architecture w / by Michelle Linden

When discussing modern architecture in the United States, a great deal of focus is put on the design happening in Chicago, LA, and New York. While these cities are obviously deserving of the attention they receive, there are many other parts of the country that are also creating and developing modern architecture.

When we first moved to Seattle, I have to admit that I wasn't very informed about the Pacific Northwest aesthetic. But after living here for a few years, I'm learning more and more about the local modern movement. One of the firms that is pushing the modernist aesthetic is architecture w. This firm is currently working on a diverse range of projects -both in scope and scale- throughout the Pacific Northwest and Japan. With 3 locations in Nagoya, Tokyo, and Portland Oregon, their designs resonate both here and abroad.

Below are a few photos of a home remodel in Portland. Although architecture w has many great projects, I wanted to feature this house because its a local project that clearly illustrates the modernist pac-nw style, as well as the firm's own Japanese influence.

Remodels can be extremely difficult, especially when you want to keep a part of the original shell. This project succeeds in retaining a glimmer of the existing home, but provides an addition that is both current and connected to the original home. It reminds me of the re-modeled homes we saw in Tokyo, where homeowners are forced to build up rather than out, due to the high density of the city's development.

I love the fact that the architects kept the original footprint and siding, and extruded the form skyward in order to create more space. The dark vertical siding creates a spectacular dialogue with the existing horizontal lighter siding. In my opinion, the contrast in materials is so successful, in part because the form of the addition is so simple. And of course, we all know that its much harder to successfully design a simple structure, than to create an ornate design.

I will certainly continue to follow architecture w's projects, and am excited to see their influence on the local design here in the northwest.