Olson Kundig is a full-service design firm whose work includes residences (often for art collectors), museums and exhibition design, hospitality projects, commercial design, academic buildings, interior design, visual identities, and places of worship.
The firm is led by five owners—Jim Olson, Tom Kundig, Kirsten R. Murray, Alan Maskin, and Kevin Kudo-King—who are supported by three principals, twenty one associates, and a staff of approximately 140 in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood of downtown Seattle. The firm opened a workspace in New York in 2014 to better serve its expanding roster of East Coast and international clients. The in-house interiors studio, founded in 2000, provides a full range of services, including material selection, custom furniture design, and purchasing capabilities.
The firm began its creative existence in 1966 with the architect Jim Olson, whose work at that time centered on explorations of the relationship between dwellings and the landscapes in which they inhabit. Olson started the firm based on the essential ideas that buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture, histories, and people, and that inspiring surroundings have a positive effect on people’s lives.
Responding to the beachfront environment of its headland site, the Bilgola Beach House is designed to withstand Australia’s dramatic climate conditions, where harsh sunlight, high winds and flooding are common.
This 500-square-foot cabin serves as a private writer’s retreat and guest cottage. The owners asked for a space that felt connected to its island setting—the mild climate, scenic views, and proximity to wildlife.
This 6,500-square-foot home, which sits on a quiet cul-de-sac in Ketchum, Idaho between Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain, was designed around the client’s collection of contemporary art alongside commanding mountain views.
The False Bay Residence is situated to maximize sweeping views of Haro Strait and the Olympic Mountains. A 15-foot-tall opaque entry door pivots open to reveal a view of the Sound through a double-height glazed living and dining space.
Located in one of Seattle’s most established residential areas, City Cabin’s design answers the client’s desire for a private urban retreat that would connect her to nature. Siting the 2,400-square-foot house on the northwest corner of the lot maximizes garden areas on the south and east sides.
The Trout Lake retreat contains four distinct buildings arranged in two groupings. The first grouping contains the main house, a woodworking shop, and a carport all contained under a single roof in a T-shape. A covered courtyard connects the three spaces in the middle of the “T”.
The owner’s affection for a stone outcropping on her property inspired the design of this refuge house. Conceived as a retreat nestled into the rock, the Pierre (the French word for stone) celebrates the materiality of the site.
The T-shaped form of Rimrock responds to the unique typography of the bluff upon which it is situated. Sited at the edge of a cliff, the house straddles two sides of wash atop a stable outcropping of tough, slow-cooled volcanic basalt.
Set in the Coast Mountains of western Canada, Whistler Ski Retreat is a family retreat built to withstand the harsh mountain environment. Elevated ten feet above grade, the main level provides a sense of occupying the tree canopy while also floating above snowdrifts and flood prone lake shore.
The main level of the Berkshire Retreat was raised about ten feet above the ground, partly to maximize the views, but also to get up above the humidity and insects in the summertime, and the snow in the winter.
Replacing a stark, all-white interior with a warm, wood-based palate proved to be a wise choice for the owners of this high-rise apartment. With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle, the unit’s new oak finishes offer a welcome contrast to the often gray and rainy panorama.
Architects: Olson Kundig Architects
Project: Sawmill Retreat
Location: Tehachapi, California, USA
Photography: Kevin Scott
Sawmill Retreat by Olson Kundig Architects is a winner in the 2017 AIA Housing...