"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

- Steve Jobs

Studio Values

Our designs reveal us completely, especially to those who can see past superficial categories of architectural style.  To the astute observer, the finished building becomes a window into the studio, the culture that imagined it.  So for our practice, studio culture is everything!

Examples of questions that help us get a better sense for this are:  Is this building a “statement”, or a discovery?  Is it more interested in itself, or its surroundings?  Is its detailing expressive, or predictable?  Precise, or convenient?  Flashy, or restrained?  Is it concerned with natural light and landscape?  And, perhaps most interestingly, is its goal to achieve architectural clarity, or artful ambiguity?  It is the answers to questions like these that will yield the clearest view of the values that animate the design culture in any studio.    

In our case, what started out as a fairly typical, principal-driven practice many years ago has evolved into a principal-guided collaborative culture.  And the work has gotten better as a result.  Diverse perspectives and a culture of dialogue have made our projects richer, and allowed us to keep the design process connected to the big questions we care about most.  Two of the questions we ask on a regular basis relate to the ongoing roles of history and ambiguity in our designs.  And while they are tough questions to answer, they go to the root of the struggle contemporary architects face putting modernism in to some perspective.   

In our case, again, we have consciously rejected the “Howard Roark” model of architect as egoist.  Instead, we are animated by that promoting a thoughtful ambiguity between the so-called modern and traditional aesthetics will lead us to a narrative more appropriate to our own times.  Without doubt, we are more interested in Discovery than in Statement; more interested in ambiguity than clarity.  Stepping further afield, we are also very interested in understanding the unstated narratives that actually drive design today, so we can harness them for the future. 

For all these reasons, our studio also values language as highly as drawing skills.  We accept the rationalist’s skepticism regarding conventions of beauty, and view words and ideas as tools for finding truth in design.  It is not the right studio for everyone.  But for like minded designers, who are interested in houses, there may be few studios like it.   

We're Hiring!

We have several exciting projects in construction and in the early stages of design and we're looking for talented people to join the team.

Ideal candidates should be able to display experience with working drawings and construction detailing. Working in a small residential firm is a unique opportunity for someone eager to take on a range of responsibilities and follow projects from design through construction in a relatively short period of time.

JMA offers competitive salaries and benefits. The firm also knows how difficult it can be to find Hampton’s rentals so we’ve rented a 3-bedroom apartment within walking distance of the office for employees to live if needed.

While you’re here, please take a look at our “In the Works” projects as well as our Journal to get a glimpse into our design approach.

To apply, please send a single PDF (5MB max) including the following to resumes@jamesmerrellarchitects.com :

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Abbreviated portfolio of design work
  • Working drawing samples
  • Freehand drawing samples

 And check us out on Instagram @jamesmerrellarchitects

James Merrell
Principal Architect
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Adam Volosik
Head Architect
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Steve Soule
Senior Project Architect
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Janara-Krista Garcia Soule
Senior Project Architect
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Aaron Proulx
Senior Project Architect
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Marina de Conciliis
Project Architect
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Paula Inacio
Architectural Designer
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Jun Lee
Project Architect
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Holly Weinberg
Office Administrator
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Architects are taught to view the House in architectural terms, but the House also resides as an ideal in the narrative imaginations of each of us.  As such, it is laden with the values, memories and associations that make us individuals, that make the House the symbol of the self in our dreams.

Recognizing this special idealized connection between our stories and our homes is what drives James Merrell Architects to specialize in this building type.  We explore in each project the relationship between our architectural and our narrative imaginations.  We have tooled our design process to better engage and guide our clients along the way.  And our completed projects offer the best proof of our success--a wide but related series of architectural expressions, each designed to meet the idealized dreams of a particular client.