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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org :
- Cover Letter
- Abbreviated portfolio of design work
- Working drawing samples
- Freehand drawing samples
And check us out on Instagram @jamesmerrellarchitects