streetscapes, open space, scale, proportion, materials - with today's best ideas for a new vision of how we want to live and work together.
Contextual work is just as effective in large, urban settings as it is in small, intimate buildings. The best communities have walkable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and the best buildings are good neighbors, whether they stand alone or work together to create larger urban spaces.
Understanding and responding to context just makes projects better. Well- designed projects fit into their context, expand our cultural understanding, and reinforce our goals as a society. They make better places by meeting neighborhood and community needs as well as client requirements.
Design with Nature. Thoughtful and responsible design is integrated with the natural environment. We strive for low-impact solutions in harmony with the land, arranging buildings in response to solar orientation, wind direction, and natural topography.
We lead clients to consider long-term life-cycles, not just the short-term first costs. Stewardship is everyone's responsibility. We are all obligated to take care of the world we live in and to insure a sustainable future for our children.
Sustainable design not only meets client needs and provides comfort. It also uses resources efficiently, conserves energy, incorporates indigneous materials, integrates technology to make healthy interior environments, and minimizes waste and environmental damage during construction.
True sustainability is holistic, balancing all the resources needed for a project, including the impact on community infrastructure, client funding and personnel. Design is not sustainable if operations and maintenance cannot be sustained.
Light shapes what we see. Imagine life without light. Go ahead. Try. The fact is, it's just not possible. Our source of natural light, the sun, makes life possible. It gives us warmth, light, seasons, even life itself. It never stops working, producing both daylight and moonlight as well. It maintains our temperature perfectly within a narrow range of survivability, radiating warmth in the winter and generating cool breezes in the summer. It fosters the photo-chemical process making oxygen for us to breathe.
We get so used to the sun, we don't even think about its effect on us. In all its different positions - behind us, over our shoulders, directly overhead, behind mountains at sunrise and hovering over the horizon at sunset - it determines the forms, shapes and colors we see.
Sometimes we even seek shelter from it, simply to control it, not to block it out. Instead, we use it to heighten our senses - by reflecting, focusing, shielding and redirecting it - and to shape our perception of the spaces around us. Natural light is such an integral part of our lives that it must be an integral part of the architecture and interior design we surround ourselves with. Without it, we could not survive.
Materials Matter. The substance of an idea is either reinforced, or diminished, by the materials we use. Through life experiences, our senses teach us what to expect from the materials around us - texture, permanence, durability, density, weight, richness - and we learn to associate distinctive values with each different material.
We become familiar with the materials natural to our region and we learn to easily recognize foreign invasives when they are out-of-place. We know what is genuine, authentic and, more importantly, what is not. Fake materials cannot convey genuine ideas.
We embrace advancements in technology and the new materials that come from them. Yet, materials shouldn't work against us, so we must also be conscious of the impact materials have on our resources and the potentially dangerous components in both the final product and the manufacturing process. Finding the right balance between science and art, technology and nature, usefulness and expression, is a hallmark of good design.
Fit for a Purpose. We recognize and respect the end-user, the people who use our buildings and the communities they are part of. Our first task is getting to know client needs and user requirements. We want to understand user-priorities so well that they become second nature.
We also become familiar with the project type, either through previous experience or by research, study and visits to similar projects. Then, we look for the simplest, clearest and most unpretentious solution that meets the user's needs, though this is often the hardest to find. Good design requires distilling user requirements to the most essential elements and, just as importantly, judiciously editing out extraneous design options to find the one that fits just right. The final design should look as if it has always been there, as if it was the easiest, most natural solution.
As much as we know aesthetics aren't of much use if the design doesn't meet user needs, we also know people enjoy beautiful design. Functional design is only partially fulfilling. The classical definition of beauty embodies completeness and fulfills the whole person, keeping water off our heads and uplifting our spirits, all at the same time.