Harrison Architects


Green Roof Garage in National Pepsi Campaign


Venturing onto YouTube today, I came across the above advertisement for Pepsi's new humanitarian/environmental effort, and was surprised to see my own green-roofed garage!

A couple years ago fashion/rock star photographer Karen Moskovitz came over with a young model family to shoot some stock "lifestyle" photos and video using our garage as the backdrop. (That's not me watering the roof!) This is the first of the images to bear fruit, as far as I know. One funny thing is that while the clip shows the fellow watering the roof--which definitely makes a better video--we very rarely need to do that, since the roof is planted with drought-tolerant grasses and sedums.

It's a bit odd to be shilling Pepsi, even if very indirectly, but I do like the idea that we are clearly living in someone's idea of a better future!


Best Green House of the Month


3716 Springfield, a zero-energy home, built by our intern Molly Fogarty (shown far right, installing Serious Windows) and her studio-mates from Studio804, was recognized at Best Green House of the Month for November 2009 by GreenSource Magazine.

Built to LEED for Homes Platinum standards in Kansas City, Kansas, the house has 22 solar panels, a residential wind turbine, a geothermal heat pump, ERVs, recycled materials, low flow faucets, dual flush toilets and reclaimed and FSC certified wood. For more information about the house e-mail: molly@harrisonarchitects.com.

The home, built by students from the University of Kansas, is also mentioned in the Dec/Jan 2010 issue of Dwell Magazine saying, "The program spits out talented alumni like fizzy water through a seltzer nozzle." (Dan Maginn)

It is also featured in the February 2010 issue of Metropolis Magazine in "Platinum at a Price" by Daniel Akst.

For more images of the process and completed project please go to www.studio804.com.


Welcome to HARRISON architects!


HARRISON architects welcomes three new faces!

Geoff Briggs (senior staff) comes to us from EDGE LLC. A certified Sustainable Building Advisor and beta tester for our new software, ArchiCAD, Geoff is totally tech-savvy and has been getting us through our transition to Building Information Modeling smoothly.

Matt Wasse (project architect) worked previously for our friends at Case Design and Project Management. Rob met Matt during the Passive House Consultant Training they both took this summer. Designer and SketchUp-master extraordinaire, Matt is a perfect fit for HARRISON architects’ sustainable goals.

Molly Fogarty (intern architect) just graduated from the University of Kansas and received her M.Arch. She specialized in sustainable design/build, and helped design and build the first LEED Platinum house in Kansas.  Molly brings a youthful spark to the office as well as a keen eye for design.

Please read more About Us!

Eco House Book by Terence Conran


EcoHouseBook by Terence ConranHARRISON architects Green Roof Garage in EcoHouseBook

I am proud to announce that our little green-roofed garage has been published again, this time a double-page spread in Terence Conran's beautiful new Eco House Book. I have been a big fan of Terence Conran's since my school days in Toronto in the '70's. It is an honor to be included in one of his books. Other architects represented include several for whoem I have great admiration: Glenn Murcutt, Steven Holl, and Obie Bowman.

Like Conran's previous house books, this one is equal parts how-to and inspiration, this time with an eye towards making gorgeous places with less environmental impact. It includes sections on the basics of green heating, cooling, lighting and water, and house components: windows, floors, walls and ceilings as well as furniture and fittings. The design section covers ideas for both new construction and renovation. Outdoor spaces are covered in detail, including green roofs, gardening and landscaping. Eco-friendly maintenance gets a nod as well. The 17 case studies are all testimony to the face that beauty and eco-friendly can walk hand in hand.

The book is available locally from Elliot Bay Books.


"Ultimate Garages" in The Boulevard Magazine


Two of our projects, the Sproull-Radke Green Roof Workshop, and the Barbat-Harrison Garage, appear online in the June issue of The Boulevard Magazine, which covers art, fashion and design in New York City and Long Island. I haven't seen the print version yet. It may only have the Green Roof Workshop.

Here's a link: http://www.boulevardli.com/index.php/design/124-the-ultimate-garages.html


Not So Big Remodeling


Not So Big Remodeling Front Cover

Sarah Susanka's latest book, Not So Big Remodeling is out in local bookstores and available online.  (Purchasing through the online link benefits Lake and Park School, which my son attends.) On March 16th, 2009, USA Today published an article featuring the book and the importance of "living better, not bigger." You can click here to read the article.
About the book, Sarah Susanka says "It is wonderful exposure for a subject whose time has definitely come. With the economic downturn and the desire to make our homes more energy efficient and sustainable, there are many homeowners who are looking for ways to make their existing homes more closely coincide with their dreams of "Home."  Co-author Marc Vassallo and I are hopeful that this latest book in the Not So Big House series will help answer those questions."
There is a special Not So Big Remodeling page on the Not So Big website. 

And that's a photo of the Thein Durning Renovation on the back cover! We are very excited to have one of our projects featured in this book.


G/MAG on Green Roof Workshop


Gwen Cassidy over at G/MAG has blogged about Jim Sproull and Susan Radke_Sproull's Green Roof Workshop, calling it "A Guy’s Ultimate Garage Wet Dream."  Have a look:


Amanda came across this post while researching materials for our micro-ecovillage project in Honolulu. I hadn't seen this site before, and spent a couple hours clicking through it. You'll find bits on fashion, design, food, vehicles, music and Hollywood's green celebrities. The well-designed site nicely manages to allow that green can be sexy.


The Northwest Green Home Primer


National green building force-of-nature and friend Kathleen O'Brien of O'Brien and Company, along with co-author Kathleen Smith, have written a book on getting a green home built in the Northwest titled The Northwest Green Home Primer. Harrison Architects contributed to several sections, including the section on working drawings, and the one on rain screen wall construction. The rain screen wall section was illustrated with photos of the Harding Home under construction. The book is available from Timber Press in Portland. I think it is going to be a great resource for homeowners of our area interested in building green.


The Northwest Green Home Primer Cover

How Green is Your Renovation?


Over the holidays I participated in a "roundtable discussion" on green renovation that appears in the April issue of Metropolitan Home. You can read it online here: <http://www.pointclickhome.com/metropolitan_home/articles/met_eco>.

"Roundtable discussion" is in quotes because the interview was conducted via e-mail. Each of us answered questions from the interviewer and cc'd the other participants, so we had a chance to respond to the others' comments, in a way. The answers were then edited and assembled together to simulate all of us sitting around a table talking. While necessary to fit the wide range of answers into a magazine article, the editing removed some of the subtleties of all of our responses, as you will see. But it's great to see Met Home stepping up to the green table, as it were. I was an avid reader of Met Home when I lived in New York City, and have always appreciated the aesthetic sense of the editors. I'm very pleased to have been part of this!

The questions were all good ones. Here is one of my full answers:

MH: What are three very important things people should think about when they begin planning a house (or apartment) renovation?

The first question I ask a prospective client is "Have you talked to a real estate agent?" The most environmentally friendly solution to the problem of a house or apartment that doesn't fit current or future needs is to move to one that does! Chances are there is another person or family out there for whom the current house will be perfectly fine. No renovation at all has the least impact. Almost any major renovation is going to require that the owners move out of the house while the work is being done, and then move back in once the work is complete.  (Or brave the chaos and inconvenience of living in a construction zone.) Buying a new place they only need move once. A major house renovation is likely to take at least six months and probably more like a year to design and permit, and then another six months to a year to build. If they can find an appropriate place to buy, they could be into their new home and comfortable within a couple months. I suggest they take the amount of equity they have in their house, add it to the amount they were planning on spending on the renovation, and then see what they can find out there on the market for that total. Only after they've done that, and looked hard at the scope of work they're undertaking and their connection to the immediate neighborhood and local community, do we start talking about a renovation.

The second question would be "How long do you plan on living in this place?" Virtually all of my clients plan on living in their houses the rest of their lives. That suggests possibilities and considerations that wouldn't come into play if they imagined they'd be moving on to another home in five years. For example "payback period" for green choices and "resale potential" become relatively meaningless, while "aging in place" becomes quite important.

The third big question is "Should this be a renovation or should we deconstruct the house and start from scratch?" (Obviously not an issue for apartments...though there were a few in New York City I would have liked to deconstruct...) Of course I would not suggest this route to the owners of a house with significant merit, either architectural or sentimental. When I first started my practice in Seattle this was a last resort--we would do all we could to keep as much as possible of an existing house. These days I am much more likely to consider deconstruction right off the bat. Two things have changed: a sense of urgency about climate change, which suggests a rigorous consideration of the energy use of a building over its lifetime, and the spectacular increases in the cost of construction over the last four or five years. If we are extending the usefulness of a house by another hundred or so years, we had better do all we can to reduce its energy consumption over that period. The bulk of houses that are coming up for renovation these days (50's and earlier) were built at a time when energy use was not really considered. It is much easier and less expensive (even in initial capital costs) to build a high performance house from scratch than to renovate one to the same standard. The systems of these houses are reaching the end of their useful life. A renovation of a '50's or earlier house invariably includes replacing all of the main systems of the house--plumbing, heating and electrical--which require ripping in to many of the interior walls, as well as replacing or upgrading windows and roofing. We are left then, with a shell of 2x4 studs often needing considerable futzing with to accommodate the new design, a shell that can only fit R-13 insulation unless we remove the original siding to add rigid insulation on the exterior. At that point, deconstruction is a better path.

OK, if I had four questions the fourth would be "How much is enough?" But I'll leave it at that for now.


Green Above, Chrome Below


Well, in fact there's not a lot of chrome on any of the bikes in my garage, but it's a good headline, eh?

Our green-roofed garage appeared on Dwell Magazine's blog on Monday.



Sunset Magazine: "Eco-savvy Garage"


Jim Sproull and Susan Radke-Sproull's Green-Roofed Garage/Workshop has been published in the July 2007 issue of Sunset Magazine. Jennifer Matlack's article "Eco-savvy Garage" can be found on page 76 and 77, illustrated by my photos. It is a great honor to appear in Sunset, and become part of a history of regional architecture and design that goes back to 1898!


Seattle @home Magazine: "Weighing the Green of Green"


The summer 2007 issue of Seattle @home Magazine includes an article titled "Weighing the Green of Green" by Kirsten DeLara, illustrated in part with large spread of the kitchen of the Lavender Farm house we designed, as well as quoting me and my green building colleagues Jon Alexander, Tom Balderston and George Ostrow, and BuiltGreen executive director Aaron Adelstein. The article is a great introduction to residential green building.


Our Clients Are "Seeing Green" in Pacific NW Magazine


This past weekend, our clients Alan and Amy Thein Durning and their family, and the non-profit Alan heads up, Sightline Institute, were the focus of a cover story titled "Seeing Green" in the Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest Magazine by award-winning author Bill Dietrich.

Read the story here:

Here's a quote: "Durning and the Sightline staff of 10 . . . want to change our American system so doing the right thing is also the cheapest, easiest and most fun thing. Neighborhoods where it's easier to walk than drive. Roads and insurance that cost by the mile. Homes and appliances that use less energy. Healthy habits."

Thein Durning KitchenPart of their family goal of aligning their way of  life with their values included renovating a compact house in walkable Ballard. Read about the Thein Durning's environmentally friendly house renovation here:

Alan and Amy and the kids have also been experimenting with living in Seattle without owning a car. (Imagine that!) Read about their "Year of Living Carlessly" at this link:


Harrison Architects in the Top 50


In the November/December 2006 issue of Northwest Home & Garden, Harrison Architects was named one of the Top 50 architects in the Seattle Metro area.

There are 250 architecture firms in the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and I would guess fewer than half of residential architects are AIA members. We are quite pleased with this recognition.


Two Projects in Fall issue of Westsound Home & Garden


Westsound Home & Garden Green RoofsThe Barbat-Harrison Green Roof Garage and the Sproull-Radke Green Roof Workshop were chosen to illustrate a very nicely done article on green roofs in the Fall issue of Westsound Home & Garden, on your newsstands now. Kudos to author Kathleen Byrne-Barrantes for her well-researched coverage. Westsound Home & Garden's covers home and lifestyle on the Kitsap Penisula, "from Bainbridge Island to Gig Harbor."

Project of the Week


The Barbat-Harrison Garage has been selected as the "Project of the Week" on Greenroofs.com!


Greenroofs.com is a great resource--have a look.


Man Space Cover


The Barbat-Harrison Green Roof Garage made the cover of Man Space! ManSpace: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory is Sam Martin's new book on places men make for themselves.

Take a look at pre-release listing on Taunton's website here, and the Amazon listing here, which includes a short review from Publisher's Weekly.


Successful AIA COTE Case Study


AIA COTE Tour Last night we had 17 architects over for an AIA Seattle Committee on the Environment Case Study tour of our green roofed garage. After Dee Williams had to back out of bringing her Little House up from Olympia due to a family emergency, Robert Miller from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson graciously stepped in and presented a detailed look at the 18,000 SF green roof of the new Ballard Library. I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all.


Micheal Lentz Joins the Crew


I'm very please to announce Micheal Lentz joined the crew here at Harrison Architects on May 8th.

Micheal comes to us from our friends and colleagues VELOCIPEDE architects, fellow travelers in green building circles. I've been mentoring Micheal in the Intern Development Program (IDP) over the last two years, and we've known each other since before he went to architecture school (about eight years now), when he was a craftsman/builder doing green work with Mason Huffine and on his own. In fact, in 2003 he built the FSC-plywood bookshelves, reclaimed wood partitions and desks in our office! (Mason and Micheal put in our cork floor before Mason left on his three-year 90,000 mile 'round the world motorcycle adventure.) We've talked on and off about his working for me for years, so it's great the timing was finally right for both of us.


Green Roofs in ASID Magazine


The Barbat-Harrison Green Roof Garage and Radke-Sproull Green Roof Workshop were both featured in the March issue of Dimensions, the magazine of the Washington State chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers,. The focus of the issue was green building.

Man Space: A Primal Guide to Marking Your Territory


The Barbat-Harrison Green Roof Garage will be published in a book titled Man Space: A Primal Guild to Marking Your Territory by Sam Martin, to be released in October 2006 by Taunton Press, the people who do Fine Homebuilding, with photos by Marco Prozzo.

Click here to go to the Amazon page on the book.

Barbat-Harrison Garage in Northwest Home + Garden


What with the green building focus of the March/April issue of Northwest Home + Garden we are especially happy that the Barbat-Harrison Garage also appears in the issue. Sarah Jio wrote the article, and Marco Prozzo took several of the photos. 

On the Jury: AIA Southwest Washington Honor Awards Program


Rob Harrison AIA will be one of three jurors for the Southwest Washington Component AIA Honor Awards.


The Honor Awards Program is scheduled for Wednesday, November 9 at the Pioneer Park Pavilion in Puyallup. Hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer will be served during the reception, which begins at 6:00 p.m. The program will commence at 6:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $25 for AIA members and $35 for non-members.

Earth Hero Awards Streaming Video


Streaming video of the Earth Hero Awards is online! Watch for an image of the green roof of the Sproull-Radke Garage/Workshop in the introduction....

Earth Hero Awards

Requires Real Player.

The Fab 50 Remodelers List


According to Northwest Home & Garden Magazine, we among the "fab 50 remodelers" in the Northwest. By the numbers I'd say about three quarters of our projects are renovations.

Northwest Home & Garden

The list appears in the September/October 2005 issue, on your newstands now. This list is alphabetical by the way!

Chiwawa Cabin on Treehugger.com!


Lloyd Alter blogged about our Chiwawa River Cabin on treehugger.com today, here:

Lyrical Sustainable Design - a cabin by Rob Harrison

I came across treehugger.com last week. The most clickable site I've come across in ages. Definitely worth a look, for both general inspiration and sourcing of green products and materials. Lloyd was in his last year in architecture school at the University of Toronto when I was in my first, and we hadn't crossed paths 'till the other day. He's designed a series of pre-fab modernist homes for a developer near Toronto:

The Royal Q Series

Nice work Lloyd, and thanks for the post on treehugger!

Chiwawa Cabin Featured in Northwest Home + Garden


The Chiwawa River Cabin, a compact three-bedroom two-bath retreat near Plain, WA is featured in the July 2005 issue of Northwest Home & Garden magazine, in "The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Homes." On your newstand now!

Originally uploaded by Rob Harrison.

Earth Hero Award for Sproull-Radke Workshop!


Originally uploaded by Rob Harrison.
Today the Sproull-Radke Green Roof Workshop/Garage was given an Earth Hero Award by King County, for being the first permitted residential vegetated roof in the County.
Here's a link to the press release: Green Building Open House
L to R: Susan Radke-Sproull-owner, Bill Kemble-president Local 54 Roofers & Waterproofers, Rob Harrison AIA-architect, Honorable Ron Sims-King County Executive, Jim Sproull-owner, Jon Alexander-contractor

Welcome to Lyrical Sustainable Design


After participating in several conversations on the Northwest Environment Watch blog (eg The Little Engine That Could), I thought it would be interesting to create one for my own firm, Robert Harrison Architects Incorporated. This blog will feature news about our projects, notices of employment opportunities, and (mostly?) general ranting and raving on the subject of residential green architecture and sustainable culture in the Pacific Northwest. I hope you enjoy it.

Rob Harrison, AIA