An Architect’s OCD Guide to Thanksgiving

I pride myself on being a well-organized person which I think is inherent in a lot of Architects. Caring about the details is what I like to call it and I like to think I don’t really have OCD. Of course, having a ridiculously organized LEGO room makes defending myself something I have to do frequently and makes my argument mildly dubious. Still, I often surprise myself at how excited I get about spreadsheets with lots of detail. So when Thanksgiving rolls and I’m hosting a big dinner, I’ve found that being well organized helps ensure that everything gets cooked in a timely manner and that when guests show up I’m not running around like a mad man. So I made a really detailed spreadsheet that helps plan out my days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Yup, I color-coded the cooking methods. You don't have to be as insane.
Yup, I color-coded the cooking methods. You don’t have to be as insane.

Yeah, I’m probably mildly nuts. But definitely NOT OCD. I swear.

This year I am really in love with the recipes on the New York Times cooking page (their app is incredible by the way) and that formed the cornerstone of a lot of my recipes. Every year I take notes on what I liked from that year and what I would change and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.

One new addition this year is a salad inspired by a local restaurant, Vios (they’re fantastic by the way, especially if you have kids because of their play area). I’ve been mildly obsessed with it and I wanted to pass along the recipe as I think it is easy and a crowd pleaser. I hope you get to enjoy it at some point and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Here's a bad photo of some great ingredients
Here’s a bad photo of some great ingredients

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad

Salad Ingredients:
(2) Persimmons cut up into bite sized pieces
Pomegranate seeds (let’s say ½ cup but add or decrease this depending on your tastes)
Roasted Pumpkin seeds (make them yourself or buy them that way)
Toasted walnuts (roast in oven at 325 for ten minutes)
Bibb lettuce (optionally you can add a little radicchio)

Lemon Vinagrette Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1-2 tablespoons spicy mustard (the more you add the spicier it gets)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Salt, pepper, various spices (such as marjoram, thyme, basil – the fresher the better)
3 tablespoons olive oil (if you can get a lemon flavored one all the better – check out Trader Joe’s)

To make the vinaigrette, place the mustard, lemon juice, and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk until it is all combined. Then mix in the spices to your taste and then slowly whisk in the oil. Boom, you have an awesome dressing.

Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl, mix, and add dressing (a little goes a long way).
Serve immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy cooking (and eating)!

This post is part of the ArchiTalk series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a theme, and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is From an Architect’s Table. To read how others interpreted the theme please click the links below.

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Thanksgiving Feast…

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
This Thanksgiving: Something New

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
From My Table To Yours

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Bourbon. Every architect’s friend.

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Archi-Table – Any Berry Salad

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Hacksgiving – A Hacker’s Thanksgiving

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“From an Architect’s Table” Dolly Brown’s Pumpkin Pie

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Archtalks from an Architects Table

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalk #15: From An Architect’s Table

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Architect’s Postmodern Thanksgiving!

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
All In the Family

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
giving thanks and [wine]ing

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Unplug Tradition

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
An Architect’s OCD Guide to Thanksgiving

Big Leaf Manufacturing

Danger Men at Work

Most people in the architecture & design community are familiar with Roy McMakin and Domestic Architecture. With a 40 year legacy of creating furniture, sculpture, houses, glassware, public art, paintings and more, his work is known. But when I picked up the November 2015 issue of Gray Magazine and read about Big Leaf Manufacturing, the furniture workshop he opened in 1997, I immediately organized a tour. Being a maker myself, the opportunity to see their space up close and personal was just too good to pass up.

Big Leaf Manufacturing green chair white table

Tucked away in a one story flat-top industrial building between Rainier Avenue and I-90 on Poplar Place South, you’d never know that great art was being fabricated inside. From the street, it looks like maybe an insurance company – or some other paper-pushing business; but once inside, you quickly realize this is not a boring office building. And the secret is: the basement is where all the magic happens.

Big Leaf Manufacturing fabric bolts

The small team of skilled artisans with decades of hand-crafted experience has been making a go of it alone since their founder moved to San Diego to build a home for his family. Business has been good since they began offering their services to local clients, architects and designers – mostly connected through word of mouth. They’re a super creative bunch who love a challenge and always say yes. Experimentation is in their DNA and they collaborate fully on each component of a design.

Big Leaf Manufacturing paint

The attention to detail that goes into each and every piece is astonishing. The image below is of a found object – an ancient wooden high chair – that the team was challenged with replicating into a graphic sculpture. Everything from the mismatched arm shapes to the randomly placed nails and divets in the wood of the original are copied to the replica.

Big Leaf Manufacturing takes vintage to replica

Barbara described for us her process of experimentation with paints and stains and how she recently sent custom color blocks to a fabric dyer in New York. They came back with perfectly matched linen twill samples, later to become the upholstered cushions on custom dining chairs.

The Big Leaf Manufacturing team
Pictured: Andy Taylor, Frank Peck, Alexa Anderson and Barbara Marino.

Don’t even get me started on the veneers!

We really appreciated their hospitality, opening up their workshop to us on a wintery Tuesday. We’re happy to get the word out about this amazing resource for custom fabrication, right here in the heart of Seattle.

Top ten tips when faced with a challenging Architectural project

We’re approaching 5 years here at Board & Vellum and starting to think about what that means (short answer; it probably means a big party). Not that we’ve had much time for contemplation with the insanity of the Seattle real estate and construction market but it is always nice to sit and ponder what’s next (to be fair, we do a lot of critical planning and strategy but there isn’t much of the sit down and reflect kind of time these days). So when I saw what the next #architalks blog post topic was I actually found a minute to think about what’s already happened versus what’s about to happen. The topic is “My First Project” and what that entails is totally open-ended. I thought about discussing my first personal remodel project or maybe my first project at school. I’ve had three jobs in the architecture industry prior to Board & Vellum so I considered writing about each project that I worked on at those locations. Instead, though, I wanted to look way back at the first project number at Board & Vellum.

It wasn’t much of a stretch.

That first project number, you see, is still very much an active project. Wait, isn’t Board & Vellum going on 5 years you might say? Well, yes, it is. And yes, that means that we’ve been working on a project for over 4 years. This isn’t the norm in Architecture but almost every Architect I know has a few of these projects that just takes a very, very, very long time.

Before I get too far into this I want to step back and talk a bit about project schedule. I’ve written before about how long a project can take. That’s with a lot of assumptions about a rather typical project schedule and site condition. Sometimes, though, pretty much everything related to the project can impact schedule. Often a remodel can be very easy as there are so many constraints and other times, as with this project, there are so many restraints and conditions that it can be overwhelming for the parties involved. Clients can start with good intentions to move ahead quickly and then be overwhelmed with the number of decisions and issues. Even with an Architect advocating for them along the way, the process can be a lot to swallow. In the case of this particular project, we have slowly stretched out the design over many years leaving gaps to help the clients focus and make informed decisions. We’ve all learned numerous lessons along the way and here are a few (10 apparently as who doesn’t love a top ten list) that I think really resonate when you’re faced with a very challenging architectural project:

1) Communicate openly. The Architect and the clients should build a relationship of trust so they can feel comfortable with the decisions being made. We were fortunate to build this early on.

2) Know your schedule. Or, in this case, know that you don’t actually have one and that you have the freedom to take your time to make decisions. It took a while for this to shake out and once it did, it helped everyone relax and know that we weren’t missing milestones.

3) Know your budget. You don’t have to know the details but you do have to know roughly what you want to spend. It is one of the most critical project parameters.

4) Understand that you can’t get line item budget info this early. This is a tough one for many projects, especially “numbers people”. When we’re looking at small scale plans and debating big picture decisions you have to fight the urge to get stuck on pricing out every possible scenario and line item. While it does matter how much that set of French doors costs, it honestly doesn’t matter AT THIS POINT early on. Your Architect will help you dial into the detail along each step of the way but the early stages inherently need to be looser or you end up not being able to see the big picture.

5) Be real with your program. How many bedrooms do you need vs. want? We went through a very extensive programming phase that helped the client understand what sort of house they needed (and also what they wanted, they are two very different things).

This was one of the very early plan options
This was one of the very early plan options

6) You’re never going to get everything you want. Architecture is filled with compromises. Unless this is a house designed for an Architect BY the Architect and living by him or herself then there will be compromise. It is inherent with any decision involving more than one person. Know and accept this.

7) Some sites are harder than others. This particular site is rough. Really, really, rough. In all of the projects that have come and gone since this one started no site has stood out as having more unique constraints. The harder the site the longer the process.

8) Own up to whether you want to remodel or tear down. This is likely the most challenging decision on this particular project. Older homes have such emotion tied to them. Unfortunately sometimes older homes have just passed their usefulness. Or sometimes even when you know that it would be cheaper and easier to tear the house down you just don’t want to as you know there’s emotional value you in the house. Face this decision as early as you can stomach.

9) Should you just move? Consider this one carefully as it can’t be ignored as an option.

10) Know what information you’ll need to make informed decisions. In our case, it was clear that a set of plans wasn’t going to be enough so we made the decision to jump into 3D interior
views. It took more time and a lot of information had to be conjured out of thin air, but it helped the project move forward.

These are early 3D images we did as part of a walk-through of the house
These are early 3D images we did as part of a walk-through of the house

So where’s the project now? It is sitting in another prolonged pause where the clients are debating between two schemes. I think we’re close but I also know that everyone is doing all they can to move it forward at the speed that works best for them. We’re fortunate that our workload isn’t dependent upon one (or two or three) projects moving forward full speed ahead. Projects almost always pause at some point in the process so that’s just part of Architecture.

As we go through some of these meetings every few months every now and then we’ll pull up an older scheme to discuss the merits. I would be lying if my thinking hasn’t adjusted along the way and some schemes which I used to love now just don’t seem great. It is fun to see the old company logo and some of my early design obsessions on paper.

Aside from the fact that I can’t find a high resolution copy of our current logo, I vastly prefer the newer one. We’ve embraced the ampersand.
Aside from the fact that I can’t find a high resolution copy of our current logo, I vastly prefer the newer one. We’ve embraced the ampersand.

More importantly, though, it reminds me that what we do as Architects is constantly evolving and that there are numerous correct solutions to the same problem. Design is fun, stressful, insane, and can take a long long long time but when you just nail it, like I know we will with this project, it just feels great.

This post is part of the ArchiTalk series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a theme, and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is Citizen Architect. To read how others interpreted the theme please click the links below.

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
My First Project: The Best Project Ever Designed That Wasn’t

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
My “First Project”

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
My First Project – Again

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
first project first process

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Our First Architecture Project [#ArchiTalks]

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: My first project

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
The First One — A Tale of Two Projects

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Why every project is my “First”

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Early Years of My Architecture Career – My Role

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
I Hate Decks

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[first] project [worst] crit

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
My First Project – The First Solar Decathlon #Architalks

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Project Me

Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Fake it ’til you make it

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Define First

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
my first project

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Community 101

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
6 Major Differences between my 1st School Project & my 1st Real Project

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
My First Project – The Contemporary Cottage

Nisha Kandiah – TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
The Question of Beginning

Night School 2: What Shapes Our Cities?

what shapes our cities?

Have you ever considered what shapes our cities? Do you shape your city? Did you ever ponder the logistics of every person in a modern city of millions eating lunch within an hour of everyone else in that city?

These are topics Carolyn Steel, food urbanist, thinks about constantly. Her talk, “How Food Shapes Our Cities,” sheds light on the relationship between food networks and the development of cities. This question of “what shapes our cities” has never been more important to discuss. More people now live in urban areas than rural, and as a result, phenomena as seemingly simple as everyone eating lunch are really not so simple. Seattle in particular has a long history of being shaped by industries and other forces. Consider the timber industry, port activity, the regrade, Bertha, and Amazon. Our city continues to respond to these events and institutions.

As a follow up to our successful inaugural Night School event, we are opening up our next event to anyone curious to discuss the forces shaping our cities. The format for this event centers around a video of Ms. Steel’s talk, followed by an informed and intimate discussion. All are welcome to participate and contribute. We will convene in the Programming Room at Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe in Capitol Hill at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 18th. Delicious light food and beverage samplings from the kitchen at Ada’s will be provided.

As a reminder, Night School is a departure from our daily work at Board & Vellum to debate, discuss, and analyze broader topics that impact what we do. At our first Night School, we discussed the role of architects in society and our responsibility to the community at large in parallel with watching Citizen Architect, a film about Sam Mockbee and the Rural Studio. The format has been left intentionally somewhat ambiguous in the hope that over the course of future evenings the event itself will develop and respond to the guests and topics. We are very excited to continue this series and hope to see you there.

Please direct questions or comments to Jeff Sandler.

Eco Building Guild’s Green Slam Event

On Saturday a bunch of B&V’ers gathered at UW’s Kane Hall to cheer on the annual Green Slam event organized by the Northwest Eco Building Guild. For the second year in a row, a Board & Vellum project was selected for the presentation! This year we teamed up with Zack from Hammer & Hand to brag about our great clients and their quest for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Jeff and Zack presenting the Ballard Locks Residence

Zack Semke and Jeff Pelletier presenting at the Eco Building Guild's Green Slam Event
Zack Semke and Jeff Pelletier presenting at the Eco Building Guild’s Green Slam Event

The project that Zack and Jeff presented was our recently completed Ballard Locks Residence. Click the link to view all the photos in our portfolio.

Ballard Locks Residence

Being avid cyclists, our clients found a home to renovate that was within biking distance from their employment. It turned out to need a lot of work to modernize it both in terms of design and functionality, but we were all up to the challenge! One of their project requirements was to limit the impact of their footprint on the neighborhood by cycling to work, and this became the sustainable cornerstone for this program. A whole house remodel requiring a re-imagining of a tired, inefficient, and challenging 1980’s remodel of a 1937 home, we saw the potential for an energy-efficient, long-lasting, and beautiful transformation that would last for decades more. This house reaps the benefits of salvaging embodied energy while looking towards the future.

Ballard Locks Residence: Before Images
The above collage are images of the house before we started work.

The program called for a layout of open living spaces focused on the breathtaking Olympic Mountain views connected by a central hall in lieu of the chopped up and dated floor plan that came with the house. Our design brief was focused to take full advantage of the views but more importantly, button up the house to improve air quality – it was really, really hot, stuffy and overheated – it just wasn’t built right. We kept all the existing framing that we could, packed it with insulation, provided a seamless air barrier around everything and added a Heat Recovery Ventilator. Now the house feels clean and comfortable.

Ballard Locks Residence: 2nd Floor Open Space
A layout of open living spaces on the second floor is flooded with light and has breathtaking views.

We specified great new windows and opened up the second floor which allowed the light from the upper floor to spill down to the main floor. The end result is a generous entry and a house that feels cohesive and with generous daylighting drawing you through the home. The new layout also works much better for entertaining and no longer divides the space. The modern built-in cabinetry is integral to the architecture of the home. It can be easy to overlook the incredible attention to detail that transforms this house into a home that sustainably looks to the future while not ignoring the legacy of the past.

The B&V Team at the Eco Building Guild Green Slam Event
The B&V Team at the Eco Building Guild Green Slam Event

How Architects can be model Citizens

When I decided to go off and start Board & Vellum almost five years ago, I knew that it was about more than the actual design of buildings that interested me. I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with wonderful Architects who helped instill in me a sense that Architects can be leaders in their community and help stand up for a greater place to live. The challenge, of course, is how to be a good citizen while still getting your work done. Here’s a little insight into how I view those skills overlapping.

One of the first things I realized when I started getting involved with volunteer and non-profit opportunities as a professional, was that there is no secret code to crack. You simply have to offer to help and dive in. As I’m not inherently someone who “follows” I found it easy (perhaps too easy) to dive in and get involved with a myriad of groups that interested me. The challenge then was bring that experience to the office and mentor my staff on not just the skill of architecture but the skill of being a good citizen.

At Board & Vellum almost everyone in the firm is involved to a degree as an office champion of some sort of overhead effort. Whether it is our quality assurance approach, being members of the general academic community, or keeping our detail library up to date, we believe that people need to have more than just project work in order to stay excited about what they do. One of our champions oversees our community service efforts, and helps pair up staff with appropriate organizations that match their interest. Of course, volunteer opportunities are often personal endeavors, so we had to come up with a method to help inspire people to volunteer.

So, recognizing that the best way to get people involved was to give them an incentive, I made the call to go ahead and pay people for community service. While still optional, everyone at Board & Vellum has a generous allotment of hours each year to be paid for their time volunteering in an organization of their choice. The only requirement is that the staff member have a personal connection with the organization. The caveat is that the opportunity specifically doesn’t have to be related to architecture or their job.

Not only do we match people with opportunities where they can have an impact (and we’re always asking around for groups that need help. I can’t recommend enough just asking someone you know “do you know any non-profits needing some volunteer help?”), but we also train people on how best to use their time. One of my first bosses helped push me into taking a position on the board of a non-profit that I knew very little about. If it wasn’t for his mentoring and encouragement, I would likely have sat on the sidelines for quite some time (thanks Bill!). Our crew is trained in how to be better helpers, better neighbors, and better citizens. Just like the study of architecture, it is a skill that can be learned and enhanced.

Why the heck would I do this? Obviously there is the inherent marketing benefit (look at us! We’re good people worth hiring!) but honestly, if your heart isn’t in it, you just come across as a used-car-salesman and insincere. That’s simply not the point. My marketing style has never been that. Why I do this is because I love where I live and I want others to invest in the health and longevity of where they live as well. The cycle of change starts with people getting involved and helping to better where they live. You get one life on this planet and I’d like to leave it having known I did all I could to make it more awesome.

As Architects and designers, we are trained in a variety of skills that can prove useful to community groups – we are incredibly well matched to serving the needs of our community. We know how to coordinate meetings, speak in group settings, and help guide groups toward a consensus. We care about the built environment and the impact it has on the community. Quite frankly, Architects are ideal citizens and I’m proud to ensure that our small team at Board & Vellum can help do a little more for this awesome city.

To all of the young Architects-in-training and designers out there, I highly recommend that you get out there, take the leap and get involved in your community. Sit on a board, volunteer with a non-profit, or help with something behind the scenes. It can be a rewarding experience that allows you to enhance your skills interacting with the public, and, of course, be a better citizen.


Here's some of the B&V team at a recent 15th Ave East Community Event
Here’s some of the B&V team at a recent 15th Ave East Community Event

This post is part of the ArchiTalk series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a theme, and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is Citizen Architect. To read how others interpreted the theme please click the links below.

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson) Citizen Architect … Seems Redundant

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch) Citizinen Architect

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM) Good Citizen Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols) What Does it Mean to be a Citizen Architect?

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti) small town citizen architect

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC) #ArchiTalks: The everyday citizen architect

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect) Citizen Architect: #architalks

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect) Architect as Citizen

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome) My Hero – Citizen Architect

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign) We are the Champions – Citizen Architects

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA) Meet Jane Doe, Citizen Architect

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar) Architalks #13: How Can I Be But Just What I Am?

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC) Help with South Carolina’s Recovery Efforts

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA) Senior Citizen, Architect

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz) Citizen Architect

Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC (@Parthenon1) Citizen Starchitect’ is not an Oxymoron

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man) Citizen Architect – Form out of Time

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w) [cake decorating] to [citizen architect]

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge) Citizen Architect #ArchiTalks

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia) Citizen of Architecture

Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist) Protecting the Client – 3 Ways to be a Citizen Architect

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept) Citizen Developer??

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory) Citizen Architect

Courtney Casburn Brett – Casburn Brett (@CasburnBrett) “Citizen Architect” + Four Other Practice Models Changing Architecture

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum) How Architects Can Be Model Citizens

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast) Citizen Architect: The Last Responder

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch) Inspiring a Citizen Architect

Tailor Made Custom Design Featured in Luxe Magazine

We’re so proud of our own Alev Seymen for her contribution to this Jules Thomas design project. While working at Castanes Architects, Alev provided the drawings and managed the project through construction. The team also included Klaus Toth of Toth Construction, and the magnificent end result is featured on the cover and in a full color spread in the Fall 2015 issue of Luxe magazine.

Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015
Luxe Fall 2015

Eco Building Guild 2015 Green Building Slam

Mark your calendars for the 2015 Green Building Slam sponsored by the Northwest Eco Building Guild!

Green Building Slam

This annual event is a “slam-style” presentation with fast-paced, mind-blowing talks about remarkable green building projects! Please join us for an evening celebrating ten exciting sustainable building projects here in the greater Seattle area.

B&V is proud to be an Earth Partner sponsor of the event, and we’ll be teaming up with Hammer & Hand to present our Ballard Locks Residence, which achieved a 4-Star Built Green rating earlier this year. For more information and to purchase tickets, click over to the event page.

Ballard Locks Residence

Full List of Presenters:

Feng Shui Passive by VELOCIPEDE Architects Inc
CLT House by atelierjones
Ballard Master Home Remodel by Aileen Gagney
Cargo Container DADU by S.A.G.E. Designs NW
Madrona Passive House by Hammer & Hand
Ballard Emerald Star by Dwell Development
City Cabins at Indian Wall by Martha Rose Construction Inc
Ballard Locks Remodel by Board & Vellum
Bullit Center TI by Hammer & Hand
Marion Green by Neiman Taber

Last year B&V participated in the slam presenting Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe, in partnership with Model Remodel, to a sold out crowd. You can check out the post from that event here. Be sure to get your tickets before it sells out!

HGTV Fresh Faces of Design

We’re so excited to announce that Jeff has been named a finalist in the HGTV Fresh Faces of Design competition in not one, but two categories! To win, we need your votes every day (instructions below).

HGTV Fresh Faces profile

There are 12 categories with a handful of finalists in each. The public voting period starts today, and you can vote once a day until October 30th.

Check out his profile, or go directly to the voting page: Jeff is a finalist in the Design with a Passion category for his now-world-famous “Lego Lounge.” Click here to vote for Jeff in this category. He is also a finalist in the Posh Public Spaces category for Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe. Click here to vote for Jeff in this category. Voting is a little complicated; you have to click through a good portion the images of all the candidates for each category before it’ll let you vote. Once you see “I’m ready to vote” you can then vote for Jeff. Thank you ahead of time for your patience AND persistence!

Thanks for your support!

View Jeff's Nominated Project!

Introducing Rachel!

Why, Hello!

Hey There. How are all of you doing today? (Or Tonight?) Mmm-hmm? Good. Can I get you anything? A coffee? Tea? Glass of wine? Absolutely. No problem. Let’s hang out and get to know one another. See, that’s just the thing: I am the resident newbie here at Board & Vellum, and this is my official “Get To Know You” blog post. So, welcome. Come on in. Relax.

Alright, who am I? Well, pause for a sec. Here’s the thing. I’m more than happy to rock your socks off, but let’s get one thing straight first: this is a sweet team we’re brewing here at B&V – a savory mix of skill, experience, savvy, and – not least – fun. (Add salt to taste.) Luckily, this gal loves to play chef. So, what’s with this new ingredient we’re throwing into the B&V mix? First off: we don’t just bring on new folks here willy-nilly. We are a small, integrated crew of design teams, curated not only by the indefatigable Jeff Pelletier, but also by the teams themselves. So, by the time we invite someone to join, we already know they will be another excellent addition to the B&V signature recipe. So fear not, Dear Readers, we’ve all been vetted, or figuratively taste-tested, if you can tolerate my cooking metaphor just a moment longer. Alright, I’m done with it. Have a sip of that coffee-slash-wine and let’s get this party started.

The Basics

Formal Smarts

I suppose we should cover the basic credentials first. I come to B&V with a Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History & Visual Culture Studies from Whitman College. While at Whitman, I had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, studying Italian film, contemporary art, and taking studio classes in black & white photography. And, it was there, somewhere among the hours spent in the darkroom, and the many more spent exploring the nooks and crannies of a classic city, that I decided to pursue architecture. Of course, formal education aside, the real architectural education never really ends, it’s more of a lifestyle that just keeps evolving – the more you put into it, the better designer you become. Study hard. Never stop.

The Details

The Digital & The Physical

Not being one to make rash decisions, before I applied to architecture school, I wanted to test the dream a little. So, the summer after I graduated from Whitman, I tried out an architecture studio course at the University of Washington. From there, I cold-called an architect in Walla Walla, and scored a role as his intern. For the next couple of years, working one-on-one with him, I learned the trade on projects ranging from residential remodels, to an art gallery, and a new outpost for a winery.

More recently, after (official) architectural school, I formed Simrell+Scott with my partner in life and work, Blake Scott. Encompassing both digital and physical projects, we love to cross-pollinate our design work, shifting between thinking about spaces we experience through pixels on screens, and spaces we experience through our literal presence in them. Across disciplines, we are total nuts for awesome, considered, design. From “Big Picture” down to the tiny edges and corners, real design and attention to detail matter; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re the type that gets annoyed with sloppy design, come on over, you’re speaking our language.

Introducing Rachel - Simrell+Scott | 92nd Street Remodel & Addition: Panorama Towards Living Room

Back to the narrative, before joining Board & Vellum, my most comprehensive solo architectural project to date was a complete residential remodel and addition that transformed a bare-bones, ’50s era house into home full of light and natural materials. When the owners approached us, they feared remodeling wouldn’t be able to solve the problems they had with the house. But through sketches and models, we showed them there was, in fact, a solution through considered design, and they green-lit the project with excitement. With the right budget and considered design, there is so much to be gained from even the trickiest of spaces. So, don’t shy away – a little architecture can work wonders.

Introducing Rachel - Simrell+Scott | A Color-Adaptive Portfolio for an Artist: Site on Four Mockups

On the digital side, besides Simrell+Scott’s own website, one of our recent web projects is a color-adaptive portfolio for a watercolor artist that lets the viewer play with the art in a manner uncommon in art portfolios, much more like they might experience a piece of art in their own home, moving it from a wall painted white to one of another color. More and more, the digital and physical worlds are melding, and I’m excited to be Board & Vellum’s new resident tech geek.

The Bonus

A Seattle Gal for a Seattle Firm

Though I was two years too early to be born a Seattleite, I was absolutely bred one. My (Seattle-born) younger brother disagrees, of course, but I’m this close to being a Seattle Native, and, if it weren’t for him, I’d probably just get away with saying that I am one. Either way, I have a ton of Seattle pride. After my years attending Evergreen then Bush (schools, not plants), I tried out the life in Walla Walla, then Portland, even Eugene for a few, but I just keep coming back to my hometown here in Seattle; I love this place.

Introducing Rachel - Rachel & Blake at the MOHAI Pier

Both wild and urban, the Pacific Northwest has shaped my life both philosophically and practically. When I think about the spaces we inhabit, whether to design a new space, or to refine an old one, my thoughts are always mediated by my experiences over years spent in our local environment. I am intimately familiar with our particular brand of damp. I know all about it getting dark at 4:00 PM in December. I know what you’re talking about when you reminisce about the Old REI, even that particular smell it had. I’ve spent some good times in the Kingdome, and, yes, I remember when parking (or driving) anywhere didn’t have to be such a big deal. I don’t remember a time before curb-side recycling, and I get frustrated when I travel to other cities and can’t find a decent latte, or awesome produce. My husband and I joke about what we call “The Pacific Northwest Bubble” – it’s so awesome here that you forget how rare it really is, until you leave the bubble. Seattle has spoiled me, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

So, perhaps you’re new to Seattle, as I am new to Board & Vellum. Do you love it, yet? How about your home? Let’s talk about Seattle living – we know a little something about it, and the team at Board & Vellum is here to help. Let’s design for Seattle. We always need a way to let in the winter light, and sometimes, we need storage space for kayaks. We need somewhere to leave the damp parkas, and we need a way to keep a house without AC cool during that one hot stretch in summer. How do you want to live? What are the eccentric details of your life? What brings you joy? What warms your heart? What blows your hair back? I may be the newest B&V’er, but I’m all about the Pacific Northwest life. Let’s chat. Let’s build your life. Drop us a line. And, just one more thing: Cheers. Thanks for sticking around. Here’s to the next new thing.