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 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."&n 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 →
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 →
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 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 →
Seasons in Architecture and Construction
Growing up, spring was the time my dad and I began to get the building itch. The two of us would design and plan out a project, purchase the materials (and any needed tools…) and wait for the right day to start. The projects we worked on ranged from a shed or a boat to a chicken coop or play fort. Whatever project we chose to do would carry us into the summer and leave us with a feeling of fulfillment and sati 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 →
Your Home or Office Can Power Your Car
Passive House: Designing and building buildings so well for a specific site and climate we can eliminate eighty to ninety percent of the energy demands of space heating, cooling, and humidity control. This is fully achievable and affordable today, using readily available technologies and materials. And trust me, the architecture will be stunning, but not odd; I can create nearly any character working in this realm.Th Read More →
Cakes Left Out in the Rain
That natural forces will act on, and ultimately destroy, any contribution we make to our built environment persists as one of the few things we can be sure of about the fate of any building. For architects, this presents a challenge somewhat analogous to that of medical professionals who, destined to ultimately surrender the battle associated with our desire for immortality, heroically strive to help u 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 →
Rammed Earth: Deep Green by Design
A view of earth from space reveals a trace band of blue - our atmosphere - just visible across the sunlit edge of our planet. Below, eighty percent of the globe is coated by salt water but a fraction of the depth of that atmosphere. The remaining surface area rising just above the seas supports an exponentially thinner layer of organic soils. David Suzuki has offered the observation that if we accurately modeled th 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 →
The Intelligent Choice
Europeans have lived with high energy costs for a long time, and have a strong pragmatic awareness of the costs associated with heating and cooling buildings. So it may come as no surprise that the leading standard in energy savings comes to us from Germany: The Passive House standard.
It's not a brand - anyone with the knowledge and desire can use these technologies. The advantages are clear: a means to create be 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 →
The First Step to Net Zero Energy
A 'net-zero energy' building generates more energy than it needs. The most important item in Net-Zero design is reducing the demand for energy. This is the main principle behind the Passive House concept, so it should be a natural progression for architects designing to the passive house standard to also pursue Net-Zero Energy. A passivhaus project is already over half way toward being a Net-Zero Energy project.Here Read More →
Building with Organic Materials
All the rivers run into the sea, and yet the sea is not full. Ecclesiastes 1:7
Waste does not exist in nature. In the natural world, everything is cyclical; everything happens in closed loops and dynamic systems of loops. One familiar example would be the hydrological cycle, in which energy from the sun charges the atmosphere with water vapor and moves it inland on thermal currents, where it falls to th Read More →
Breathing Clean Indoor Air
Optimum interior air quality has become an increasingly prominent concern in my work. Passive house interior air quality is pristine because highly filtered fresh air is constantly being exchanged with the interior air. The passive house standard requires filtration systems that achieve a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 12 or better - meaning dangerous contaminants have been removed from the air, Read More →
Design for Future Abundance
The classical English pattern of using the village commons (that communally owned and used land which was available for pasturing private livestock) did not involve a conflict between public and private welfare as long as there was enough land. However, as herds increased, the over-grazed land became less productive so that the herdsmen had to increase their stocks in order to stay even, and thus the commons were des Read More →
"When you make things well, it's an ethical thing." ~ Stanley Tigerman
Instant gratification in architecture is highly over-rated. As an architect, being published and winning prestigious design awards is validating and gratifying, but this kind of recognition also tends to be fleeting, capricious, and superficial.
I have arrived at the understanding that for me, the only meaningful goal related to profe Read More →
Details and Intention
When we experience good design - whether it is the design of a product, a service, or an environment - seemingly small, nuanced details we may well not even be conscious of will often exert a powerful influence on our perceptions. Even without knowing why, we are drawn toward the intentions of our benefactors. We like what they are up to. We appreciate what they provide without really needing to understand why or how Read More →
Zero Net Energy Owners Speak Out
A Zero Net Energy Home produces as much energy as it consumes, resulting in zero net energy bills and zero net carbon emissions. But the story does not end there. Zero Energy Homes have many other advantages over standard homes and so-called 'green' homes. They are very quiet, they provide fresh filtered air, they are very comfortable, and they are very sturdy homes. When the modest extra cost to build a Zero Read More →
Environmentally Optimized Commercial Laundry
You might not think of architects as being particularly interested in laundry as a design issue, but we get really excited about saving our clients money and easing the impact that the facilities we create have on the environment. And when we're talking about thousands of tons of laundry being processed annually, the stakes are large... very large. We can cut hot water usage by 90% or more and dryer energy usage in Read More →
You are quietly being poisoned...
Most people assume there is some level of oversight protecting them from unhealthy building. That is not the case. No form of regulatory oversight is concerned with the levels of toxic materials embedded in building materials.
Building codes, for example, primarily focus on issues like life safety in the context of fires and earthquakes.The construction industry is a toxic disaster, from source to installation, and 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 →