We believe that great architecture begins with great relationships with our clients. Design is a collaborative process in which the clients' knowledge of their own needs is as important as the expertise of the architect. One of the unique aspects of our office is that we are both architects and contractors. We can take full responsibility for a project from beginning to end or we can work with an outside contractor. Our process begins with detailed discussions about client objectives, a thorough investigation of the site and research regarding Agency requirements. We then proceed through a three-phase design and construction process that moves from the general to the specific. Each phase is integral to the others and to the success of the building. The three phases are: 1) Design, 2) Construction Documents and 3) Construction Administration.
As a design/build firm, we are able to help clients make informed decisions in every phase because we deeply understand how design affects construction. At each project milestone, we endeavor to strike the right balance between three priorities: Design, Cost and Schedule. Because a building is three-dimensional, a small change in one part of the project requires further changes in other parts of the building. Therefore, the most economical way to proceed is to understand each set of decisions along the way so that revisions are minimal. To ensure that a client fully grasps a design, we schedule regular client meetings and illustrate our plans with computer models, physical models and sketches. We proceed in this same manner with our consultants, such as mechanical engineers and structural engineers.
Good design is grounded in a strong concept that responds to the site and client vision with an economical solution. Beautiful buildings connect us to our environment, our community, our family and ourselves. Careful modeling of light, proportion and material all contribute to the creation of exceptional architecture. One of the unique aspects of our process is that we design each project down to the smallest detail rather than leaving some details for a contractor to figure out on site. For example, our design specifications encompass everything that is attached to the building, including such details as the tile, stone, doorknobs, interior and exterior lights, mechanical registers, and faucets.
There are two ways to control cost. First, during Design, the architect and client must communicate about how each new set of aesthetic decisions will affect budget and schedule. Second, the architect must carefully draw and specify every component of the building in order to receive an accurate cost projection. A contractor is only responsible for bidding on the information included in the construction drawing sets and specifications. If information is omitted, a contractor can provide a deceptively low bid and then charge the client for changes during construction. When we work as the architect and contractor, there is no incentive for us to under-bid a project because we are fully accountable to our client for all cost estimating. When we do work with outside contractors, we protect our clients from receiving an errant low bid through a complete set of construction drawings and specifications.
Our goal is to create long lasting relationships with all of our clients. Therefore, we want to protect our clients’ financial interests and our own by keeping our projects on schedule. If a client’s objective is speed, then the integrated approach of design/build is an ideal way to “fast track” a project. However, if a client’s objective is cost control, then fast-tracking a project is not a good idea as the best way to control cost is through a complete set of construction drawings and specifications.
We believe that excellence in design must go hand in hand with sustainability. In order to find the courage to disturb a delicate landscape or proceed with demolition, we need to know that every project will contribute to a more sustainable way of living. As a design/build firm, we bear witness to each design choice we make on site so there is great incentive for us to collaborate responsibly with Nature.
Among our key considerations are:
- minimal site disruption
- optimization of natural light and ventilation
- passive heating and cooling
- economy of space and materials
- use of locally sourced and responsibly processed materials
- minimization of construction waste.
Among our LEED certified projects are the TreePeople Conference Center, certified LEED Platinum in 2008; and the Glendale Childcare Center, the first LEED Gold certified building in Glendale and the largest rammed earth structure in Southern California.