Collaborations

The Evolution of a Stair

Oct 27, 2014 by Christina Kwiecienski

stair details

It’s amazing what creative solutions can emerge when collaboration is at play. The evolution of this stair in particular is a result of an exquisite collaborative effort between architecture and engineering. We worked directly with our structural engineer, Bill Harrison, to find a solution that embodies our client’s vision for this project. As the design progressed (from left to right on the image above), we wanted to enhance one of the most innovative features of this stair - the perforated metal mesh. The mesh seems to defy the laws of gravity as it floats upward, bending continuously to act as both stair riser and tread. The owners were also very helpful in communicating their preferences as we shared each option. The design would not have evolved in the same way without the necessary and valuable structural input from an engineer that understands the essence of the design. What a beautiful partnership!

Collaborations: Bill Harrison, structural engineer

Oct 14, 2013 by Hiromi Ogawa

We wouldn’t be where we are today without Bill: structural engineer, collaborator, supporter, and friend.

We have been working with Bill Harrison of Sarah Leong Consulting Engineers since we started our practice in 2003.  In fact, Hiromi has done projects with him since her days at Sutton Suzuki Architects, so they have known each other for almost 15 years!

And there is a reason we still work together after all these years.  Bill is intelligent, prompt, and thorough in his engineering services.  But what really distinguishes him is his creativity, and ability to understand our design intent.  Instead of applying prescriptive structural solutions, Bill will work with us to find options that best fit the design.

The best collaborations are the ones where our collective ideas make the project better than we imagined, and Bill does just that.  Thank you, Bill!

Client Collaborations: Layout and flow

Sep 10, 2013 by Hiromi Ogawa

Our proudest and most successful designs are a product of true collaboration between us and the client.  When the client can articulate their needs and wants, and we, in turn, can respond to those needs with a design solution that incorporates function and aesthetics, it’s like magic.  And we really can’t do it on our own; an open, trusting, and design-savvy client is the key to a successful design solution.

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This kitchen used to be in a small, enclosed room.  The owners wanted an open kitchen, a place that can be the hub of family activity.  By adding a family room to the rear of the house, the kitchen really opened up and the whole house flowed better.

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The owners for this home wanted to use their existing space more effectively, while finding better storage and flow overall.  By converting the rear breakfast area into a mud room, the family gained a useful back entrance, and kitchen became more defined.

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While designing a two-bedroom two-bath addition to this house, the owners expressed interest in a "book nook" - a multi-purpose niche for relaxing.  By making the nook large enough for a futon, it also doubles as an extra bed for guests.  I love this idea of creating a space that is neither public (living room, dining room) nor private (bedroom).  And it doesn't need to be big!

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It's hard to believe that there was only a 2'-6" wide opening between the dining room and kitchen when we started this project.  The owners are wonderful cooks and wanted to really open up to the kitchen and the back yard.  There are a series of small moves - oversizing the wall opening, extending the kitchen cabinets into the dining room, placing a large bifold window at the end - that helps make this kitchen feel spacious and open. See our previous post for more client collaborations!

Client Collaborations: Details

Aug 20, 2013 by Hiromi Ogawa

Our proudest and most successful designs are a product of true collaboration between us and the client.  When the client can articulate their needs and wants, and we, in turn, can respond to those needs with a design solution that incorporates function and aesthetics, it's like magic.  And we really can't do it on our own; an open, trusting, and design-savvy client is the key to a successful design solution.

One Room at a Time

This one is an oldie (this project is from 2005!) but a goodie.  The clients were both artists, and they were open to anything, which was exciting and fun.  Every detail was discussed - the countertop-to-cabinet relationship, the skylight-to-tile detail.  And the custom sink cabinet (with holes that doubled as towel bar and cabinet pull) is still a favorite.  It's one of our first projects, and set us on a course to tackle every project with and same kind of rigor and curiosity.

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This one is another favorite.  This family was excellent at assessing their display and storage needs, and it prompted us to look at every nook and cranny as an opportunity.  The space under the stair was no exception.  Our interpretation of the Japanese step chest not only fulfilled the clients' need for art display, but also blended with the overall aesthetic of the project.

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Creating a jewel-like powder room is always a treat.  Since powder rooms are typically small and lightly used, they are the perfect place to experiment or have a little fun.  We juxtaposed traditional (mirror, wallpaper) with modern (wall-mounted sink) so that the room felt stately and playful at the same time. Our next post will be about how collaborations with our clients can make an impact on a much larger scale: overall layout and design concept.

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