Santa Barbara Architects specializing in Fine Residential & Commercial Architecture
OUR PROJECT TYPES & AREAS OF EXPERTISE
We have been fortunate enough to practice as Santa Barbara architects for many years and have been able to work with many clients in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, & Northern California to design a variety of exclusive custom homes.
These projects have included hillside homes, beach houses and multi-million dollar renovations.
The beach houses are typically challenging due to lot constraints and Fema requirements but offer unique opportunities for creative problem solving.
These types of projects can also be challenging to get through the design approval process since they typically require the approval of multiple parties such as design review boards & Homeowner Associations. We have worked closely with some of the best contractors specializing in beach home construction along the west coast & can provide experienced teams of professionals & contractors capable of the successful execution of this type of project.
Commercial Architecure projects offer their own unique opportunities and challenges. On a recent project in northern california for example, which began as a moderate addition to a family owned market, quickly evolved into a multi year design process resulting from it’s prime location in a redevelopment zone and on a state highway. The lot was further constrained by a stream and every type of easement imaginable. Navigating the regulatory environment on this project has been challenging but in the end has produced a beautiful design that has the support of the entire community. The building is a traditional spanish market owned by a mexican imigrant family and will be one of the best examples of spanish colonial architecture in the area. Much of commercial development is bottom line driven, but particularly along the California coastal communities, good design is being demanded by both the public & regulators. We approach commercial projects in the same way as any other project, with the intent to create a well designed project within the constraints of the project budget but without sacrificing quality.
We have been involved in a number of k-12 facilities including all these building types in northern california and are adept at walking projects through the DSA approval process.
The Department of the State Architect review of fire life safety, structure, accessibility and sustainablility issues is thorough and detailed, requiring a high level of knowledge of the state building codes and DSA requirements during the creation of design and construction documents.
We have developed the design and consulting expertise necessary to successfully execute a variety of educational building types.
“A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable..” ― Louis kahn
Design begins with an intention, an idea, a desire to create, or to solve a problem, for a specific client, for a specific site. A well conceived and elegantly executed solution to a design problem will often appear obvious, even simple, but this apparent simplicity often masks a complex and sophisticated process of exploration & synthesis necessary to first understand the problem and then tease out it’s essence so that a solution can emerge. We approach each project with a blank slate, without preconceptions and work closely with the client to discover what the project is “about”, to find a begining point, an idea to be expressed.
“Architecture begins where engineering ends.” – Walter Gropius
Our obligation as architects is more than simply achieving the goals established in the program. That can be accomplished easily enough . As modern architects, the need to explore new technologies, construction techniques & materials is in our DNA and we will take every opportunity to apply them when appropriate. Sustainability, beyond just a marketing ploy, should be incorporated into projects as a matter of course, this is simply good design practice. However, if the best we have to offer is fine technical execution alone, then we may well have abdicated our primary responsibiiltiy as Architect.
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When you leave Wrights Fallingwater, or Kahn’s National Assembly Building in Bangladesh, can you say that you are not somehow changed forever? If we can create works that even to a small degree impart these intangible qualities to our work, through the artful use of space,form & light and an uncommon attention to detail, then we will we have fulfilled our obligation to our clients and to our profession as well.
Initial Meeting with the Architect
Designing & constructing a building can be an exciting and rewarding process for both the owner & the Architect. It can also be time consuming and complex with many unexpected twists and turns in the road to completion. This initial meeting will allow the architect to understand your goals for the project and assess whether he feels he can provide the services you require in the timeframe you have in mind. It will also give you an opportunity to get to know the architect’s personality and way of working. Design and construction of a typical custom single family home tends to be around 18 months to 2 years. Like any long term relationship, you want to make sure you & your partner are compatible and that you have realistic expectations.
Contract for Design Services
The state of California requires an Architect to execute a written agreement for design services prior to starting any work. The contract is designed to clarify exactly what services will be provided, what the scope of work includes, what each partys responsibilities are, and what the compensation will be. The Architect will typically provide a standard form for the contract. You may want to have your attorney review the document before signing it.
Once a contract is in place, formal work on the project can begin. The American Institue of Architects defines Architectural Programming as follows “Architectural programming is the thorough and systematic evaluation of the interrelated values, goals, facts, and needs of a client’s organization, facility users, and the surrounding community “ . The product of this process is a written document that outlines the owners goals for the project and gathers as much information as is known about the project. The information in this document will be synthesised into a “design concept” that the will guide the Architects design process. The program may be a single page document or a large complex program depending on the scale of the project.
Zoning Ordinance Review
Zoning Ordinances establish building heights, setbacks, allowed uses and many other constraints that can have significant impacts on what can be built on a given parcel. It is important to know these constraints up front. For this reason we will typically attempt to identify all local and state agencies that may be involved in the project and asses what impact they may have on the project & process. This may include local Architecural historians, planning staff, as well as various state agencies and entities. Note that typical projects may only involve planning department review but the involvement of any of these agencies can have both design and fiscal impacts on the project and should be brought to the owners attention as early as possible.
There are many forces acting on the development of a design, from characteristics of the site, to zoning constraints, to a clients desire for the building to be “like” this or that, or have a specific organizational scheme. At this stage the Architect works with the client to synthesize all the information assembled in the program into an idea or statement or diagram that will help provide a direction or framework for developing the design. Sketches and/or 3d massing models may be developed at this stage to document the design concept and form the basis for further development.
Building Code Analysis
Depending on the type and complexity of the building a preliminary building code analysis may be performed at this stage to identify requirements that could affect the design or overall organization. This will typically include meetings with building department officials and complexity requires it, may include specialized consultants as well.
Concept drawings will now be further developed and refined into formal plans, sections elevations, 3 computer dimensional models & where appropriate physical models. Specialized consultants will typically be involved at this stage including Civil,Structural, Mechanical & Electrical engineers at a minimum.
The type of structural, mechanical & electrical systems will be determined at this time in order to refine the design as these elements can have major impacts on the form & organization of the building. Additional specializations may include lighting designers, energy consultants, environmental consultants & others as the need arises.
Where possible we prefer to involve consulting professionals early in the process as to help identify problems or opportunities relating to their area of expertise. We have developed relationships over the years with a variety of highly competent consulting professionals that we can recommend. Preliminary design documents along with a preliminary construction cost estimate will be prepared and presented to the owner for review and approval.
Design Review Submittal
Upon the owners acceptance of the preliminary design the Architect will prepare drawings & documents for submittal to the various agencies including Architectural Design Review Boards and other entities necessary for planning approval. The design review process can be lengthy & require a number of revisions & re-submittals before approval is granted, particularly where there are homeowner associations & design review boards involved. We will submit the drawings for review and present the project to the various entities for approval. In more complex projects we may employ planning consultants to aid in these submittals, particularly in the case of multi family developments requiring complex document preparation & submittals to various local and state entities.
Typically, construction documents will start once the design has been approved by planning. In cases where we have a high degree of certainty that the design will be approved or the owner is willing to proceed at-risk due to his schedule we may prepare the construction documents concurrently with the design review process, however, this is not typically recomended. In this phase we will coordinate with the various consultants to produce a coordinated construction documents package for submittal to the building department for approval.
Our design and construction documents are prepared in an integrated 3-dimensional modelling system known generically as “Building Information Modelling” or by its acronym “BIM”, the system we use is “REVIT” and is the leading BIM system on the market. This is a relatively new technology that is quickly replacing 2 dimensinal CAD drawing, which is little more than an electronic pencil & a calculator. With BIM we create an integrated “parametric model” of the building.
This includes both a geometric model & a data model that includes all information that defines the building. This model contains what is known as “bi-directional associativity”. This means that all the data is connected in such a way that a change in one part of the model is automatically reflected in every other related part of the model.
All drawings are a “view” of the model, and if a change is made in one drawing it is instantly reflected in all other drawings and in the model. This offers a number of efficiencies & guarantees a well coordinated set of construction documents with minimal errors. This translates into fewer problems on the construction site and fewer cost over runs.
When the construction documents are completed they will be submitted to the building department & related agencies for approval.
At this stage we will typically assist the owner in preparing bid documents including bid forms, drawings & specifications & form of construction contract. We will assist the owner in reviewing the bids and the contractors qualifications.
Construction Contract Administration
Typical duties performed by the architect during constructioninclude visiting the site on a regular basis to observe the progress of construction & determine that the work is in general conformance with the construction documents & prepare regular reports documenting our observations at the job site. Throughout construction we will answer all Requests for Information by the contractor & document change orders that may occur. We will also review the contractors requests for payment to assure that the work has been completed prior to issuance to the owner for payment and will obtain sub contractor lein releases as required.
Selecting an Architect:
Their are many competent Santa barbara architects, most with their own areas of expertise and design sensibilities. Over the years Santa Barbara has evolved it’s own version of Spanish Mediteranian Architecture. The city of Santa Barbara has gone to great lengths to protect this Architectural heritage.
Yet there have also been a number of other styles, popular at various stages in the cities history, such as the large number of California bungalos for example and more recent modern interpretations of local vernacular architecture. But the Architects in Santa Barbara, like the architecture itself, are diverse. When interviewing santa barbara architects it is particlularly important to find one with experience in the type of project you want to build.
For many clients, building a home for example, is a very personal experience, and for this reason it is equally important to select someone you feel will be sympathetic to your goals for the project and will be able to realize “your” vision of the project.
Building projects can drag on for extended periods of time. It is critical as well that the architect you select is someone you will be comfortable working with over a long period of time. You can check with the Local American Institute of Architects for architects in santa barbara county.
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