Le Dîner en Blanc – Seattle

Back in 2010, I was searching for something special for my husband Tolga’s birthday, when I got an email from an old client inviting me to be one of the “Gentil Organisateurs” (GO) to host a table for the first ever Le Dîner en Blanc in Seattle – A flash-mob style dinner where everyone dresses in white, appears at a public area without any official city permits. The location is quietly announced to the GO’s only 3 hours before the Dîner.


The most important rule, the “mob” must arrive at the same time! And we do, for the 4th year now, with a party that has grown to over 500 participants… equipped fully with tables and chairs, porcelain plates, white linens, and silverware.  Tables are decorated with Balinese parasols, white summer flowers; women wearing whimsical head pieces, silk gloves, light up feather hats, men in tutus, white tuxedos, and anything else you can think of as long as it’s white.


The Dîner starts with everyone waving their napkins in the air and cheering. Each guest brings hor d’oeuvres, and delicious deserts to be served on beautiful platters, while champagne flows through fountains. As the sun is replaced by a beautiful moonlight (and this year it was the largest full moon of the season) candelabras are lit, people start dancing to the violin or the accordion, mingling, laughing, enjoying the summer evening, and our beautiful Seattle skyline.

the food

During planning, I always complain how much work it is to put everything together, but while it’s happening, I’m truly mesmerized by the beauty of the evening… This year Le Dîner took place on Pier 62/63 which is scheduled to be demolished this fall – so we wanted say goodbye.


The waterfront was packed with people taking pictures with curiosity. One foreign tourist asked Tolga what this party was for, and Tolga responded that it was for speed dating, and asked if he wanted to join!! The man was so confused!!


The evening ended with sparklers true to tradition, while we all cheered and congratulated each other for this beautiful evening.


These iPhone photos (some taken by fellow co-worker and attendee Ben) don’t do it justice. You can find better images on the Seattle Times Article and also the Puget Sound Business Journal Article.

Summer Hikes by Ryan

Warning: this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with architecture or design. Please read at your own risk.

This summer I have been exploring the mountains of the Pacific Northwest in search of some fun hikes in my free time between the office expansion, softball, and a bunch of other trips… My girlfriend (Steph) and I set a goal to hike over 100 miles this summer.  We have quite a ways to go… We have hiked plus or minus 54 miles so far. Here are my field notes for some of the hikes we have done this summer. If you click on the hike names it will take you to the Washington Trails Association Website and give you more information about the hikes.

Grand Valley

This was a really fun one out in the Olympic National Park (which is my favorite area to visit).  You start by driving down the narrow steep dirt road for about 45 minutes.  When you hit the trail head, you hike along a ridge for a while and then descend down into the valley.  Once in the valley there are lots of huckleberries ripe for the picking. This can add some time to the hike, <cough, cough> Steph. Keep hiking through the valley to arrive at Grand Lake.  It’s a very calm protected area with the mountains springing up all around.  We saw a doe and two baby deer walking around.  When you are ready to start heading back you can go back the same way you came in or you can make it a loop hike and go through Badger Valley (the long cut).  If you choose this option (highly recommended) make sure you save some energy for the end because it is a steep hike out.  We maybe saw all of six people the whole time.  Here are a few pictures we took.

Grand Valley (1) Grand Valley (2) Grand Valley (3) Grand Valley (4)

Wallace Falls

This is a fun hike out in the Central Cascades.  There are three waterfalls on the way to the top. I enjoyed this hike because there are a lot of great lookout points and the waterfalls are really cool. Unfortunately, Wallace Falls is a very popular and an incredibly crowded hike.  If you want to check this one out I would recommend trying during the middle of the week. Here are some pictures that we took.

Wallace Falls (2) Wallace Falls (1)

Hoh-River Rainforest Trail

This is another Olympic hike.  I highly recommend this trail even though it gets a lot of traffic you can still get large separation between groups.  On this hike you walk along the river for most of the way.  The views are awesome with lots of old growth and wildlife.  Here are a few picture we took.

Hoh River (1) Hoh River (2) Hoh River (3)

Sauk Mountain 

This Hike is out around the North Cascades. It is a short 45 minutes to an hour hike to the top.  Some of the best views I have had are at the top.  Firefighters even use it as a lookout for forest fires.  We hiked this one on the 4th of July so its hard to say how much traffic it normally gets, but regardless of how many people are on this trail it is still worth checking out. Here are a few images we took.

Sauk Mountian (1) Sauk Mountian (2)

Ira Spring Trail

Located near the Snoqualmie Pass, this hike is quite the climb up, but wow is it worth it!  I would highly recommend trying it on a clear day, because if you are lucky you can see awesome views of Rainier.  This hike really has it all, views, wild flowers, lakes, berries…  At the top of the hike you get to a big lake and there are lots of little trails that shoot off all around.  Because this hike is so fully loaded it does attract quite a few people but if you get here early you should be all by yourself out there. Here are some pictures from the hike. If you look closely at the first image you can see Rainier.

Ira Springs (1) Ira Springs (2)

Iron Peak

This was the worst hike out of the bunch.  I don’t think that I could ever say that a hike was not worth it but man was it close with this guy.  This is more of a horse trail. You have to dodge horse shi..poop the whole way.  When I say dodge it I mean you have to actively search for the one dirt spot where there isn’t any poop to put your foot down. Other than that there were no crowds and the view at the top was cool.  Here is a picture.

Iron Peak

A Modern Marvel Rises Above Puget Sound


Here at Board & Vellum we are very excited to share some construction progress photos of our Modern Cantilevered Residence project.  The house rises above Puget Sound on a steeply sloping hillside looking out at Bainbridge Island and Port Madison beyond.  Possessing some of the most breathtaking views in Seattle this project’s site represents one of the most beautiful and challenging that we’ve ever had the chance to work on.


The City of Seattle identifies the risks involved with developing a property like this through their Environmentally Critical Areas policy, so permitting and construction on sites like this are highly regulated.  This residence specifically, required a coordinated effort between the Architect, Geotechnical Engineer and Structural Engineer to design a sound structure that would satisfy the city’s requirements.


Fortunately we are working with the fine folks at GeoEngineers, Inc. and Swenson Say Faget structural engineers.  The resulting design is a symphony of concrete and steel that clings to the hillside through a system of auger-cast cast piles drilled to a depth of 40’ below the basement slab.  As an architect this is one of the most fascinating phases of construction when all of the muscular structural elements are being installed and remain exposed.  The elegant resolution of gravity and lateral forces is legible through the tangles of steel reinforcing bar and cast-in steel connector plates.


Stay tuned for more photos as the construction continues.  Steel beams are up next…



She promises to Bring Marrakesh to Visit

What started out as an internship last summer to develop my interests in design has led to an incredibly fulfilling experience working with some of the hardest working, driven, fun(ny), and quirky group of people I have ever had the pleasure of calling my team mates.


Surrounded by such a creative and passionate bunch for a year, it was inevitable that I catch the ‘Architecture’ bug. Now, I have the fortuitous opportunity to pursue a Masters of Architecture at the University of Washington.


I will be leaving Board and Vellum–the first since our expansion to eleven, with several tools that I’m convinced will help me survive a three-year program, thanks to my co- B&V’ers.


1)      It is COMPLETELY appropriate to have lunch at 10am. If you are anything like Anne, Ryan, or Robert,  you’ve been in the office since 7am– therefore, there is too much time between ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’.

2)      Standards are EVERYTHING! Ninety percent of what I know about proper filing and naming conventions have come from being taught (mildly harassed) by Matt (who’s last vacation almost caused Jeff’s hard drive to crash).  Even one as “technologically-impaired”  as I am, can appreciate office standards that prevent throwing one’s computer out the window.

3)      Have FUN whenever possible. There’s no such thing as clocking a “9-5″ at an architecture firm. While the general population thinks that architecture is all about designing aesthetic qualities,  as an observer from the ‘inside’ I can soundly say that more than half the work is technical and mentally strenuous. This is also why I think Architects and Architectural Designers are the best at having fun and celebrating tiny achievements and major milestones alike. Getting a project permitted is almost always followed by a celebration best exhibited in Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” video.

4)      Don’t underestimate the power of treating people kindly and in effect, how you would like to be treated. Jeff Pelletier, recently made the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list for being one of our region’s “top business leaders under the age of 40 who excel in their industry and show dynamic leadership”. While I know very little about leading and being accountable to ten employees, I have witnessed Jeff grow a firm that is inclusive of all our ideas and opinions. This should NOT be a novel practice, but it is and I can tell you, it is awesome. Feeling like your boss cares about your quality of life is amazing and has set the standard for what I expect in any work environment. Respect yourself and others-it makes a huge difference.

5)      There is no ‘I’ in Team. As cliché and cheesy as this sounds, I would be lying if I said I got into grad school all by myself.  A year ago, I was running a retail and Interior Design business with my boyfriend and scared to death that I wasn’t smart enough for architecture. Now, I’m fully launched into a trajectory towards architecture and design because I’ve met so many incredible individuals that help me realize that it’s not necessary to know EVERYTHING as long as you know how to ask for help.

Dinner Party at Miele Showroom


1911 – first Miele washing machine with its own electric motor

Last week, Board and Vellum enjoyed a wonderful cooking demonstration by Julianne at the Miele Showroom to experience the Miele difference!


Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Balsamic Reduction

This dish was roasted in the MasterChef Oven.  The oven is very smart; all you need to do is tell it what you are making and it handles the rest for you!  For example: first, the oven braised the beef tenderloin, then it adjusted the temperature down and roasted the beef until the cordless probe indicated that the meat had reached perfection.

 Tortellini with Basil Sauce & Fresh Broccoli Florets

These two were made at the same time in the Steam Oven. This steam oven is able to bake multiple dishes concurrently without mixing smells or flavors from one dish to the other.

 Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Bread Pudding

These two were made at the same time in the Combi-Steam Oven, which is both a convection and steam oven.  The result was flaky yet moist pastries!

 And lots of wine……

We topped it all with Cappuccinos and Lattes made using the in-wall Coffee System – we decided everyone must have at least one in their home.

Julianne also told us about their:

Speed Oven - a smaller oven that is both convection and microwave. When the two are used in combination, it results in reduced cooking time. Here are Cheryl and Ben comparing ovens:ovens

Induction Cooktops - one cool fact: you can put a paper towel between the pot and the induction hot spot and it will not burn!!! Jeff and Jesslyn playing daredevil:

induction test

Retractable Ventilation Hoods - Robert thought that it works great for placing wine while cooking:


And the world’s quietest Dishwashers – only 38 decibels. Check out the cutlery tray:IMG_2892

Side-by-side Refrigerator + Freezer combinations – Robert made sure that the fridge doors are stainless steel 400, which is the type that all your souvenir magnets can go on. Matt was ecstatic to discover a fridge full of soda!fridge

And of course, no field trip is complete without some “Pellepeering” shots.Pellepeering (2) pellepeering

Miele is a German high-end home appliances company founded at the turn of 20th century. You can visit their website for more product information or even hit their Bellevue Showroom for a cooking demo yourself.


office construction insanity

We’ve mentioned that we’re expanding our office space here (if you hadn’t gathered that yet from all of the “Introducing…. posts).  I came back from vacation today to see that the flooring was getting installed in the new area and that all of our furniture was consequently piled up into our work space.  Things are a little nuts here as you can see. If things take a bit longer for the next few days we apologize ahead of time.  We are VERY eager to get some more square footage around here!

say hello to insanity at the Board & Vellum office

say hello to insanity at the Board & Vellum office

Everyday Heroes of the Built Environment

Seattle is changing rapidly. Even if you don’t have a strong opinion about our growth, you fall somewhere on the spectrum ranging from calling for maximum density to a “BANANA” (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything – a step up from the now ubiquitous “NIMBY”). I often lament that I did not take photos around Capitol Hill when we moved to the neighborhood seven years ago, capturing the spot where we used to get our oil changed that is now apartments, the quirky building that housed The Men’s Room C.C. Attle’s which is now the Bullitt Center, and the beautiful old Espresso Vivace location which was torn down to construct the future light rail station on Broadway.


Photo: The Bullitt Center website 

As someone in the industry, I fall somewhere in the middle. We are thankful for the bustling economy. I am thankful that new multifamily housing is built so that a mere mortal like myself can afford to own in a neighborhood like Capitol Hill. But a little part of my soul dies when an historic building, or even just a building I’m attached to because it’s part of my everyday experience, is torn down to make room for yet another apartment building. Or, am I just upset because I worry that the wait for brunch anywhere will be too long now? I didn’t say my point of view was entirely rational, but I think that a longing for connection to our history is deeply rooted in our psyche and needed even more in this day of unprecedented rapid change.

That said, there’s a lot of negative talk about developers, microhousing, monster ADU’s, small lot buildings, demolition, apartments, etc, etc. Sometimes I forget that I don’t hate life and will tumble down the rabbit hole of reading the comments on an article about one of these subjects in an online publication, of which no good can come. But we like to focus on the positive here, and I want to give some encouragement to anyone who feels like Seattle is just becoming one huge Hardie Panel. This is where the Everyday Heroes come in.

These are regular folks who are lovingly remodeling or adapting historic homes and commercial spaces. You might not read about them in the Seattle Times or neighborhood blogs, just like you don’t hear about the 87,000 flights per day that land safely, just the very rare occasion where something goes wrong. But at Board & Vellum we hear from them and work with them every day… a couple with a 1914 craftsman jewel that needs a thoughtful addition,  a box style home that needs a modern kitchen, or a 1930 Tudor style that needs a floor plan tweak to fit the lifestyle of an active family. We get so much positive feedback about Ada’s Technical Books and Café, and not just because of the awesome design (ahem). Most of the credit goes to the owners, who chose to maintain an historic home as a vibrant commercial space, enhancing the human scale experience of 15th Avenue.


Ada’s Technical Books and Café before and after

People all over Seattle are putting their time, money, and considerable efforts into adapting older homes. In most cases it would be easier to just tear it down and start over with modern plumbing, or move to a new house in the suburbs. An important motto when remodeling an older home is to make an addition feel as if it’s always been there, on the inside and out. Maintaining historical integrity as much as possible while adapting homes for modern living can be challenging, but a rewarding challenge that we are always up for.

While the homeowners take on the burden, we all benefit and can enjoy the preservation of the finely knit urban fabric that makes Seattle such a livable city. Everyday Heroes of the Built Environment, we salute you!

Introducing David!

Hello, my name is David, and I am extremely excited to be joining the team at Board & Vellum!

David portrait - square

I’m originally from northeastern Oklahoma. I was born and raised in the small town of Bartlesville, which happens to be home to the only built skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright: the Price Tower*. I went to the University of Oklahoma where I received a Bachelor of Architecture degree. Upon graduation I headed northwest to the great city of Seattle and have been here ever since! I have accrued over a decade of experience in custom, single-family residential design from a handful of firms in the Seattle area.

David collage 01

Along the way I discovered the amazing Pratt Fine Arts center in Seattle’s Central District. I have enjoyed taking a variety of fabrication classes at Pratt, including among them bronze and aluminum casting, oxy-acetylene and MIG welding, metalsmithing, and warm glass fusing and casting. In my spare time I like to apply those fabrication skills to personal projects in my home studio.

David collage 02

Outside of design I enjoy spending time with my wife, Liz, eating good food, attending shows at the Paramount and Fifth Avenue Theatre, and checking out art exhibitions at the local museums and galleries. I absolutely love autumn in Seattle. I look forward to the cool crisp temperatures, the incredible natural color palette, and harvesting pumpkins from our backyard pumpkin patch.

I looking forward to settling in with my new coworkers, working on some great projects, and exploring the neighborhood of Capital Hill!

*Editor’s Note: (This is Ben, here) While David gets extra points for mentioning Frank Lloyd Wright in his opening paragraph, the B&V resident office FLLW expert disagrees with the assertion that the Price Tower is FLLW’s lone built skyscraper. The Johnson Research Tower in Racine, WI (while not taller than the Price Tower in Bartlesville) exists! And, you can tour it for the first time in decades.

Docomomo-WEWA Night at the Museum

You don’t have to be a member of the “DOcumentation and COnservation of the MOdern MOvement – WEstern WAshington” (Docomomo-WEWA for short) in order to see a great exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum, going on now. It’s entitled Danish Modern – Design For Living, and it features many designers and their specimens (mostly the sitting kind) on display until August 31st.

Although a small sampling of unique furnishings and tableware, it is part of a larger exhibition from the Museum Of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. Docomomo-WEWA had a hand in sponsoring the event, with a no-host bar and co-mingling of museum members, preservationists, interior designers, architects, and mid-century enthusiasts.

Check out me and Matt Hagen sampling the wares, doing some business card exchanges, and meeting some great people! (Sorry, no planking, Ryan.)

Welcome to the museum!

Welcome to the museum!
Not planking. Lounging.

Not planking. Lounging.


The Round Chair by Hans Wegner was featured in the Kennedy/Nixon debates in 1961.

The “Round Chair” by Hans Wegner was featured in the Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960.