The DNA of Planned Communities


[The Sea Ranch Lodge, Photo by BUILD LLC] Anyone in a design-related profession toils with the constraints imposed on the objects of their labor. For architects, these come in the form of ever-increasing land use codes, building codes, and community covenants. And to say that these rules have a real effect on houses and buildings is an understatement. In extreme examples, such regulations can all but shape a project. This enforced control of the built environment often seems antithetical to the very innovation and creativity that architecture aims to achieve, and yet it is precisely these constraints that make a place harmonious and exceptional under the right circumstances. For quite some time now, the circumstances we’ve been most fascinated with are those of planned communities. Some planned communities are among the most thoughtful built-environments we’ve experienced, while others are middling or feel like a weak replica of past times
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Architecture as Urban Puzzle Piece


[All images by BUILD LLC] The first thing a passerby might notice about the 602 Flats building, recently completed at the corner of 12th Ave East & East Mercer on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, is one of two forty-foot tall green walls or the solar panel rain screen system. These systems are an uncommon feature for an apartment building, especially in Seattle’s booming market of generic apartment mega-blocks. These wall systems are expressive of the resourcefulness and innovation required to design, permit, develop, and construct a small, multi-family building in Seattle these days. Rising construction costs and a scarcity of tradespeople in the Pacific Northwest required that the architecture team from BUILD LLC implement a laser-focused design strategy that limited the variables. An overwhelmed building department also posed challenges with constantly moving goalposts, necessitating that the owners and design team exercise creative problem solving and a high tolerance for protracted schedule
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S2V 2018


[From left to right: Aaron Freedman, Pete Nelson, Brian Boram, David Branson, Albert Shum, Aaron Pambianco, Mark Carson, Greg Plaunt, John Reynolds, Peter Gray, Kevin Eckert, Sweet Tea Smith] As we do each August for the past 8 years, BUILD LLC and friends departed from our Seattle office and pedaled to Vancouver BC for the 9th annual Seattle to Vancouver invitational charity ride. This is our yearly opportunity to train up to our peak fitness, visit with old friends, and raise awareness and dollars for a worthy cause.
[Photo Credit: Brian Boram] Our official fundraising has now come to an end (though donations toward the cause are always accepted, of course), and as we do to commemorate each ride, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on another safely completed, 188 mile bike ride. While this year’s journey offered more liquid sunshine than most other years, which helped to
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Why Seattle’s New Early Community Outreach Requirement Will Actually Damage the City

Seattle, like many large cities, has a required Design Review process for most large-scale commercial, multifamily and mixed-use projects. This program is run by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and the size thresholds for this program vary by zone and project type. For instance, Design Review is required for a townhouse project in a Low Rise (LR) zone with more than 8 dwelling units. Similarly, Design Review is also required for an apartment building in a Midrise (MR) zone with more than 20 units. According to the SDCI, there are three principle objectives of this Design Review process:
1. To encourage excellence in site planning and design of projects such that they enhance the character of the City.
2. To provide flexibility in the application of development standards.
3. To improve communication and participation among developers, neighbors and the City early in the process. This design review
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Sensibilities and Intuitions of the Master Designer; an Interview with Cecil Balmond, part 2


[Images courtesy of Balmond Studio] Last summer, BUILD met with engineer-architect-artist, Cecil Balmond at his London Studio to discuss his most recent projects and the thinking behind his experimental design process. Prior to opening Balmond Studio, his career spanned 40-plus years at Ove Arup & Partners where he worked on pioneering projects with renowned architects all over the globe. Balmond discussed the notion of architecture in a dynamic environment, the designer’s intuition, and his most recent projects. For part 1 of the conversation, hop over to ARCADE Magazine, Issue 36.1, available in print and on their website. Tell us about your previous role as Deputy Chairman at Arup, where you led thousands of engineers and architects.
There were seven of us on the board of directors at Arup and I was head of building business globally with around 6,000 people under my supervision. When I joined, Arup was
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A BUILD Shift


[Photos by BUILD LLC] From the earliest days, BUILD has operated with the clear intention of being generalists in an increasingly specialized world and working within a framework of adaptability and agility, with a focus on action. We are a service-based company with the primary goal of championing our client’s interests while, in the old adage, striving to leave each (client, place, relationship) better than we found it.
 

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” -R. Buckminster Fuller

 
As a firm, we’ve created many projects, weathered many storms, fostered many relationships and have made numerous incremental adjustments in our approach and our identity. As with any enterprise, we’ve gone through shifts in the past, and recently, we identified an opportunity to sharpen our focus and make changes to improve our firm. With a renewed focus of our internal team and on how to best serve our clients
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The Park Modern Turns 10


[Photo by BUILD LLC] The University District’s mixed-use Park Modern building recently turned ten years old, and the project offers a wealth of knowledge in Seattle’s current real estate market. Having weathered a decade’s worth of gray winters, a great recession, and the daily wear and tear of an urban environment, it’s an appropriate time for a performance review. The Seattle building’s footprint was configured to optimize the small 7,500sf site, an area equivalent to 1.5 single family home sites. Two small, adjacent parcels had been purchased and combined, which allowed the project to have critical mass in scale as well as enough value for construction financing. Although a project of smaller margins, this type of bootstrapping may be even more relevant with today’s challenges of creating affordable housing using modestly scaled infill projects. As available City lots are becoming scarce, while the city’s population continues to grow, the
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The Park Modern Turns 10


[Photo by BUILD LLC] The University District’s mixed-use Park Modern building recently turned ten years old and the project offers a wealth of knowledge in Seattle’s current real estate market. Having weathered a decade’s worth of gray winters, a great recession, and the daily wear and tear of an urban environment, it’s an appropriate time for a performance review. The Seattle building’s footprint was configured to optimize the small 7,500sf site, an area equivalent to 1.5 single family home sites. Two small, adjacent parcels had been purchased and combined, which allowed the project to have critical mass in scale as well as enough value for construction financing. Although a project of smaller margins, this type of bootstrapping may be even more relevant with today’s challenges of creating affordable housing using modestly scaled infill projects. As available City lots are becoming scarce, while the city’s population continues to grow, the
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Open Letter to the Mayor

Dear Mayor Durkan, We welcome you to office and admire your direct and candid comments regarding the issues of affordable housing and homelessness shared during your campaign. Your initiatives reflect the concerns of the community at large and your position resonates with many in the community. As you are transitioning from advocate/ candidate, to head of a Seattle in need of steady leadership, all while balancing many voices and agendas, we want to provide you with the collective information that we think will aid your success as mayor of Seattle. You and your opponent spent much of your respective campaigns discussing our current population growth and impacts on our city as well as potential policy changes in Urban Design and building development for Seattle. We have been engaged in this conversation professionally and personally for some time. We’ve taken the opportunity to first get facts and figures straight regarding Seattle’s
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Architectural Origins, Educations and Risks; A Conversation with Steven Holl and Ed Weinstein, Part 2


[Steven Holl and Ed Weinstein, photo by BUILD LLC] Last summer, BUILD sat down with Steven Holl and Ed Weinstein in Seattle’s Pike Place Market to discuss their humble beginnings, their common educational paths, and the life experiences that produced two distinctively successful architecture practices. For part 1 of the conversation, hop over to ARCADE Magazine, Issue 35.3, available in print and on their website. You’ve both been described as individuals who completely dedicated themselves to the practice of architecture. What has this entailed in your own lives?
Steven Holl: I think for me, architecture was the right thing to do. It’s something you believe in. I never had a doubt. I wasn’t going to do commercial work, but there were doubts I could survive and that’s why teaching was important. Then my firm won some competitions, like the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki in 1993, which
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Curbless Shower Guide


[Photo by BUILD LLC] Kicking off the first post for the new year, we’re diving right into a technical post with our BUILD Manual series. For this fourth edition, we’re covering our curbless shower detail. We’ve fine-tuned this detail over many years, and we’ve implemented it regularly with great results, so it was time to create its own guide. The seamless floor transition from the bathroom to shower area creates a clean-lined aesthetic that looks great and functions well. The removal of the curb allows for ease of entry into the shower area and makes cleaning the floor straightforward. Our detail guide shows how we put this together, both for a framed floor and a slab on grade application. For more coverage on the curbless shower, check out our previous post on the subject.
[Click for downloadable image] Check out our previous BUILD Guides, and stay tuned for the next
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Curbless Shower Guide


[Photo by BUILD LLC] Kicking off the first post for the new year, we’re diving right into a technical post with our BUILD Manual series. For this fourth edition, we’re covering our curbless shower detail. We’ve fine-tuned this detail over many years, and we’ve implemented it regularly with great results, so it was time to create its own guide. The seamless floor transition from the bathroom to shower area creates a clean-lined aesthetic that looks great and functions well. The removal of the curb allows for ease of entry into the shower area and makes cleaning the floor straightforward. Our detail guide shows how we put this together, both for a framed floor and a slab on grade application. For more coverage on the curbless shower, check out our previous post on the subject.
[Click for downloadable image] Check out our previous BUILD Guides, and stay tuned for the next
Continue reading "Curbless Shower Guide"

Curbless Shower Guide


[Photo by BUILD LLC] Kicking off the first post for the new year, we’re diving right into a technical post with our BUILD Manual series. For this fourth edition, we’re covering our curbless shower detail. We’ve fine-tuned this detail over many years, and we’ve implemented it regularly with great results, so it was time to create its own guide. The seamless floor transition from the bathroom to shower area creates a clean-lined aesthetic that looks great and functions well. The removal of the curb allows for ease of entry into the shower area and makes cleaning the floor straightforward. Our detail guide shows how we put this together, both for a framed floor and a slab on grade application. For more coverage on the curbless shower, check out our previous post on the subject.
[Click for downloadable image] Check out our previous BUILD Guides, and stay tuned for the next
Continue reading "Curbless Shower Guide"

Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Encouraging better development


[Image by BUILD LLC] Seattle is currently experiencing unprecedented population growth along with record setting development. This is challenging the city’s growth management and it’s bringing city zoning and building code decisions to the forefront of the discussion. As architects and Seattleites deeply concerned with the quality of life and well-being of the communities around us, we’ve been thinking a great deal about the codes and policies that regulate our built environment (or in some instances, don’t it regulate properly). It’s a critical moment in Seattle, and calibrating the city’s policies correctly could result in vibrant neighborhoods that support diversity, inclusion, and quality of life. Conversely, making uninformed decisions or failing to make decisions altogether won’t just result in urban paralysis, it will bleed Seattle of its character and quality of life. In 2014, Seattle launched the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) which gathered the collective research and wisdom
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Header Alignment Guide


[All images by BUILD LLC] The alignment of windows, doors and siding breaks at the exterior of a residence or building is a subtle detail that brings harmony and an intention to a project. It’s an indicator of a careful design process and a mindful construction sequence. But when alignment doesn’t occur between exterior features, the composition can be a significant distraction from an otherwise congruent building envelope. The most challenging of these to accomplish is maintaining a clean horizontal line around a structure above doors and windows at the siding break. Because each door and window system has its own logic and assembly, much of the design exercise deals with finding a common denominator between the different systems and the siding. The top of a window flange, for instance, attaches straight to the framing, while some sliding door systems require a significant space between the door track head and
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Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight

There’s a heightened discussion in Seattle lately around the overwhelming population growth the city is facing, along with the increasing demand of the housing necessary to accommodate everyone. The topic of housing (or lack thereof) has become a critical platform for the politicians, a code-red concern for neighborhoods and, if you’re in the design world, it’s the primary topic of discussion at most professional gatherings. The tension on the subject of housing right now in Seattle has reached its boiling point and BUILD will be launching a series of blog posts on the topic to help clarify the issues, give voice to good solutions, and better educate ourselves and our community on the situation. One noticeable aspect that’s confusing the conversation around Seattle’s housing crisis is the lack of consistent information. It seems that every time we get into a discussion about population growth in Seattle, different statistics are declared
Continue reading "Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight"

Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight

There’s a heightened discussion in Seattle lately around the overwhelming population growth the city is facing, along with the increasing demand of the housing necessary to accommodate everyone. The topic of housing (or lack thereof) has become a critical platform for the politicians, a code-red concern for neighborhoods and, if you’re in the design world, it’s the primary topic of discussion at most professional gatherings. The tension on the subject of housing right now in Seattle has reached its boiling point and BUILD will be launching a series of blog posts on the topic to help clarify the issues, give voice to good solutions, and better educate ourselves and our community on the situation. One noticeable aspect that’s confusing the conversation around Seattle’s housing crisis is the lack of consistent information. It seems that every time we get into a discussion about population growth in Seattle, different statistics are declared
Continue reading "Seattle’s Housing Crisis: Getting the Facts Straight"

S2V 2017


[From left to right: Todd Plaunt, Andrew van Leeuwen, Pete Nelson, Michael Smith, Mark Carson, Brian Boram, Kevin Eckert, Albert Shum, Jeff Johnson, Peter Gray, Aaron Pambianco, Paul Jaqua, Chris Mears, Blair Casey, Brandon Boudreaux, Greg Plaunt, Bill Weigand] Something remarkable happened this last summer. Each year, at the end of August, we round up our comrades and ride for two days from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s a chance to close our laptops, get some serious fitness, and spend time with an exceptional crew of individuals, all while enjoying the spectacle of summer in the Pacific Northwest. Like every year, we carefully chose a compelling non-profit organization to direct our contributions to, and, like every year, we called on our community to contribute to that organization. This year we made an especially unreasonable financial goal, doubling our initial pledge, and asked our community to dig deep and give
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Time, Place and Culture: An Interview with Dean Sakamoto on the Work of Vladimir Ossipoff, part 2


[University of Hawaii, photo by Victoria Sambunaris] Last winter, BUILD met with architect Dean Sakamoto on Oahu to talk about the late Hawaiian modernist architect Vladimir Ossipoff (1907-1998). Sakamoto operates an architecture practice in Honolulu and guest curated the 2007–2008 exhibit Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Sakamoto is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on Ossipoff, known as the master of Hawaiian architecture within the postwar phenomenon of tropical modernism. We talked about the challenges of getting to know Ossipoff’s work, the architect’s life, and his design response to the Hawaiian environment. Check out part 1 of the interview in ARCADE Magazine, Issue 35.2, available in print and on their website. Why did it take an outsider like Vladimir Ossipoff to provide Hawaii with a timeless modernism?
Hawaii was a very isolated place then and he always saw himself
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Flush Base Guide


[Photo by BUILD LLC] Our second edition of the BUILD Manual covers an interior flush base design that we’ve been refining for years, and we’re at a good point to share the detail along with the relevant technicalities and construction methods. The minimal aesthetic and durability have made it a favorite detail at BUILD, and we design it into most of our residential projects. It also integrates nicely with windows, doors, and cabinetry. While it’s a bit more intricate than an applied base, we’ve found that once the trades are trained on the detail, it’s a straightforward and reliable application. We’ve covered the various transitions using the flush base detail here and here.
[Click for downloadable jpeg] Stay tuned for additional BUILD Guides which cover the design and construction details of modern architecture, and cheers from team BUILD.