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“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


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. 

“Whether people are fully conscious of this or not, they derive countenance and sustenance from the “atmosphere” of the things they live in or with.”

Frank Lloyd Wright


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.

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 “sustainable” toward “resilient” – designing our built environment to mitigate and protect against possible disasters and disruption of normal life.

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

renovated victorian bay area ca

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 


“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 MahadyWelcoming Home

“The purpose of all architecture, the purpose of its spatial-geometric organization, is to provide opportunities for life-giving situations. The central issue of architecture, and its central purpose, is to create those configurations and social situations, which provide encouragement and support for life-giving comfort and profound satisfaction – sometimes excitement.”

Christopher AlexanderThe Nature of Order

“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 SilversteinThe 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 Architectby Sally Woodbridge

“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

“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, Architectwhen asked what the Palace of Fine Arts might say if it could talk
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