First and foremost, we believe the project is the client’s. This is the perspective from which we make decisions. The client will work directly with the person or people working on their project so there is no distortion of their program. Our role is to assist the client in their project. We don’t have to “like” the project (although we invariably do) as long as we know the design meets the clients needs. Some times the client presents us with, what initially seems, peculiar programmatic requirements. We make sure to take the time to understand their needs. We endeavor to become the client by sublimating our desire to control the project for our purposes. We realize the project is not just a physical thing but the embodiment of the client’s needs and personalities, it will need to be able to grow and change.
We cannot do the project for the client, we can help them by providing the guidance they need to navigate a successful project. If we did the project for them it would be our project. This is not the easiest way to “do” a project but it does yield the most rewarding results. Of course the clients love the project, it is theirs. What we have in our portfolio are still images of a dynamic relationship between individuals and their built environment. The projects are fun to look at but cannot be fully appreciated until meeting the people that created them and seeing the site that the project responds to. We offer a service not a product. We work with people rather than for them. We encourage them to think about certain things of crucial importance and how all the elements will evolve and synthesize into a solution. We link our will and abilities to the purpose of others.
We are a client focused firm. Over decades we have developed a project programming guide (PPG). It can be self-guided (usually) or developed with the architect. The PPG gives us the puzzle pieces to put together for the client’s project. While we would welcome the opportunity to work with you on your project from the program you write there is no obligation to do so. It is more important that you get a project that meets all your needs than us getting the work but please keep us in mind. The program becomes a check list for a complete design response – if it is in the program it should be in the design. We strive to have a low threshold, an accessible service for people that need it – we demystify it and make it affordable – goo design is the best investment you can make. As is possible we speak plainly, we use use small words and short sentences and do not use corporate speak/trade jargon – the same way we would in the field when we build, or in the office, to make sure there is no misunderstanding. Sometimes, when working in the field with trades, the communication can become very specialized and abbreviated though to get through various options quickly. If the client is listening in we will explain what was discussed so they understand why certain decisions are made and it gives them the opportunity to add their thoughts..
We feel that for a solution to a particular problem to be considered successful, or a design element included, it must enhance some, or all, other aspects of the project through its integration into the project. The whole project has to work together and make sense. Each element must have purpose and meaning. Every aspect of the project must be necessary; it has a job to do and it must do it efficiently and effectively. Is this process expensive? No. Compromise is far more expensive than synthesis with regard to the inherent value of the project. Synthesis enhances design value by its very nature. Design value is value added to a project by virtue of how it is designed. The project is worth more because of how it is designed. Compromise undermines the integrity of the project and makes it less valuable. Part of the product of synthesis is cost effectiveness; all components serve many functions. A key tenet of synthesis, in my mind, is elegance – accomplishing the desired goal with minimal elements or actions; this is the opposite of gaudy.
Another key part of our philosophy is balance. The project balances with the budget, the project balances with the site. The development of the interior is balanced with the development of the exterior. Concern for the environment is balanced with the need for a long lasting and low maintenance project. The need for privacy is balanced with the desire to entertain guests etc. The need to accommodate the client’s unique program is balanced with their need to sell their house someday and to obtain financing. The balancing of the project eliminates weak points and unwelcome surprises.
We believe all program criteria should be viewed as positive. Small budget, unusual site, contradictory project criteria from the different clients and people involved are sources of inspiration for innovative responses rather than obstacles. These program components can be powerful design tools and directly translated into identifiable, trackable solutions.
We believe the solution is not always obvious and should be allowed to reveal its self through the programming and design process. There are some basic principles we adhere to though. For examples if there is a particularly beautiful part of a site we would more likely leave it alone, as it is already “well-designed,” and would instead build on a damaged or less desirable portion of the site. In this way our efforts will improve the less desirable portion of the site while leaving the better part of the site alone for the client to enjoy ‘untouched”. We might not want the best site feature in plain view of the project so it does not become taken for granted. We always investigate planning in a way that is different than prevailing local design patterns to avoid the pitfalls of preconception. Just because everyone else in the “neighborhood” arbitrarily orients their project towards the street at the expense of ignoring beneficial environmental energy factors, plasters a three inch thick facade on the front that bears no relationship to the interior, and leaves a huge front lawn for the purpose of mowing and spraying with chemicals, does not mean we will automatically follow this precedence. We will question everything to come up with the best solution.
Authenticity – and timeless design. Wood grained vinyl siding is not something we would recommend using. Not only is it environmentally unsound, a poor life cycle product choice, from a expense and health standpoint, but it is also inauthentic in many ways. For example, it is not installed in the fashion real siding of that type is installed, so often the siding appears “sound” on the exterior while it is hiding a slow and steady rotting of the structure behind it that is not discovered until the siding has to be replaced. An authentic material is much less expensive in the big picture and the long run. There are many that are as “maintenance free” as vinyl siding and that last the life of the structure.
Our firm philosophy revolves around having a conscience and practicing the “Golden Rule”. We want our efforts to help build a world we want to live in. We want people to be healthy and happy.