The fundamental principles that inform our approach to architectural design are wholeness, sustainability, and revitalization.

WHOLENESS

The understanding of wholeness, as taught by architect/professor Christopher Alexander and others, relates to the interconnectedness of things, and to making things that have the character of living systems. Designing toward wholeness is about creating places that support human spirit and activity, in harmony with the natural world.

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Wholeness is a point of view that shapes how we behave and what we create, and we draw from many related sources in our design and to help convey ideas to clients. Sustainable, or green, design and historic preservation are natural outgrowths of this way of thinking.

Alexandra Saikley was inspired by professor Christopher Alexander at UC Berkeley and his teachings of wholeness as applied to design. Using these timeless principles in practical ways, she understood from them a way of creating built environments that nourish people’s lives.

Also in keeping with the ideas of wholeness, we are informed by the point of view of architect Sarah Susanka, author of the popular “Not-So-Big” series of books. She describes residential design in straightforward terms for the ways people truly live and use their homes, and provides many examples that can be illustrative for our clients.

SUSTAINABILITY

We are committed to designing ecologically sound and healthy environments, and we bring our knowledge of these principles to each project. This may simply mean that we enact a few targeted sustainability measures, or it may entail more complex systems—like creating net-zero-energy and net-zero-water environments.

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In every project we present the benefits and costs of green options to determine the client’s priorities. “Green” is a catch-all term that is used to describe choices in the design and construction process that have overlapping environmental goals, including:

  • protecting people’s health
  • reducing resource consumption
  • lowering ongoing energy requirements
  • minimizing pollution

Alexandra Saikley is a Green Point Advisor with Build It Green. The firm’s staff includes LEED Accredited Professionals (AP).

HISTORIC PRESERVATION & REVITALIZATION

We are studied and experienced in historic preservation, and believe that our communities are enriched when we preserve and revitalize historic structures. We focus on the marriage of preservation and “green” when working on older structures.

Ecological, or Green, design goals are addressed in the following ways:

Design in relationship to the site
  • Situate the building and landscape elements to take advantage of the sun and the shape of the land, and to protect soil, water, and wildlife
Build less
  • Work with what already exists, use salvaged materials, and design for efficient use of space—building less has the biggest impact on minimizing energy and other resource requirements
Minimize resource consumption & protect human health
  • Choose sustainable, low-toxic materials and building systems, considering their lifetime environmental impact
  • Recycle waste
Minimize energy requirements
  • Situate the building and landscape elements to take advantage of the sun and the shape of the land, and to protect soil, water, and wildlife
Design in relationship to the site
  • Choose equipment and building systems that minimize energy requirements—a building’s energy usage creates its largest environmental impact over the lifetime of the building
Minimize pollution
  • Choose low-toxic materials to protect indoor air quality and the larger environment
Design to last
  • Create beautiful, functional, and well-built spaces that will be timeless and durable—there is a large environmental impact when a building is torn down or altered because it was poorly constructed or becomes stylistically outdated