Special Projects Division Cabinet Shop
February 2, 2009, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Architecture, BUILD LLC, Design, Seattle, Trades

We’re ready! Today marks the official launch of our new cabinet shop.  Several months ago BUILD LLC created a partnership with a master woodworker, acquired an industrial shop space and set up “Special Projects Division LLC”.  Since then we’ve knocked out a couple of sharp, modern cabinet packages and the website is ready to go public – check it out here.  Those of you on our twitter feed got a sneak peak last week.


The cabinets are designed and constructed to be cost-effective – so that normal people can actually afford nice modern cabinets.  The packages range from single stand alone cabinets to entire house packages.


There are a couple of  supplements on the website you should know about:

We’ve got a section of smokin-hot details that show how the cabinets are outfitted with stainless steel custom pulls, organizer drawer units, countertops, sinks and appliances.



Our materials category includes photos of over 30 different wood species from Alder to Zebrawood.  Note to architects & designers: you can download these images for use in your 3-d modeling programs.


The sawn lumber diagram page has straight-forward diagrams of how wood is sawn and how it looks depending on the method of cutting.


We figured, as long as we’ve got a cabinet shop with all the cool tools, we might as well crank out some furniture too.  So we’re designing a line of furniture which includes modern benches, coffee tables, chairs, rolling bars, and shoe racks.  Stay tuned, as we’ll be revealing the designs very soon.


In the furniture designs you’ll notice our BUILD developed joinery which uses a system of aluminum kerf plates and pegs to join a variety of woods – found only in the SPD furniture line.  We’re also developing a line of cabinets from re-used wood products which is even better and more earth-friendly than recycled products.



So go take the tour and let us know how we’re doing.  If you or anybody you know needs cabinets or furniture – you know where to go.



On the Radar
December 20, 2008, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Design, On the Radar

Thanks to those of you supplying our addiction to modern design and culture, there’s been no lack of great links finding their way to the BUILDblog.  Today’s On the Radar, BUILD’s every-couple-of-weeks synopsis of what we’re up to, should keep you busy over the holidays.

Our new favorite design blog is the oh-so slick Contemporist.  Forward thinking and inspiring, we’re not sure how we got by without it.
-thanks to senior field correspondent Josiah


It’s that time of year again.  Each December the hard working peeps at the New York Times Magazine send us the “Year in Ideas” issue  <cut to visual of team BUILD frothing at the mouth>.  You can have the hard copy when we’re done with it – until then, the digital version oughta tide you over.

Currently we’re reading Tribes by Seth Godin, and we highly recommend getting a copy in your hands.  As per Wikipedia:
“Godin combines three elements in his writings. First, the end of the ‘TV-Industrial complex’ means that marketers no longer have the power to command the attention of anyone they choose, whenever they choose. Second, in a marketplace in which consumers have more power, marketers must show more respect; this means no spam, no deceit and a bias for keeping promises. Finally, Godin asserts that the only way to spread the word about an idea is for that idea to earn the buzz by being remarkable. ”


The short film “My Playground” by Kaspar Astrup Schröder does a phenomenal job of exploring architecture and human interaction.  BIG’s recent Mountain Dwelling project provides the backdrop as Team Jiyo bounces around the space like a couple of pin-balls.
-thanks to Kai-Uwe Bergmann

Bjerget MTN Dwelling


We’re big fans of the TED conference and Sir Ken Robinson’s speech “Do schools kill creativity?” has it all.  It’s informative, forward thinking, it challenges the status quo and he’s got that English gentleman sense of humor.  Robinson’s theory is that Intelligence is diverse and dynamic and creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.  Cheers to that.

Digital SLR cameras are commonplace, HDR photography is accessible to the masses and cameras are crossing over into the moving image.  With visual design blogs becoming the most informative source in our industry (at least for us), photography has never been more important as a tool for communication.  With that said, we’re always keeping a pulse on photography blogs and websites.  Recently we checked out Vincent Laforet’s uber-slick photography website and his New York Times “Lens” series was just the dose of Manhattan we needed.
-thanks to B.J.


For those of you in the Seattle area, the Henry Art Gallery is currently showing Richard Misrach’s show “On the Beach”, a PHENOMINAL series of large format color photographs.  Get your eyeballs over there before January 18th and support one of the better art venues in town.


As part of the new BUILD marketing package (to be released soon) we redesigned our logo and had a ton of fun doing so with Bill Reilly Design.


From Bill’s profile:
“Bill Reilly Design specializes in design solutions that compliment your branding efforts through creative services such as design, art direction, and electronic production. Bill Reilly Design is located in Seattle, Washington and has experience in creating advertising, brochures, logos, packaging, point of purchase displays, booth graphics and other creative ideas.”

If you’re looking at some new, hot branding strategies we recommend you give Bill Reilly a shout.  Check out some of his previous work here (600kb PDF).

Parador has released a new material called Laminat TrendTime 2 which emulates the color, texture and weathering of fruit and wine boxes.  While the material is marketed as a flooring application it seems like it has wider applications for walls and ceilings.
-thanks to senior field correspondent Josiah


As we’re designing up a cool modern house in Magnolia we’re looking into all the current products that make residential design so much fun.  We’ve been specifying Montigo fireplaces lately and have been very happy with the clean unobtrusive look of their steel and glass “fire-boxes”.  You can eighty-six the fake wood logs and, instead, install a bed of black shiny stones – hot.  If only their website was a clean and well designed as the product.


Here’s your coolio architect fix for the day, straight from the Netherlands (big surprise there I’m sure)
-provided by senior field correspondent Josiah


If you want an empty lot or a new house, building on a steep slope in Seattle is one of the few ways to do so these days.  Subsequently architects are getting very good at design applications for steep slopes and northwest hillside architecture is leading to some very handsome projects.  Architect Tim Hossner recently completed a residence at 4135 21st Ave SW in West Seattle that got our attention.  It’s also on the market and being listed by Bear’s Head LLC.
-thanks to John Nuler at Bear’s Head LLC


For those of you, like us, looking to build cost-effective modern homes the 100k house program will be of interest to you. The blog outlines “an attempt to build a modern and green home in Philly for $100,000 in construction costs”.
-thanks to Chris


…and what would a BUILDblog post be without poking fun at us architects.  Recently U.S. News published an article on the most overrated careers, one of which being architecture.  “When screenwriters give a hero a career, it’s often architecture”.

We learned of some good news that one of our favorite shops, Great Stuff, in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood has their website up and running.  Check it out here – or better yet, get down there and support a great design business.


Cheers! and we’ll see you in the new year.

December 15, 2008, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Design, Trades

We’re currently in the middle of designing a modern, timeless kitchen for a single family residence and it’s an exciting time in the design phase to do a bit of window shopping.  Because kitchens are technology and appliance driven, kitchen design seems to evolve more in tune with necessity and function as opposed to fashion.  We like that.  As we see it, an important part of sustainable design is simply designing in such a way that it’s not going to be replaced in 5 years because it fell out of vogue.  So at any rate, we re-familiarized ourselves with some of our favorite kitchen websites and, two or three drinks in, we came up with a list of 10 emerging details in kitchen design.  Some of these details have been around for a while – it’s just that they’re becoming more prominent and refined.  Some of these details are more timeless, more sensible than others but each seems to be emerging in exciting ways with the designers we admire most.

Kitchen islands for sitting + storage that look good.  Typically a kitchen island does one or the other and looks good, rarely both.  Lately we’re seeing some hybrid designs that integrate the two functions in clever ways.  The Poggenpohl Plusmodo line below uses a symmetrical cantilevered island – the storage underneath makes a change of material to clearly differentiate its function.  Overall the addition of storage to this island creates a more dramatic appearance and adds to the function.


Plane change = material change. It just looks better when the two happen together.  The Snaidero Kube kitchen below uses a stainless wrap at the range extension and a glossy white laminate at the raised bar seating to differentiate from the planes of wood.


The Snaidero Sintesi kitchen below uses a wrapped granite work surface to enhance the plane change from the laminate cabinets.


Tool walls and movable storage racks. Henrybuilt has done a nice job with their movable storage racks which either mount to a “picture rail”, hang from steel brackets or can simply sit on the counter.



The Boffi Grand Chef kitchen below has a sleek, integrated stainless steel bar for hanging utensils.


The Bulthaup System b3 uses a series of recessed rails (similar to picture rails) to hang hooks and racks from.


Pockets of intentional display. It’s probably best that most of the dishes and coffee mugs stay hidden behind doors.  But those Iittala tumblers you just bought deserve some attention.  The Henrybuilt island below creates an intentional display area for just such items.

Wall splashes. Like a backsplash but taller.  In the Henrybuilt design below, the termination line of the stainless steel tucks under the cantilevered shelf.  The backsplash material has a greater prominence within the material palette and the break occurs where there is already a material change.


Integration of hardware. The Boffi K14 series incorporates mitered door and drawer faces for grasping.  The finished look is sleek and minimal.


The Bulthaup System b1 series uses a similar method.  As it turns out the ultimate minimal cabinet hardware is none at all.



The Henrybuilt unit below includes full length steel pulls that integrate so nicely into the cabinet composition that it wouldn’t look as good without them.


Register grills as textures. In the Bulthaup System b1, below, the heat registers are integrated into the  toe kicks – thereby concealing the grills and making for a nice modern texture at the toe-kick.


…and the same for the Boffi Case 5 system which goes the distances by keeping the material consistent between the cabinets and register toe-kicks.


Extended / framed cabinet boxes. Henrbuilt has developed a nice detail which brings the box of the cabinet out slightly proud of the hardware.  It creates a clean modern look and keeps the hardware from sticking out too far.


Bending the countertop. The Snaidero Venus system below uses a simple bend in the plane of a countertop/bar for some pleasing drama.  We’re not sure how we feel about the  practicality and build-ability of this detail – but we’re impressed with the overall visual.


The idea can get a bit out of hand like in the Snaidero Acropolis system below.  But face it, any of us modern design fans would love to saddle up for a drink at this bar.


Contrast between highly engineered glossy surfaces and earthy wood grains.  The Bulthaup System b1 uses the constrast between the end grain of maple “butcher-block” stock and the clean, glossy white cabinet faces.  It’s a clever idea as nature is doing so much of the design work.


The Poggenpohl Integration system creates a sharp look with the horizonatl wood veneer grain surrounding a bank of stainless steel.


The Snaidero Sistema Zeta below pairs warm wood grains with high gloss white veneer – the rough stone also plays well with the composition.


These 10 details are just a quick study of what we see emerging in cabinet design, we must have missed many, many more concepts, details and materials.  So don’t be shy with that comments button…

The Work of Carlo Mollino
December 7, 2008, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Design, Rural Architecture

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

There’s a good chance that your college design professors never introduced you to the work of Carlo Mollino (1905 – 1973). Of the 7 architecture degrees here in our office – not one of us ever heard of the guy until recently. Maybe our professors didn’t want to create any more illusion around the profession of architecture than already exists (with Mollino’s playboy, jet-set lifestyle and all). Maybe it’s that architecture was only one of many hobbies for Mollino; who’s interests included car racing, flying airplanes and skiing. Or maybe it was that, later in life, he developed an affinity for photographing street hookers in his hometown of Turin. Tough to say, but here’s your primer on Mollino. For any of you that did happen to study him – we’d love to know how the guy was portrayed in academics.

Mollino has a strong portfolio of furniture design. The “Trestle Structure Table” (1949) below seems to have a heavy influence from his father, an Italian engineer. The design fits nicely into the northwest contemporary design philosophy that we’re still working to refine, 60 years later.

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]
Although not as technical, the “Table for Colonna House” (1954) also exhibits an elegant and refined form.

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

The gorgeous “2690 Cavour” desk is still in production by Zanotta and can be purchased here.


It was Mollino’s ski lodge architecture that first caught our eye. There is such a strong design intention with his alpine projects; the contrast it creates with most of the ski lodge architecture here in the northwest is embarassing. Mollino’s designs better represent the nature and luxury of skiing. The structures themselves reflect the elegance and craft of gliding down the slopes on a set of attenuated wood skis. The unbuilt Furggen station, below, creates patterns and rhythms from the required structural elements. The project also incorporates cable-car transportation to the structure – when’s the last time you worked a cable car into a project?

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

The Lago Nero Sledge-Lift Station (1947) in Salice d’Ulzio explores spatial form, structural expression and separation of materials. The finished geometry is indicative of current modern design – only Mollino was experimenting with these forms 60 years ago… and getting them built.


[Photos courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

Apartment building in Aosta (1953). So clean and modern it would still push the envelope of design in most American cities.

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

Chamber of Commerce of Turin (1972). One of the few buildings from the 70’s that doesn’t make us cringe.

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

Teatro Regio in Turin (1973). Did we mention that he had an erotic side to him?

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

Casa del Sole Building in Cervinia (1955)

[Photo courtesy Museo Carlo Mollino]

Mollino next to one of his aerobatic biplanes which crashed in 1958.

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

Mollino’s design for a aerobatic airplane (1962)

[Photo courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

Mollino in his Bisiluro race-car design (1955) which utilized an asymmetrical geometry made of two separate hulls: one for the driver and the other for the engine.



[Photos courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

In addition to being an accomplished downhill skier, Mollino helped document the art of skiing through photographs and text books on technique.


[Photos courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

So let’s see, we’ve got architecture, interiors, furniture, race cars, airplanes, skiing, did we leave anything out? Oh, right, the photo collections of scantily clad Italian prostitutes. You didn’t think we were going to leave that out did you? Afterall – we’re not your college architecture professors. Between 1956 and 1962 Mollino used traditional photography methods, from 1962 until his death in 1973 Mollino adopted Polaroid technology for the series.  If you’re doing your math like we are, you’re putting together that this was a 17 year project for Mollino.  Alrighty-then.



[Photos courtesy Carlo Mollino arabesques, Electa Press]

So there you go, the cliff notes on Carlo Mollino. Overachieving-genius, James-Bond-like stud, jet-setting-renaissance ladies-man or eccentric, fruity-ass, crazy guy with too much energy. Whadaya think?

If you are taken by Mollino’s life and work we highly recommend getting one of his books in your hands. The selections above are only a fraction of the thorough documentation available on each project and aspect of his life. “Carlo Mollino arabesques” by Electa press is our personal fav, and it can be purchase here or here.

The Architecture of Death
November 25, 2008, 12:30 am
Filed under: Architecture, Design

Typically we try and stay away from them, but about once a year we end up at a big box store for all that stuff you just can’t get at your favorite boutique grocery store.  So there we were, rounding the corner of bulk pet food, passing the film drop-off counter, approaching printers and home electronics when out of nowhere appeared the Universal Casket booth.


Casket models range from $800 to $1,100.  For another two-hundred bucks you can upgrade to the deluxe model which offers 18 gauge steel, a premium crepe interior and an adjustable bed mattress.  Across the top of the booth were sepia prints of the elderly being comforted with the terms: “NON-EMOTIONAL, NON-THREATING, INFORMED, AFFORDABLE”.

Each casket displays gratuitous curves and flutes at every opportunity.  Ornate faux-chrome swooping handles flank the sides of the high-gloss boxes.  Elaborate icons glob onto each corner, taking their design queues from a combination of religious emblems and gumball machine jewelry.


To put it mildly, we were terrified.  We could spend our entire productive lives dedicated to good design and architecture and still end up in one of these, without the right planning.  How convenient it would be for some distant relative, not even born yet, to pick out a custom casket for you while stocking up on paper towels and Otter-pops.  As the last expression of design in ones life we’re going to do everything in our power to avoid such a catastrophe.

So, to bring this back around to design we’re announcing the first BUILDblog design charette.  The Architecture of Death Design Charette is open to anyone and everyone.  You can send in your own design or simply point us in the direction of a design you admire.  The designs can be of caskets, urns, headstones, or whatever else seems like an appropriate way for the design-conscious to kick the bucket.  There is one requirement: the design solution has to be modern; it must be designed with materials and methods of our current time.  Send in a napkin sketch, a rendering, a written idea, a web link – whatever best illustrates the concept.  We’ll round-up all the ideas and post them for everyone to see in a couple weeks.  The author of the best concept (decided by team BUILD) will grab themselves a gift certificate at Peter Miller Books.

On the Radar
November 20, 2008, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Design, On the Radar, Seattle, Travel, Urban Architecture

On the Radar is BUILD’s every-couple-of-weeks synopsis of what we’re up to up.

Lately our favorite gratuitous image site is suckerPUNCHdaily which asks: “when was the last time you got punched by design?”
-thanks to Ryan


If you’re looking for more data to sink your teeth into head on over to Greenlineblog, it’s full of juicy information on design, technology and sustainability.
-thanks to Brian


The A-Cero website was new to us and the BUILD jury is still out.  Sexy architectural experience or overdesigned and complicated, you be the judge.
-either way, thanks to Josiah


A couple of weeks ago we started the Northwest Architecture Meetup group and rounded up the troops at Picnic for our first event.  If you live in or around Seattle and enjoy meeting design-minded peeps get yourself signed up for future soirees.  Check it out here.

We’ve got a new favorite drink.  A St. Germain is 1 shot gin, 1/2 shot St. Germain, 3 shots tonic water, throw a lime in there.


Porcelanosa out of Spain is manufacturing large porcelain tiles textured and graphically matched with a specific wood species.  The flooring material is said to be cost-effective,  maintenance free and extremely durable.  Typically we like materials to look like what they are but for some reason the images of Porcelanosa’s Woodtec line caught our eye.  It seems like this product line could have a wide range of uses like walls, backsplashes, indoor-outdoor surfaces… Find out more here.
-thanks to Ken


If you have not yet watched Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff close down our silly little blog immediately and watch it here.  Then email it to people you like.  Solutions can be found here.


Have we been drinking too much again or did this last election exhibit better communication graphics than all other elections combined?  Check out the dynamic maps, cartograms dingbats, icons and yes.. cupcakes.






For a very thorough study in brand logo identity over time check this out.
-thanks to Angela


For a hilarious study of personal identity guidelines give Tank Studio’s Christopher Doyle a visit.
-thanks to Angela


The California Academy of Sciences designed by Architecture God Renzo Piano opened up last month and our BUILD senior field correspondent sent us photos hot off the press.
-thanks to Alex for the photos


JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK re-opened on October 22nd.  The original TWA terminal by Eero Saarinen was given a $743M addition and update by Gensler and finally the elegant lines and cool lounges regain the lost romance of travel.  Get yourself on a flight to Manhattan and we’ll see you in the Deep Blue Bar for St. Germains.


There’s a new player in the modern lodging game.  i-escape’s website is a bit cluttered but it offers some hip hideaways and boutique hotels.  Afterall, you’ve got to compare the prices on tablethotels with something.

Modern cottages and cabins are a tough find but if you’re in need of lodging in Northern California look into the Healdsburg Cottages.  They’re website needs a nice modern update but the grounds look inspiring and the cottages, appropriately named Charles, Ray, George and Eileen, are little modern gems.
-thanks to ken

As far as non-fiction goes around here, Malcolm Gladwell is the bomb.  He just released Outliers, his latest book, on Tuesday November 18th and BUILD got a hot little copy in our hands.  “An ‘Outlier’ is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.”


Although Andrea Zittel has been producing art since the early 90’s we were only recently introduced to her work at MOMA.  Her recent projects look at our living spaces, functional household objects and daily behaviors.  She boils these items down to caricatures of habitation creating final pieces that are simple, humorous and refreshingly playful.  It’s nice to check in with her work after designing big houses all day.


The Bellevue Art Museum is at the tail end of John Grade’s: Disintegration Sculpture through Landscape; a phenomenal body of work that deserves some attention.  Get over to BAM, one of the few Steven Holl projects in the northwest, and check it out before the show closes on November 30th.


You most likely remember the provocative images from Chris Jordan’s “Running the Numbers” series which looks behind the curtain of our collective behavior in the U.S.  His photo montages are fascinating, haunting and infectious.  He recently spoke at the TED conference and if you’re a Seattle-ite get on over to Grey Gallery & Lounge on the Pike-Pine corridor and join us for the ARCADE release party on Wednesday, December 3rd which features Jordan’s “The Art of Waste”.


Despite the terrible market, nice projects continue to spring up in the northwest.  Portland’s newest addition, the Clinton Condominiums, relies on close collaboration between developer, architect and builder.  Hat’s off to developer Randy Rapaport who supported great design in a time when the path of least resistance is anything but.  The building is filling up with great homeowners, a bakery and a yoga studio.  Seattle take note – when you build sensible, timeless architecture, good peeps show up.
-thanks to Brian




Mini-malls, parking lots and big box stores seem to be the new focus of society-conscious architects willing to throw schematic ideas at real problems.  Recently, “The Washington Post assembled a team of artists, architects, engineers and developers to think creatively about what to do with spaces once occupied by big box stores”… Kudos to The Washington Post.  Read more about the second lives of big box stores here.

…that oughta keep you busy over the weekend

BUILD 2008 Halloween Costumes
November 2, 2008, 11:10 am
Filed under: BUILD LLC, Design

We’re just about done designing a home for an awesome client of ours who threw a Halloween party this year. He’s tracking the entire process on his blog and as it turns out, the costume party was held at the existing residence, soon to be mostly demolished. So basically, all the right variables came together and the temptation was just too great – we simply HAD to go dressed up as his new house. Today’s blog documents a different kind of design-build process… costume design-build; from schematics to construction to usage and eventual demolition.

The existing residence (and site of Halloween party)

The proposed residence

Costume design: schematics

Costume design: drawings

Costume design: box disassembly and model construction

Costume design: painting

Costume design: window mullion insertion and detailing

Kevin Eckert, Andrew van Leeuwen and Duff Bangs of team BUILD

Completed costumes and install (Josiah modeling for Kevin Eckert, our fearless CEO is a very busy man)

Spontaneous redesign

Field testing the design

Aftermath and post party analysis

1. 8.45pm: Cantilevered roof failure after Kevin bumps into “colorful hippy guy”.
2. 9.15pm: Shearwall failure, otherwise known as “racking”, occurs at west façade of master suite – culprit rolled away on skates.
3. 9.20pm: Hot tub and occupants separate from main structure.
4. 9.25pm: Catastrophic failure of rooftop guardrail.
5. 9.45pm: Structural failure of roof over bedrooms, subsequent leaking occurs.
6. 9.55pm: Partial failure of sunscreens.
7. Later: West face of kitchen takes direct blow from “guy dressed up as pro wrestler” – glass façade successfully resists lateral point load.
8. Later: Chimney disconnects from main structure
9. Much Later: Dangling sunscreen (refer to #6) becomes hazardous debris – nearly trips “sexy school teacher”.

Demolition & debris removal

Credits: Hats off to our man Duff who did EVERYTHING involved with this project.

[All photos, images and drawings by BUILD llc]

Also in Halloween news: the BUILD world headquarters had a cameo appearance by the one and only Gus Williams of the 1970’s Seattle Sonics.  Wowzer did he have some moves.

Happy Halloween everyone.