SKl is a Seattle based team of architects, designers, and artists with a particular passion for adaptive re-use challenges. We work nationwide on a wide variety of projects, from residences to academic and cultural institutions, all with the guiding philosophy that buildings should give back more than they take: to the communities and clients that depend on them and the environment that sustains them.
We specialize in the careful crafting of visually rich and highly effective buildings and spaces for civic, academic, environmental, and residential use. Over the past 20 years, Rick Sundberg, one of the Northwest’s leading civic architects, with partners John Kennedy and Gladys Ly-Au Young, have worked to create projects that are loved by their users, critics, and the public alike. Together Rick, John, and Gladys have designed some of the city’s best-loved public places, including Chophouse Row, the Frye Art Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.
Architecture, for us, is a calling and a responsibility, guided by these simple tenets:
• Buildings should give back more than they take.
• It is our responsibility to support Civic Life* in our work
• Beauty is paramount, and includes invisible social and environmental threads below the surface.
• Collaboration between engaged owners, communities, and architects trumps lone genius every time (with the exception of Ronchamp, of course)
• Good buildings have a soul, which cannot be quantified, but you know it when you see it. This generally improves with age…
• William Strunk said “vigorous writing is concise”…so too with buildings
• It has been proven that humans need both daylight and connections to nature. Make it so.
• Climate Change is real, it is a crisis, and it is our job to fix it.
• A limited budget is a good thing- it requires us to spend money only on what truly matters, and edit the things that don’t (see Strunk Quote above)
*Civic Life: is the public life of the citizen concerned with the affairs of the community and nation as contrasted with private or personal life, which is devoted to the pursuit of private and personal interests.
The best idea wins.
Our mantra is “the best idea wins” and we depend on our clients and the community of stakeholders associated with each project to give us their ideas and opinions in an ongoing dialogue during the design process. Our design method is a collaborative, iterative process where we incorporate feedback at every level, so that the end scheme is one that reflects the needs and wants of every user.
Our firm adopts the 1+ Program’s challenge to pledge 1% or more of our firm’s working hours to pro bono service. The Sundberg Architectural Initiative (SAI) is a pro bono program within our office, whose mission is to provide architectural design services to under-served communities in order to achieve a positive and lasting social, environmental, and economic impact. Begun by Rick Sundberg, the Initiative collaborates with local community leaders, builders, and sustainability experts as an integral part of the design process, creating beautiful, functional, and resilient structures.
Our firm was founded 6 years ago over beers at none other than the Turf Tavern in Oxford, England (coincidentally the place where Bill Clinton famously “didn’t inhale”), by three colleagues with a shared vision of architecture’s role in civil society.