Portland Garden House


Like many US cities, substantial portions of Portland, Oregon are laid out on a rectilinear grid. One of the most common lot sizes in the gridded part of town is 50 feet wide by 100 feet deep. This house is tailored to one of these lots, with massing and features that relate it to its neighbors.


Entering the garden house, you get a strong sense of space and light. The home’s vertical circulation presents itself at the front door, but doesn’t invite immediate ascent. While the living room is the first space you notice, dining and kitchen are hinted at.


Crossing into the living room, the home’s layers become apparent. The open studio loft hovers above, framing the dining and kitchen, with a view to the back garden. Skylight floods over the stair, filling the space with a healthy glow.


In the Garden House’s building section, the overall spatial scheme is made clear – the lower two floors are mostly open, and a third level contains bedrooms and a roof terrace. Views through the house are emphasized, from north to south and east to west.


In plan, the home’s harmonious organization becomes clear. Living space is graduated from public to private; both front to back, and top to bottom. The home’s three gardens are seen here – the social garden at the front of the house, a more private family garden off the kitchen, and a sun-seeking sky garden on the third level.


The kitchen, which stretches across the back of the first floor, is open to both internal and external living spaces.


The dining and living areas are fully visible from the kitchen, but a partial height, enclosing wall shields kitchen mess from the living spaces.


The stair from the first to the second level gives more than vertical transit – it’s an alternate way to experience the space and views. The landing makes a great vantage point, and would be fun during a party.


The second level has a studio open to living below, and the master bedroom suite adjacent. A sliding door panel offers privacy or wide-open access.


From the studio, the skylit double height space reveals wide open views of the social garden and the neighbors’ houses beyond.


An axonometric view shows off the house’s sky garden and skylight to the living room. While the home’s clean modern composition contrasts with the neighbor’s more traditional pitched roofs and double-hung windows, its massing is similar, along with its front porch.


I adapted the Garden House’s design from a housing prototype designed by French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1920’s. Its 2,400 square feet are organized in a simple, modular way, keeping the house open to future needs and desires. I created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Portland Hill House


Portland, Oregon is a city with rich topography. Hills, ridges, valleys and promontories give the city texture and drama, as well as mold its neighborhoods and roadways. Slopes often present challenges – access can be tricky, and foundations are usually more elaborate. Yet the compensations are great; the views alone are worth it.


In Portland, hills have ample greenery – soaring conifers, dense woodlands and lush forest floors. These places can feel like they’re miles out in the country, when they’re often close to the middle of the city. I’ve designed this speculative house for a Portland hillside to embrace the beauty and character of its natural setting.


It’s in two parts: the main house with its vaulted living space, and a garage which includes a storage loft and studio/workshop on its lower level. These two pavilions are connected by a covered walkway at the front, and a generous terrace at the back.

plans 2

The layout of the house is clear and rational. Its form maximizes view and light, and its simple structure recalls sheds and other rural structures.


The main living level is aligned with the garage. Its spaces, including the master suite, are combined in one open volume. A large deck extends this space outdoors, and emphasizes the indoor/outdoor nature of this home.


The living area is oriented away from the street, toward the natural landscape and view. With Portland’s rich stock of firs, cedars & spruces, the view up is just as important as the view out.


The master bedroom is a private sanctuary, intimate and expansive.


The house’s street face is modest and welcoming. While the main house is just shy of 3,000 square feet, it doesn’t present a bulky image. There are three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and a powder room. I’d enjoy finding out how I can make it your home.

All design and images in this posting were created by me. The sculpture shown in the Master Bedroom rendering is called “Flying Without Wings”, and is the work of Jan Watson Flood. Her website: bronzeandcanvas.com


Portland Infill House

As Portland continues to attract new residents, its fixed land area must accommodate more residences. One way that the City of Portland has encouraged higher density is to enable development of lots previously considered unacceptably small. This speculative house design is tailored to one of these typical lots – 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The resulting “skinny house” capitalizes on all the code-required architectural features to create a neighborhood-friendly new home.


All the living space in this 1,700 square foot, three bedroom house has been concentrated on the upper level. This lofted space is open to daylight, both from full height windows and overhead clerestories.


Treetop views maximize daylight while maintaining privacy, and the gently rising roof offers an expansive sense of space.


The kitchen, located in the heart of the home, has its own unique roof form, gathering the focus of the living spaces and ensuring maximum sun throughout the day. Bedrooms are located away from the street for maximum privacy and quiet. A small back yard is accessible to both floors via a spiral stair.


A one-car garage is provided on the ground level – not required by Portland zoning, but useful for a variety of families. Two full-size bathrooms add to the appeal.


The home’s simple, clear design balances architectural interest with life-accommodating space. This basic design is really just the starting point – it welcomes input from a specific site, the people who build it, and the family who calls it home.


Landmark Apartment Restoration

Located in Mies van der Rohe’s landmark steel and glass apartment towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, this apartment was in need of updating and backdating at the same time. My design for its renovation was guided by the building itself; to honor its groundbreaking architecture.

04-860 16L living Simple, unstained wide-plank maple floors were installed in the public spaces, echoing the light travertine pavers that cover the plaza below.

03-860 16L plan

The apartment layout was returned to original condition, with non-original closets and column enclosures removed.

06-860 16L kitchen

The kitchen was completely gutted. Bulthaup cabinets & stainless steel counters were used to evoke the building’s original Metalcraft cabinets. Satin-finished glass tile backsplashes recall the ground floor’s recessed curtainwall. Honed basalt floor pavers, heated by the building’s radiant floor system, create a comfortable, durable foundation.

07-860 16L kit drawer

The highly customizable Bulthaup cabinets were exploited to maximum effect. All base cabinets utilized deep drawer storage, making this a very space efficient kitchen.

09-860 16L master bath

The modest bathrooms were given a finish upgrade, with glass tile, Duravit fixtures and Hansgrohe faucets. Custom stainless steel trim wraps the shower entrance.

This project was an independent commission. I performed all design, development, documentation and presentation. I administered construction, and created all the photos and drawings in this post.

For more information about the building, please have a look at its website: www.860880lakeshoredrive.com

Pavilion Spyros

This holiday villa, on the west coast of mainland Greece, is intended to eventually become the owner’s retirement home. It’s located high on a cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.


Closely hugging the rocky site, the house is composed of three elements – the main house, terrace and guest house. The materials are stone, concrete and glass.


The site’s casual layout contains simply ordered spaces, composed with concrete columns and stone walls. Following local tradition, the loadbearing dressed stone is left bare.


The interior is simple and open, wrapped with the expansive view. The rustic stone walls contrast with sandblasted concrete and honed stone floors.


As can be seen in the sections above, there’s a deep overhang along the house’s western edge. Made possible by the reinforced concrete construction, it controls the hot afternoon sun while maintaining the view.


The main elevation shows Pavilion Spyros’ simple elements, understated and tailored to the site.

This house, not yet constructed, is an independent commission. I created the design, and made all drawings and renderings.

2 East Erie

Sometimes it helps to have a good relationship with your neighbors! Graham, Anderson, Probst & White had been doing various architectural projects for the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (aka Carpenters Union) for years. Given that the Carpenters’ headquarters were across the street from GAPW’s office, it’s not surprising. When the Carpenter’s Union decided to replace their existing, four-story building with a new mixed-use development, they insisted on GAPW as their architect.


Located just two blocks from Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue, the Carpenters Union’s property was prime for residential, retail and office development. Partnering with The John Buck Company, the Carpenter’s Union sought to improve their headquarters while capitalizing on their land’s value.

The resulting 40-story, mixed-use tower became know as 2 East Erie. With one of Chicago’s premier late-night bar & grills as its sole retail tenant, the rest of the base was composed of lobbies for the office and residential occupancies, as well as a meeting hall for the Carpenters Union.


The base of the building was clad in warm brick and stone, seen here at the residential lobby entrance. A laminated glass canopy provides shelter while minimizing shadows.


Inside the residential lobby, the exterior’s theme of tonal framework is expressed in rich oak panels.


In the apartments, it’s all about corners. Floor to ceiling glass and column free corners combine to make apartments feel light and spacious. Unlike most apartment buildings, the compact layout of 2 East Erie allowed us to place the living areas on the corners. Even inboard units have projecting glass bays, giving the living space multi-directional views.


This elevation drawing makes clear the building’s complex development. The base, composed in two parts, reflects the scale of adjacent neighborhood buildings. This articulation of scale masks the six-level parking garage and its sloping floors within. The next five floors of the tower house the Carpenter’s Union headquarters, and the remaining floors are dedicated to residential. The penthouse has apartment amenities, including a roof deck, workout room and party room.

My work on this project was done while I was an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I performed design, development and documentation, including full three-dimensional study of the tower’s interior and exterior. I also did all the residential floor plan layout, including unit mix studies and accessibility conformance.

Photographs in this post were created by Mark Ballogg of Steinkamp Ballogg Photography. I made the rendered drawings.


Millennium Park Plaza

The goal of this project was to revitalize the base of a mixed-use tower in the heart of Chicago. Originally built in the 1970’s, the tower base’s mix of sub-grade retail, office and residential lobbies and under-utilized outdoor plaza space were crying out for help. Our design sought to simplify the many floor levels of the existing retail space, with the goal of creating larger, more leasable spaces that opened directly to street level. Lobbies were enlarged and upgraded, and the exterior was given a fresh new image.


The residential lobby was transformed into a glassy, light-filled hall. Rich, warm materials greet the residents as they return home, raising the profile of the building to match its premium, downtown location.


The retail portion of the building faces Michigan Avenue. It combines large retails spaces, which have direct access to the street, with a mall. The mall acts as a hub, connecting small retail, office and residential lobbies and a new entrance to a nearby train station.


As can be imagined, connecting all these spaces was quite complex. Working with existing conditions further challenged the design team to ensure that every bit of structure, ductwork and piping was accounted for.


One of the greatest challenges was accounting for emergency exits, both existing exits of the office and residential portions of the tower above, and new exits required by the enlarged retail spaces.

This work was performed while I was employed at Solomon Cordwell Buenz. On this project, I performed the role of project architect; coordinating site exploration, engineering consultants and SCB’s design team to ensure that all the project’s features were safe and feasible, while maximizing space and minimizing construction cost.

The renderings featured in this post were created by SCB.




Rialto Theater Condominiums

The Rialto Theater is the heart of downtown Joliet, Illinois. While the focus is on the historic theater, this whole block development includes retail, offices, and apartments. The 1926 project’s architects were Rapp & Rapp, who often designed mixed-use theater complexes.


The theater was given an extensive restoration in the 1980s, but the rest of the complex remained in original, deteriorating condition. The residential portion was abandoned, and found to be in an advanced state of decay when Graham, Anderson, Probst & White was retained.


After thorough investigation, it was determined that the residential building was structurally beyond saving, so the client requested that we study replacing it.


Our project combined ground floor retail with seven floors of condominiums. One special requirement was that our building had to accommodate a theater exit that was part of the original residential building. The textured precast concrete panels of the new building recall the molded terracotta panels of the original complex.



I laid out the condominium units to be as flexible as possible. As there was very little residential development in downtown Joliet, it was not clear what the market for this building would be. By carefully arranging kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces, the floor could be maximized for smaller units (plan above) or larger units (plan below).

I designed this project while an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I created all the photos, renderings and plan drawings in this post.

1 East Wacker Building Standards

1 East Wacker, located on the north edge of Chicago’s Loop, opened in 1962. It was built by an insurance company, the same company, after several name changes, that owns it today. With 4″ thick white marble cladding and stainless steel window frames, 1 East Wacker is a high quality building that has stood the test of time.


The style spans generations – while the clean simple lines of the exterior belong to sixties modernism, they’re rooted in Streamline Moderne, an earlier form of modernism closely associated with Art Deco.

As clean and simple as the exterior was, inside it was showing its age. Like most office towers that have been leasing space for decades, 1 East Wacker’s interior had a mishmash of public spaces, the result of tenant buildouts and multiple remodeling campaigns. Graham, Anderson, Probst and White was retained over a period of three years to carry out several projects aimed at unifying the public space while upgrading the rentability of the building. I led all the projects, which improved lobbies, security, toilet facilities and corridors.


The elevator lobby and connecting public corridors on each floor were given new finishes that built on existing elements like the black elevator entry trim, while introducing fresh new carpet and wallcovering. New lighting wall sconces were used to relate to the main floor lobby, and a simple coved ceiling tied the space together.

Public toilets are often neglected in office buildings. This building had a variety of toilet room finishes, including some that were original to the 1962 construction. The toilet rooms were given a substantial upgrade with materials that relate to the lobby finishes.


Moving away from the traditional mosaic tile typically used in public restrooms, I specified much larger porcelain tile for the floors and plumbing walls. This achieved a number of important things – it gave the building a more modern image, enhanced cleanability, and enriched the image while controlling costs.


Black granite, the same as that used for the building base and the elevator lobby borders, was used for the sink counter.  Towel dispensers and waste disposal were recessed into the counter to minimize clutter and water drips on the floor.


The toilet stall area had major upgrades. The stall dividers, originally painted and often rusty, were replaced with stainless steel. Not only do the stainless partitions relate to the building’s stainless window frames, they also expand the sense of space in this somewhat confined area. Without paint, durability is enhanced, as well as cleanability. Wall sconces were also added to supplement the previous all-downlight lighting.

These upgrades have been well received by the tenants, both existing and prospective. By addressing such seemingly mundane areas as lobbies, corridors and restrooms, the owner has demonstrated their commitment to their tenant’s pride and well being. It has also reinforced the long term viability of the building they created and care for.

I performed all design, development, documentation, material and color selection and construction administration of the above projects while an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. All photos, drawings and renderings in this post are created by me.

Unitrin Insurance Headquarters

I designed a full floor of offices for the executive and legal departments of Unitrin Insurance. This was located in the Unitrin Building, a 40-story tower located at the intersection of Chicago’s State Street and the Chicago River. Unitrin built this building in 1960, and have proudly occupied it ever since. Elements of this office buildout recall the building’s exterior to honor the company’s history and stability, but also to give the customers and executives who visit this floor a little reminder of where they are.


Upon arriving in the floor’s elevator lobby, the visitor’s eye is immediately drawn to the glowing wall at the end of the reception lobby. This glazed wall is free-standing, and combines artificial light with daylight.


The reception desk, to the right of the entrance, features raised mahogany millwork, with a Cherokee white marble transaction counter, the same stone as used for the exterior of the building.


Looking across the reception desk, the relationship of the glass sign wall with the windows can be seen. There’s another window behind the glass wall.


The reception area had many design alternatives. We started with a simple, streamlined modern approach. This was seen by Unitrin’s project management team as in keeping with the building’s streamlined, minimalist aesthetic. I provided rendered three-dimensional views to facilitate speed and comprehension of the space.


More detail was tried, but the top executives still weren’t falling in love with their space. I suspected that a more traditional approach would be appreciated, so I prepared three distinct treatments for millwork, and had the alternates priced by a couple of local millwork fabricators.


Scheme C was full-on traditional, and given the amount of wood and detail, it was no surprise that it was the most expensive. But it was the scheme that the executives loved, so we proceeded with it.


Traditional millwork was used throughout the floor, including the boardroom kitchen (above). The black granite counters match the black granite at the base of the building.


Three dimensional renderings were used throughout the project to study form and materials. In yet another homage to the building’s exterior image, the existing painted metal elevator doors and frames were clad in stainless steel. The doors were etched with vertical bands in the same number and proportion as the exterior elevation of the executives’ beloved tower.


This work was completed while I was an employee at Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I provided complete project design, development and construction management services.

All drawings, renderings and photographs in this post were created by me.