Architects Give Their Take On Nature-Inspired Designs

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Ten talented architects lead the way with site-specific designs that engage with nature.

PHOTO: BENNY CHAN | FOTOWORKS

CAVIN AND CLAIRE COSTELLO

Phoenix | theranchmine.com

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PHOTO: ROEHNER + RYAN

OUR TAKE: The rapidly urbanizing landscape of Phoenix lends itself to Cavin and Claire Costello’s innovative approach, which is driven by their pioneering spirit. Their three-pronged philosophy is: “Honor the past, challenge the norm and inspire the future.”

IN THEIR WORDS: “Our work blends the vernacular influences of both historic and midcentury Arizona with modern desert living. Clean, powerful geometries use sun and shade to create dynamic simplicity with organic details.”

FUTURE PLANS: The Costellos are starting to work on Aliado, a renovation and addition to a midcentury-modern house in Scottsdale, Arizona, originally designed by Charles Schreiber and Arthur Schreiber. The renovation opens up the house for indoor-outdoor living, and focuses on restoring the curb appeal in an area where tear-downs are all too common.

JONATHAN FELDMAN

San Francisco | feldmanarchitecture.com

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PHOTO: PAUL DYER

OUR TAKE: Jonathan Feldman’s homes are akin to poetic odes: They pay tribute to Mother Nature, enhancing the natural beauty of a site. His designs aim to balance boldness with simplicity while always keeping an eye on sustainability.

IN HIS WORDS: “Nature is so beautiful in Northern California, and we are lucky to be designing on some spectacular properties. Our clients tend to be very open-minded to new ways of thinking about design, and as a whole they are committed to minimizing their ecological footprint, which is so important to us.”

FUTURE PLANS: On the heels of his first design of a restaurant in Oakland, Feldman is working on a funky Santa Cruz, California, surf house, corporate offices in the new Salesforce Tower and multiple Napa winery projects.

ANIK PEARSON

New York | aparch.net

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PHOTO: JOHN WALLEN

OUR TAKE: Anik Pearson’s seasoned practice lends itself to historical preservation, residential projects and furniture design; her custom installations and metalwork case goods blend seamlessly into the spaces she creates.

IN HER WORDS: “The people who live in New York City come from all cultures and provenances. There’s every type of building, from colonial and minimalist to traditional and contemporary. As a result, there is no lack of choice or inspiration for design projects.”

FUTURE PLANS: An Upper West Side duplex apartment from 1919 offers Pearson the opportunity to showcase her clients’ art collection by recreating an historic artist’s studio inspired by the era’s American Beaux-Arts style.

JEFFREY ALLSBROOK AND SILVIA KUHLE

Los Angeles | standardarchitecture.com

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PHOTO: BENNY CHAN | FOTOWORKS

OUR TAKE: Homes by Standard Architecture beckon attention for their clean lines and imaginative structures. Led by partners Jeffrey Allsbrook and Silvia Kuhle, the team is not afraid to edit design down to its purest forms, welcoming people into spaces where shape and structure don’t overpower, but coexist.

IN THEIR WORDS: “The Southern California climate and flora are paradisal. The sunlight is so consistent here that filtering it in different ways animates the interiors.”

FUTURE PLANS: A large addition and remodel of a 1920s Spanish house is in the works, featuring a two-story library and atrium that integrates the original fireplace into new bookshelves. Plus, Standard just began work on a coffee shop on Hollywood Boulevard.

MAX STRANG

Miami | strangarchitecture.com

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PHOTO: CLAUDIO MANZONI

OUR TAKE: You’ll recognize Max Strang’s work by his architectural signatures: deep overhangs and dramatic facades. His design style pays homage to the Florida modernism of his youth and its site-specific structures.

IN HIS WORDS: “Modernism loves the tropics and subtropics. Bright sunlight and deep shadows enable bold designs with sharp, crisp lines. I really enjoy letting the sun-controlling features become the architectural identity of the building.”

FUTURE PLANS: Strang and his team will soon begin construction on The Fairchild, a 26-unit boutique condominium project in Coconut Grove. With the addition of his new Sarasota office to his existing locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Strang is excited to support clients on his native coast.

MELODY EMERICK

Portland | emerick-architects.com

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PHOTO: LINCOLN BARBER

OUR TAKE: When drafting a plan, Melody Emerick visualizes how the space will truly be inhabited in order to understand the site and to make sure to include an element of humor.

IN HER WORDS: “Portland is known for its depth of talented craftspeople, and we are so fortunate to be able to tap into these passionate individuals. Whether it’s an electrician helping us develop a new lighting system or a cabinetmaker executing a complicated wood detail, they are the ones who make our projects look great.”

FUTURE PLANS: Emerick is working on a wellness center nestled in the scenic Columbia River Gorge area. She also just finished a remodel of a midcentury home with views of Lake Oswego.

CELESTE ROBBINS

Winnetka, IL | robbins-architecture.com

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PHOTO: STEVE HALL HALL+MERRICK

OUR TAKE: Using a minimal yet warm aesthetic, Celeste Robbins celebrates natural light and materials in her work.

IN HER WORDS: “Living near Lake Michigan is a constant reminder of the strength nature plays in our design dialogue. What’s most memorable in each design are timeless qualities of warmth, serenity and livability.”

FUTURE PLANS: Robbins is working on a beachfront vacation home on Lake Michigan and a glassy modern home in Deerfield, Illinois–both of which feature open living spaces.

DILLON KYLE

Houston | dkarc.com

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PHOTO: SCOTT FRANCES/OTTO

OUR TAKE: DKA principal and founder Dillon Kyle brings a distinct contemporary style to a city characterized by heritage homes of traditional aesthetics. The firm’s affinity for sleek lines and open spaces creates homes and commercial sites that welcome second glances.

IN HIS WORDS: “Houston does not have a particularly remarkable landscape: It is not home to mountains or a dramatic coastline, so the setting presents an unusual opportunity for architecture to make a place more beautiful. Architecture must be sensitive and respectful to its setting. At the same time, it shouldn’t take itself too seriously.”

FUTURE PLANS: Upcoming DKA projects include a kitchen remodel in a post-war traditional home, a high-rise penthouse unit and new construction residences with an outdoor living focus.

BURTON BALDRIDGE

Austin | baldridge-architects.com

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PHOTO: CASEY DUNN

OUR TAKE: We subscribe to Baldridge Architects’ philosophy that buildings should be designed with a certain level of permanence in mind. Burton Baldridge believes spaces should stand the test of time.

IN HIS WORDS: “There are so many talented small firms in Austin doing work with real meaning and importance. I live and breathe design, but I could do that anywhere. I can forgive Austin for its traffic and its blistering summers because, simply put, it is a great place to be.”

FUTURE PLANS: Baldridge has residential projects in Wyoming and Fort Worth in the works, as well as the Arrive Hotel in East Austin.

JEFF PELLETIER

Seattle | boardandvellum.com

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OUR TAKE: Since discovering Lego blocks at the age of 2, Jeff Pelletier knew he wanted to be an architect. He believes a tour of one’s home should take a long time–not because it’s large, but because there are details in each room that tell different stories worth sharing.

IN HIS WORDS: “I really love that there is a great population of people in Seattle who are not only really proud of their city and region, but will fight to make sure that we protect them, both in terms of respecting the character of the built environment and by making sure we take care of the natural environment, too.”

FUTURE PLANS: Board & Vellum is working on an interior design project for a local historic collegiate Greek house, as well as a horse sanctuary outside of Seattle and an urban park in North Seattle.

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