How We Work

At the heart of every design is a consideration of the project’s larger civic role. We have been deeply influenced by, and honored to work among, the widest range of communities and contexts. The buildings we design have become beloved resources for and symbols to the communities that they serve and, in many cases, have become regional and national landmarks.

Our process blurs the boundaries between urban design and architecture. With the understanding that architecture and planning should work in tandem to preserve the human scale and sense of well-being, we’ve proven around the world that high density is not contrary to high amenities of shared gardens, open communal spaces, and access to nature and light. 

We do not specialize in one building type. We have extensive experience designing diverse buildings across typologies, including museums, cultural centers, libraries, residential developments, mixed-use centers and transportation hubs. We are able to effectively work on multiple design projects simultaneously because we are unusually nimble and flexible as a firm, adapting quickly without strict specialization. This open structure allows great flexibility and capacity to undertake a wide variety of projects of varying size, typology and complexity.

We evolve an aesthetic in dialogue with the geographic location, cultural context and heritage, and particular nature of each building’s program. This results in a particular aesthetic that is unique and appropriate to each client and assignment.

Our centralized design process allows us to undertake some of the largest and most complex projects in the world while also maintaining a personalized approachOver 50 years, we have developed a personalized and hands-on approach to design, which starts with the creation of a core project team. Each project is served by a group of project architects directed by a single Principal, ensuring that the design intent is maintained and relationships are held from concept through completion.

We leverage an expanded team of specialists and technical experts with whom we have been collaborating together for decades. Our professional network includes the world’s leading landscape architects, engineers, lighting designers, acousticians, graphic and signage designers and a full range of other specialists. We believe that a project’s success is founded on this collaborative and integrated team approach.

Architectural model-making is at the center of our process. We start each design with scale models of the site and its surroundings, often working at different scales to test ideas and continually assess the project’s physical and spatial evolution together with our clients. We find that working with physical models result in the best understanding by the client team and minimizes the surprises that occur in later phases of the project. We employ an in-house team of expert model-makers who work side by side with our architects throughout the design stages. We match the traditional mode of making architectural models with the use of the most advanced digital computing tools. 

Our designs are informed by industry, and by an understanding of construction technology in the locales in which we work. We often begin our dialogue with industry professionals at early stages of our work. Our team understands that high-quality construction is best achieved by engaging issues of constructability during the design stages and find that one of the best tools to test our ideas are full-scale construction mock-ups. Working together with the builders, we review building assemblies and refine construction details concurrently as we document the project.  This allows us to directly engage ideas together with our clients and adjust the design, often to the benefit to cut cost and recognize time-saving techniques before construction begins.

Published in Practice on August 14, 1967

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