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 adapted for life today. We provide full architectural services from initial ideas through construction.
Renovations and additions
We also design renovations and well-integrated additions for houses of all periods and styles. Our special expertise is adapting pre-1960 houses for current needs without losing their historic character and charm.
Should we renovate or build anew?
Good houses are always in demand and close-in available land to build a house is hard to find. Many buyers settle on a less-than-ideal home with the idea of renovating over time to correct its shortcomings. With renovation costs as high as they are some houses are not worth the expense. The money would be better spent on a new house. Homeowners who decide to renovate often have to prioritize and implement smaller projects over time. For them, it is useful to have a master plan and avoid costly missteps.
Homes are at once a practical background for daily life, an expression of our values, and often the biggest investment we will make. We expect 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 will be appropriate for the character of the house, and we emphasize the ones least disruptive. Contact us if you would like to discuss your plans, or set an appointment.
If there is room 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 complexity of project. For consultations beyond Seattle we can sometimes make special arrangements.
The consultation takes place at your site and includes:
1. Before we meet I will review any materials you send, like photos, as-built drawings, or list of your objectives.
2. I will check parcel data for your site and make computations to see what constraints and possibilities we might have.
3. Meet with you at the house (or site) for a walk-through while listening to your objectives, ideas and concerns.
4. Discuss design options that could satisfy your objectives while appropriate for period and style of the house. If you have as-built drawings we would likely sketch designs and explore alternatives.
Fixed fee for consultation is set by the anticipated time involved:
For a small renovation or addition, like a new kitchen-family room, master suite, or backyard cottage, our fee is $360.
For extensive house renovations and additions, or to reassess the layout of existing space, our fee is $480.
Projects Including a Summary
For more detailed design recommendations and findings we can provide the services listed above plus a written summary. Our consultations move quickly and cover many topics. The summary will emphasize key ideas and the main take-aways. Our fee is $600.
After an initial design consultation you may decide to prepare a master plan for the house. This will provide a road map for eventual development and suggest incremental steps along the way. First, we must have accurate scaled drawings of the existing house. If they are not available they will have to be made. These as-built plans, section and elevations are the basis of design and each following step through construction. Next, we develop with you an optimal scheme for the project. Starting with sketches, the drawings become more precise as the design coalesces. Once the scheme is set we prepare a set of drawings, a master plan to record the vision. These drawings will allow contractors to begin assembling project costs and an initial budget for the work.
Fee for master plan depends on the scope and complexity of your 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 these people have high expectations for their homes, the quality of new work, and satisfaction in the process.
Check out some of our reviews on Houzz.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson
In practicing architecture for over forty years I see the profession is subject to a convergence of social, economic and political forces that drive design. The momentum within the profession is strong, but everchanging as a river. For architects, wherever we jump in the cultural currents carry us along. This is not what most of us thought coming into the profession. We expected to invent the future, and lead the flock 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. For them, it is better to find a suitable niche. I naturally gravitated to historic preservation through my interests in cultural history, building traditions and creating coherent places.
Now, after decades of working with clients and contractors, it is also clear that all architectural work is collaborative. The quality of it will depend 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 are probably the architect's most important skills. Without them an alarming number of things can go wrong to spoil a good design.
I was lucky that my earliest projects were restorations of Arts & Crafts (1900-1920) houses in Pasadena California, because the goals for all involved-- clients, builders, lenders, city agencies and me-- were much the same. The projects came out remarkably well.
Pasadena had developed at the beginning of the 20th century when the city was a favored winter retreat for well-to-do visitors from the Midwest. The mild climate, beautiful setting against the mountains, and lush gardens seemed a garden of Eden. Many decided to stay. Their affluence and sense of romance was apparent in the residences and neighborhoods they built. By 1920 the city had consolidated and was developing a distinctive civic and cultural character. It attracted talented and capable people. This legacy remained mostly intact through the 1960s, during the period I grew up there.
We visited Pasadena last March and I had time to wander my favorite neighborhoods and see many of the buildings I loved. It is obvious to me now what an exceptional place this was. How could someone grow up here and not become an architect?
But in the 1970s Pasadena and its heritage were in trouble-- racial trouble, and a massive freeway project that cut through the heart of the city, polarizing neighborhoods north and south of the barrier. Freeway access drew developers like flies. The City up-zoned older neighborhoods to multi-family. Developers could buy a single lot, tear down a bungalow, and replace it with six cheap condos. Other than Greene and Greene's famous Gamble House, few Art & Crafts houses were being preserved and restored.
Many of us were appalled by the losses and organized preservation efforts. The more I learned the more I became the advocate of the city's pre-WW II heritage. Eventually I was appointed to the Cultural Heritage Commission and also gave informal advice to homeowners restoring their bungalows. Where we saw misguided improvements I recommended removing them, and recovering lost features that once gave these houses their distinctive look.
We soon discovered that restoring the house's original integrity also recovered its character and charm. This was a revelation for me. I saw that architectural development was more than a fashion parade of consumer styles. There was historic continuity in building traditions. As developed, they embodied a wealth of ideas, common sense, and aesthetic pleasures that could be continued in new work. There was a renewed role for architects in a living tradition to adapt, invent, and move it forward.
This was completely contrary to the prevailing Modern view of heroic architects conquering tradition to create unique and personal expressions.
In practice, the more responsive approach meant architects making an effort to understand the historical context of the buildings they worked on, preserving their integrity, and modifying them with respect for the builders' original intensions.
It turned out to be satisfying work and was always well received. Not surprising, clients expect their architects to solve the problems they identify, not create their own to make personal "statements." Working with historical buildings also opened our eyes to pre-modern skills that had been forgotten, like attention to scale, proportion, balance and craft-- all important concerns for architects prior to 1950.
In our view, the steady drumbeat of Modernism and economic imperatives in general had so diminished architectural character that most new buildings were hopelessly dull, or worse, in contrast to the engaging buildings we worked with. Society had also changed. Earlier civic aspirations and good neighbor policies were no longer apparent in development. New buildings often replaced ones of better quality, and as the losses mounted many people began to question the value of redevelopment altogether.
We expected other architects would take notice and join us in supporting preservation and traditional design. But the mainstream profession remained captive to Modernism. The thought of extending historical traditions to new buildings was for them blasphemy: "False history. Disneyland." Traditional architects like us could be dismissed as unimaginative and mired in the past.
Modernism has been around for over a century and is itself a historic style. Today's neo-modern architecture that gets all the media play is in fact a revival of mostly pre-1960 visions, blown-out to a huge and unprecedented scale.
When I came to the University of Washington in 1989 my office also moved from Pasadena to Seattle. I had already practiced in Pasadena and taught at Otis-Parsons and Art Center College for ten years. I loved teaching and intended to pursue an academic position. I earned an M.Arch degree at UW, and also co-taught graduate architecture studios with my mentor and friend 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 personal focus is now shifting to spend more time writing. I have several book projects in the works, including a monograph on a forgotten pre-modern artist/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 essays, and Cottage Classics for some of our small building plans.