Meet Aaron Dornsmith, a new B&V’er joining our custom residential architecture studio! Aaron is a northwest native from southern Idaho. He carries a love of a family cabin in the woods forward with a fervent belief that our homes should engage with nature to not only shelter but nourish us, even in the city.
January 10, 2019
My name is Aaron Dornsmith and I’m excited to join Board & Vellum! I am a northwest native growing up in southern Idaho and getting my Master of Architecture from the University of Idaho. I grew up near the mountains spending a lot of time at the cabin my grandfather built outside of McCall, Idaho. The forests made an impression on me and have sparked my ravenous curiosity to understand what makes them so enlivening and how can that wild nature be translated into the built environment.
In that vein, one of my favorite architectural axioms is, “Architecture begins where engineering ends,” by Walter Gropius, and has been a light as my professional career follows. There are a lot of well-built buildings out there, but few that speak. Part of this is having to go beyond just the function of a building. Big box stores with their sea of asphalt functions just fine, but a person doesn’t feel fulfilled by the building; whereas people will travel across the world to visit places like Notre Dame in Paris, Falling Water in Pennsylvania, or the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. Architecture doesn’t just shelter a person, but speaks to their soul and can inspire or nourish the person.
I believe this should apply to one’s home just as much as anywhere else. If you think about how much time you spend at your house in your lifetime, why would you not want the building to nourish you? This is where the question of the forest comes in. How can you make a person’s home in the city feel more like a cabin in the woods? This is a great time to ask this question, and with people becoming more concerned about the health of the globe and nature, there is a real opportunity to greatly expand how people think about their homes. Sustainability has to be more than just buying more energy-efficient machines; it has to involve reconnecting with nature in meaningful ways, even with small lots.
This is why I’m excited to be a part of the Board & Vellum team. Architectural design should go beyond the walls of the house, and so should the design team. I’m eager to work with the site designers and interior designers who are equally inspired by a holistic approach to creating a more seamless design. And Seattle seems like the perfect culture to work in with the peoples’ love of the forest.
Outside of work, I don’t stop asking questions. In my time off, I might be found exploring the town taking photos with my camera trying to discover the soul of the city, giving a lecture on advanced astrological concepts, or at a coffee shop with my sketchbook trying to understand beauty.
And speaking of beauty, I met my other half at a swing dance class at the Century Ballroom in Capitol Hill in Seattle. She has helped me broaden my horizons, and together we go on adventures — ranging from Vancouver, BC to Florence, Italy — frequenting art museums, or spending the evening going on walks and filling the night air with laughter.
I look forward to this new adventure at Board & Vellum.