Carbon Neutral Architecture What Breed of Architect is for You? Building and Car Pricepoints
Carbon Neutral Architecture
The built environment is responsible for three fourths of annual global greenhouse gas emissions: buildings alone account for 39 percent.  Eliminating these emissions is the key to addressing climate change and meeting Paris Climate Agreement targets. The American Institute of Architects 2030 Commitment sets a goal for all new buildings, developments, and renovations to be carbon-neutral by 203 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, everyth 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 s 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 Read More →
HERS Index: The Home Energy Rating System
 The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the industry standard by which a home's energy efficiency is measured.   HERS scores are designed for new homes (or homes after a complete renovation). When builders need to meet efficiency standards, they use the HERS Index, which has become the accepted industry standard for documenting the energy performance of a building.To get a HERS score, a Read More →
The Language of Mechanical Comfort Systems
“Environmental control systems tend to be treated rather like the Cinderella of architecture; given only the plainest clothes to wear, they are relegated to a back room to do the drudgery that maintains the elegant lifestyle of the other sisters: light, form, structure, and so forth." ~ Lisa Heschong [1] Early in 20th century, architecture was profoundly impacted by the industrial revolution and increasing avail Read More →
Saving More With Commercial Passivhaus
The savings to be realized by Passivhaus architecture are exponentially increased when we build institutional and commercial projects. We are pleased to have one of the most experienced commercial/institutional Passivhaus architects in the world on our design team. Adam Cohen brings thirty years of experience as both a builder and an architect. He has amassed a notable list of projects, including several 'firsts':& Read More →
Shading Data - No Guesses
One of the many aspects of site specific architectural design now standard practice in our pre-design research process is to acquire a forensic understanding of the shading conditions that will alter how our architecture will be exposed to the sun over the course of each year.Designing high performance buildings, there is far less room for intuition and assumptions commonly taken for granted in the design and const Read More →
Choices Reflect Values
"Simplicity, clarity, singleness; these are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy." ~ Richard Halloway Imagine that in your left hand, you hold a bottle of very low cost wine... and in your right, something like a Willamette Valley Pinot or a Napa Valley Cabernet. The similarities are obvious enough; 750 ml of fermented grape juice, in glass containers. They have roughly equivalent alco Read More →
Building Legacy Architecture
Building with durable, inorganic materials such as SIREWALL means spending more initially to create buildings that will not burn, rot, or otherwise decompose. What are the implications of designing buildings that will stand for generations rather than years?A brook trout swims freely... within the boundaries of the streambed. Both the stream and its inhabitants are constantly changing, but the stream structure change Read More →
Getting to Simple
"Like all great performances, a great work of art makes complexity look simple. It is executed with style, skill, and grace. Any genuine work of art is created through tremendous discipline, not put together out of a grab bag of random references and trendy trim. Great art eliminates everything superfluous and nonessential to deliver a strong, clear message in the language of its time. It intensifies all of our res Read More →
Collegiality and Teamwork
"Listen to the man who works with his hands. He may be able to show you a better way to do it." ~ Louis Kahn "And always - always, say Thank You." ~ Mike Kelly My role during construction is generally to act as my client's agent, working to ensure that what was designed is what is built, the obligations of their construction contract are being honored, and what they are being billed for as construction Read More →
Travel and Architecture
One of the most addictive aspects of a career in architecture is the level of ongoing learning that it engages one in throughout the entire arc of a career, of a lifetime. The sources of this 'continuing education' need not be distant or exotic travel. The insights offered by local interactions and every day life are generous indeed. But to expand ourselves beyond the boundaries of familiar contexts and references, Read More →
Passion, Innovation and Efficiency
There are no shortcuts to excellence. An ever present tension in architectural practice derives from the need to not only work well, but to do so as efficiently as possible. Each project we undertake represents a leap of faith - on everyone's part - on our ability to arrive at an optimum result without actually knowing what that result will be, or even exactly how we will arrive there. We employ a proven methodolo Read More →
My Mentor's Mentors
"There is one timeless way of building. It is a thousand years old, and the same today as it has ever been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have always been made by people who were very close to the center of this way. It is not possible to make great buildings, or great towns, beautiful places, places where you feel yourself, places where yo Read More →
Spaces for Creative Collaboration
Unleashed Online Media asked for offices that reflect who they are and support how they work. What was required was a balanced blend of collaborative, open space and personal, individual space that express and foster progressive thinking and positive energies. The design and construction schedule was extremely short, and the budget called for highly creative solutions. The top image to the right is an artifac Read More →
Waste is Food
A 'circular economy' is a term for an industrial economy that is, by design or intention, completely restorative.  In a circular economy, material flows are of two types: biological and technical. Biological nutrients are designed to reenter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients are designed to circulate at high quality without entering the biosphere.  But everything is reused.   In a circular Read More →
Three Dimensional Point Clouds
Technical innovation continues to rapidly and profoundly impact the practice of architecture. Here is one example: We can now perform a three dimensional laser scan of any built environment, rapidly collecting the locations of millions of points in space, creating a digital file housing a massive bundle of data known as a 'point cloud'. This point cloud can be 'read' by the three dimensional modeling software that pl Read More →
Reintroducing China to Rammed Earth
China is undertaking the largest building boom in the history of the world. A young and talented pair of Canadian architects are working to introduce SIREWALL rammed earth as a healthy, sustainable option for building beautiful and durable architecture in China. Read More →
Experiencing Expression
I know a lot of skilled architects who know what great architecture is - and really appreciate it - but can't create it. They have many skills, lots of talent, and deep knowledge, but lack some essential capabilities that are required to be a well rounded architect. They usually play an important if specialized role on a team, in a larger firm. Their contributions to the profession are often exceptional within the Read More →
Lessons From Being a Developer
Becoming licensed as an architect is a long, challenging process, but that is just the first step toward becoming an Architect, which is a lifelong journey. In my particular case, it has included decades of experience as a general contractor, building our designs for our clients... as well as becoming a project developer, simultaneously acting as the architect, contractor, and client for a multi-million dollar invest Read More →
Investing in Design
Hiring an architect is expensive... but embarking on a significant construction project without a good architect is likely to be much more expensive.An investment in the service of a qualified, competent, and committed architect optimizes available resources with a design solution truly responsive to your property and to you. Investing a fraction of the overall cost of the project in professional design services wi Read More →
Readers Poll: Best Architecture Firm
It has been an honor to be recognized by the readers of Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine as 'Best Architecture Firm'  for many years now. A couple of decades ago, I made the deliberate decision to stop submitting projects for design awards or otherwise publicizing my work in any way. I was interested to learn how, over time, my professional empathy and sensibilities may be sharpened practici Read More →
Montana Architecture Firm
We have opened an office in Bozeman, Montana, to serve the southwestern Montana region and beyond. With active projects ranging from western Oregon and Washington to western Montana, we are delighted to be working across a broad spectrum of the natural wonders of the American Northwest. As an architecture firm, we have learned that we can work effectively as a team across any distances with the benefit of modern c Read More →