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About us 
Services we offer

New houses and cottages
We design new houses and accessory buildings that are period appropriate for specific building traditions. Projects have included many styles from 1880s Queen Anne to 1950s Midcentury Modern.  Our designs are historically appropriate, well-detailed, and yet well adapted for life today.  We provide full architectural services from initial ideas through construction.

Learn more: Designing a New Traditional House

Renovations and additions
We also design renovations and well-integrated additions for houses of all periods and styles. Our special expertise is in adapting houses for current needs without losing their historic character and charm.

Should we renovate or build new?
Good houses are always in demand and close-in available land to build a new house increasingly hard to find. Many buyers settle for a less-than-ideal home with the idea of improving it over time to correct shortcomings. With renovation costs as high as they are some houses are not worth extensive renovation. It would be be more cost effective to build new.  Homeowners who decide to renovate will often have to prioritize their projects and implement them over time. For them, it is important to have a master plan to avoid costly missteps.

Learn more: Preparing to Renovate Your House

Getting started

Our homes are at once a practical background for daily life, a personal expression of our values, and often the biggest investment we make.  We intend a good fit-- the house should function well, reflect our values, and provide a supportive atmosphere.

We offer homeowners several design services to identify which changes will make the most sense for their house and circumstances, and how best to accomplish what they want within their budget. Our suggestions and designs are appropriate for its character and period of design, and we emphasize the ones least disruptive. Contact us if you would like to discuss your plans or set an appointment.

Learn more: Remodel or Remuddle?

Design consultations

If we have time in our schedule, we offer Seattle area residents design consultations to help bring home renovation projects into focus and clarify their options. Cost of a one-time consultation with Tim varies, depending on the complexity of the project. For consultations beyond Seattle metro, we can sometimes make special arrangements.

The consultation takes place at your site and includes:

1. Before we meet, we will review any materials you send, like photos, as-built drawings, or list of your objectives.  

2. We will check parcel data for your site and make computations to see what constraints or limits will be imposed. 

3. We meet at the house (or site) at a convenient time for a walk-through while listening to your objectives, ideas and concerns.

4. We discuss design options that could satisfy your objectives while appropriate for the period and style of house. If there are as-built drawings, we will likely sketch designs and explore alternatives.  

Consultations have a fixed fee depending on their complexity:

Smaller projects
For a small renovation or addition, like a new kitchen-family room, master suite, or backyard cottage.

Larger projects
For extensive house renovations and additions or to rework the existing layout.

Projects with detailed summary
For more detailed design recommendations and findings we provide the services listed above plus a written summary. Consultations move quickly and cover many topics. The summary will emphasize the key ideas and main take-aways.

Master plans

After an initial design consultation, you may want to prepare a master plan. This provides a road map for development of the house and suggests the incremental steps to realize it. First, we must have accurate scaled drawings of the house as it is. If they are not available, they will have to be made. The as-built plans, section and elevations are the basis of design and each following step through construction.  Next, we will develop with you an optimal scheme for your project. Starting with sketches, the drawings become more detailed and precise as the project comes together. Once you settle on a scheme, we prepare a set of measured drawings to record the master plan. They allow contractors to understand the scope of work and to make a cost estimate for specific phases. 

Fee for the master plan depends on scope and complexity of the project but a common budget for our time is about 80 hours.

Clients find we are able to translate their desires into a successful projects. Most of our clients have high expectations for their homes, the quality of our work, and satisfaction in the process. Check out some of our reviews on Houzz

Our work

            In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of             principle, stand like a rock.  Thomas Jefferson

Practicing architecture for over forty years I see the profession is subject to a convergence of social, economic and political forces that drive design. Momentum within the profession is strong but everchanging as a river. For architects, wherever they jump in the cultural currents carry them along. This is not what most thought coming into the profession.  We expected to have a role inventing a future that led to new and compelling visions. We were more like the ant careening down a mountain stream on a log who sticks a leg in the water and says "Look, I'm steering!" 

Some architects may not want to go with the flow. Better for them to find a niche. That was my situation and I naturally gravitated to historic preservation through interests in cultural history, building traditions and creating coherent places.

After decades of working with clients, contractors, and craftspeople it is clear that all architectural work is collaborative. The quality of the work depends on the character and aspirations of the people involved. I aspired to do good work and found in collaboration clarity of vision and persuasive powers were probably the architect's most important skills. Without them an alarming number of things can go wrong and spoil a good design.  

I was fortunate my earliest projects were restorations of Arts & Crafts (1900-1920) houses in Pasadena California, because aspirations for all involved-- clients, builders, lenders, city agencies and me-- were much the same. The restorations came out remarkably well since the buildings were of such high quality. 

At the beginning of the 20th century Pasadena was a favored winter retreat for people from the Midwest. The mild climate of Southern California, the city's beautiful setting against the mountains and lush gardens seemed a Garden of Eden. Many visitors decided to stay.  Their affluence and sense of romance was apparent in the residences they built. By 1920 the city had consolidated and was developing a distinctive civic and cultural character. This attracted talented and capable people, and their legacy persisted through the 1960s when I grew up there.

We visited Pasadena recently and had time to wander some of my favorite neighborhoods. So many remarkable buildings are restored now, and it is a pleasure to see. I thought, how could anyone grow up here and not become an architect?

But in the 1970s when I became involved in preservation Pasadena was in trouble-- racial trouble, and a freeway project that cut through the heart of the city, bulldozing hundreds of bungalows, and polarizing neighborhoods north and south of the barrier. "Freeway access" drew developers eager to cash in. Older neighborhoods were up zoned to multi-family. A developer could buy a lot, knock down a bungalow and fill the lot with six cheap condos. Other than Greene and Greene's Gamble House, few Art & Crafts houses were preserved and restored.  
Many of us were appalled by the losses and organized preservation efforts. I became an advocate of the city's pre-WW II heritage and was appointed to the Cultural Heritage Commission. I also gave informal advice to homeowners attempting to restore their bungalows. Where misguided improvements had muddled the design, I recommended removing them and recovering lost features that once gave their house its distinctive look. 

We discovered that restoring the house's original integrity also recovered its character and charm. I began to understand that architectural development was more than a fashion parade of styles, and there was historic continuity in building traditions. They embodied a wealth of ideas, common sense, and aesthetic pleasures that could be continued in new work. I saw a renewed role for architects to be part of a living tradition--to adapt, invent, and move it forward.

In practice this meant a more responsive approach. That is, architects making an effort to understand the historical context of the sites and buildings they worked with, preserving their integrity, and modifying them with respect for the original settings.  

This was contrary to the prevailing Modern view of heroic architects conquering tradition to create unique and personal expressions. But it
turned out to be quite satisfying work and was always well received. Clients expect their architects to solve the problems they identify, not create their own agenda to make personal "statements." Duh. 

Working with historical buildings also opened my eyes to pre-modern skills that had been lost, like attention to scale, proportion, balance and craft-- all important prior to1950. The steady drumbeat of Modernism and economic imperatives in general had so diminished architectural character that most new buildings were dull or worse. In contrast the historical buildings we worked on were charming. Society too had changed. Civic aspirations and good neighbor policies were no longer respected in development. New buildings often replaced ones of better quality, and as the losses mounted many of us began to question the value of redevelopment altogether.  

We thought other architects would take notice and join us in supporting preservation and traditional design, but the mainstream profession remained captive to Modernism. In their groupthink the thought of extending historical traditions to new buildings was blasphemy: "False history. Disneyland." Traditional architects like us could be dismissed as unimaginative and mired in the past.

Now that Modernism has been around for over a century it is itself a historic style. Neo-modern architecture popular today is largely visions of the future past, only blown-out to unprecedented proportions. 

When I came to the University of Washington in 1989 my office also moved from Pasadena to Seattle. I had practiced in Pasadena and taught at Otis-Parsons and Art Center College for ten years prior. I found I loved teaching and decided to pursue an academic position. At UW I earned a Master of Architecture degree and co-taught graduate studios with Folke Nyberg.   

Since the mid-1990s most of our projects have been in Washington.  The approach remains the same, to work empathetically with our clients and building traditions. My focus has shifted to spend more time writing and publishing. There are several book projects in the works, including a monograph on a forgotten pre-modern artist and architect and a plan book of small houses designed from historic precedents--and of course I want to keep dancing! 

See Opinion section for my recent essays, and Cottage Classics for our small building plans. 

Tim Andersen

Fay, Tim and Ting at Engelsbergs Bruk studio in Sweden
Okay, we also love to dance. Here I am with the dance fitness gang.
Katie Moore Zumba jammer
Tim Andersen Architect, Meli Kirkwood Zumba jammer
That's Zumba jammer Meli Kirkwood after a wild 90 minute set. She's not even tired.
Tim Andersen architect
Jhon Gonzalez, Tim Andersen architect
Jhon Gonzalez was in town and ran a hip hop session for us with his latest choreography. Jhon's moves are amazing, fast and sharp, and he has perfect rhythm. I hate him.