Substance Architecture


substance the real or essential part of anything; essence, reality, or basic matter.

Creating architecture of substance requires searching for the essential—the essential character of a place, properties of a material, values of an institution, and needs of a client. These characteristics transcend time and style to reflect more universal principles. By its nature, this search is reductive. It distills often complex and seemingly divergent desires into a unified, irreducible whole—the basic matter.

This search involves two important procedures: research and iteration. Research is broadly defined. At its most basic, it involves asking questions and, more importantly, listening to the answers. Effective problem solving requires, first and foremost, a clear understanding of the problem being solved. The true nature of most design challenges, however, is not readily apparent. The particularities must be drawn out and examined. Only through thorough, probative inquiry can a problem be completely and accurately defined - laying the groundwork for a successful outcome.

As important as research is to defining the architectural problem, the process of iteration is equally critical to finding an optimal solution. Iteration—solving and resolving—elucidates the issues and refines the work. Most architectural problems have multiple solutions; the full range of which can best be discovered by working with our clients to generate alternatives. Ultimately, design is about making choices, and iteration is fundamental to this act of discovery and selection.

Overlaid upon all of this is a Midwestern sensibility that favors the direct and pragmatic over the stylistic and arcane. We subscribe to Occam’s Razor, or the Law of Parsimony, which suggests that the simplest of two competing theories is to be preferred. This principle is as applicable to design as it is in science, and imparts a discipline and rigor on the work.

It is our fervent belief that this process best takes place in an open studio environment in which ideas are freely shared, discussed, and explored. We believe in spirited dialogue and have organized ourselves accordingly. Our open, collaborative studio benefits from the fresh ideas of recent graduates tempered by the experience of more seasoned staff and informed by professionals practicing in other visual disciplines. This assures a careful balance between the new and the known working in concert.

The result is clear, meaningful, functional, and often poetic spaces and experiences which serve our clients and advance their goals. It is our hope that in advancing the goals of our clients we are advancing the discipline of architecture as well.

This is architecture of substance—intelligently conceived, collaboratively developed, and effectively delivered.

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