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.

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 idea of wholeness, we are informed by 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.

SUSTAINABILITY/GREEN/RESILIENCY

We are committed to designing ecologically sound and healthy environments in every 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.

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

Some clients may want to go beyond “green” or “sustainability” toward “resiliency” – designing our built environment to mitigate and protect against disasters and disruption of normal life.

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

HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND REVITALIZATION

We are 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.

We apply a broad perspective on preservation to all of our projects:

  • designing the new to fit into, and enhance, its existing context
  • designing to accommodate change while keeping existing character
  • respecting what went before while not copying the past

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
  • 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

“The places that call out to us are places that draw us in through our senses and emotions. They are the places where we can most truly be ourselves. Identifying the characteristics of such places is an essential aspect of designing and creating a home.”

Michaela Mahady, Welcoming Home

“Good architectural design is every bit as important as good nutrition. Both are good medicine for our physical and spiritual well-being, and a lack of either one can cause a myriad of unnecessary maladies.”

Sarah Susanka, The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live

Most of the houses we see every day are certainly adequate. They’re built with competence, they’re perfectly nice – but no more. Other houses, far fewer in number, have a more powerful impact. They go beyond competence and are satisfying in deeper ways – aesthetically, emotionally, intellectually, perhaps even spiritually. These “good houses” have the capacity to awaken the senses, memories and minds of their occupants, and inspire productive energies.”

Murry Silverstein, The Good House

“Red Here. Ochre there. Now lighten with yellow. Now soften with gray.” When the job was finished, he announced approvingly that the walls vibrated.

from Bernard Maybeck, Visionary Architect by Sally Woodbridge

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”

Julia Morgan, Architect

“Though I will continue searching for improvements, I won’t be firing off any big silver bullets, just hoping to forge a few more silver B-Bs. I will aim to go green by designing in efficiency, not by glamorous gadgetization. I will stick with green simple over Hummer green. Healthy. Environment Considerate. Dollarwise. Architonic. That, as best I can figure, is what a house should be.”

David Gerstel, Crafting the Considerate House

“The idea was to eliminate everything unnecessary, to make the whole as direct and simple as possible, but always with the beautiful as the final goal.”

Henry Greene, Greene & Greene Architects

“There is something bigger and better and more worthwhile than the things we see about us, the things we live by and strive for. There is an Undiscovered Beauty, a Divine Excellence just beyond us. Let us stand on tiptoe, forgetting the meaner things, and grasp of it what we may.”

Bernard Maybeck, Architect, when asked what the Palace of Fine Arts might say if it could talk