Substance Architecture


substance the real or essential part of anything; essence, reality, or basic matter.

Creating architecture of substance requires searching for the essential—the essential character of a place, property of a material, nature of a problem, and needs of a client. These characteristics transcend time and style to reflect more universal principles. By its nature, this search is reductive. It distills often complex and seemingly divergent desires into a unified, irreducible whole—the basic matter.

Searching for the essential involves two fundamental procedures: Research and Iteration. Research is broadly defined. It involves asking questions and, more importantly, listening to the answers. Effective problem solving requires, first and foremost, a clear understanding of the problem being solved. No one understands the basic nature of an architectural problem better than the client and end-user, however, this knowledge must be drawn-out and examined. Questions like “what is your competition doing?” and “what do your clients want?” are often as important as “how many file cabinets do you need?” Only rigorous inquiry can completely and accurately define the problem and lay the groundwork for a successful outcome.

As important as research is to defining the architectural problem, the process of iteration is equally critical to finding an optimal solution. Iteration—solving and resolving—elucidates the issues and refines the work. Most architectural problems have multiple solutions; the full range of which can best be discovered by working with our clients to generate alternatives. Ultimately, design is about making choices, and iteration is fundamental to this act of discovery and selection.

It is our fervent belief that both of these procedures best take place in an open studio environment in which ideas are freely shared, discussed, and explored. We believe in dialogue and have organized ourselves accordingly. Our collaborative studio benefits from the fresh ideas of recent graduates tempered by the experience of more seasoned staff and informed by professionals practicing in other visual disciplines. This assures a careful balance between the new and the known working in concert.

This process results in meaningful, functional, often poetic spaces and experiences which serve our clients and advance their goals. It is our hope that in advancing the goals of our clients we are advancing the discipline of architecture as well. This is architecture of substance—intelligently conceived, collaboratively developed, and effectively delivered.

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