Pro-File Design: Giulietti|Schouten Architects

When you think about Pacific Northwest Architecture, it’s the work of firms like Giulietti | Schouten Architects in Portland, Ore., that come to mind. Their 30-year practice has solidified their place in the residential fabric of the city and its surroundings, as demonstrated by their dominance in local awards programs and shelter magazine coverage. They are exemplary at what they do, but they are also emblematic of residential firms across the United States. From time to time, they’ll design a no-holds-barred coastal home, but their bread-and-butter commissions are houses for typical urban professionals. 

 Dave Giulietti, AIA

 Tim Schouten, AIA

Dave Giulietti, AIA, launched the firm in 1987 and spearheaded its dedication to residential work—new houses, remodels, and condo build-outs. Tim Schouten, AIA, joined in 1993 and was elevated to partner in 2001. Despite some ups and downs in the economy, the firm has remained admirably stable, maintaining a staff of 6-10 people along the way. “We did not feel the slowdown until about 2010,” Tim recalls. “And fortunately, we had a number of projects underway that carried us through.”

Nowadays, the firm is going gangbusters, and has developed a bit of a specialty in resuscitating the area’s midcentury houses into stylish, high-functioning dwellings. “The market has been very good for us, particularly in the last three years,” says Dave. “Each year has been our best year ever, and each year has beat the previous year. I don’t see it slowing down, but as a business owner, I’m always worried about it.”

Having survived slowdowns, however mild, has taught the firm the importance of keeping remodeling jobs in the mix of work—even smaller ones that some architects might spurn, especially when busy. “As long as we can give good design, we don’t mind doing smaller projects. We will still do a kitchen remodel or a bathroom,” says Dave. “There are always remodels, it seems. Even when the economy slows, we always tend to have work.” 

According to Tim, remodeling work has other virtues, as well. “Portland can be humbling sometimes,” he says. “It’s these smaller projects that help keep us grounded—we’re not in New York or a larger city. Our services need to appeal to everyone.”

Upward Battle

Remodeling instead of building new frequently has the edge in Portland for a variety of reasons. For one, the number of easy, buildable sites is dwindling. What’s left are the steep sites that are, perforce, more expensive to build on. Another is the cost of entitlements. “When we remodel a house, there are modest savings if we can reuse the foundation or some of the framing, but the big savings comes from System Development Charges [SDC],” Dave explains. “They can easily be $18,000 to $24,000 a house.”

“We had a $1 million project on an unimproved street, and the SDC wanted $365,000,” says Tim. “We had researched it early, but the amount was still a surprise. We had to fight it down to $93,000. If we had done a remodel, none of those fees would have been accessed. But because it was a tear-down, they applied.”

Says Dave, “They’ve adjusted it since, but that house still would have about $72,000 in fees.”

The fees are a sticker shock, for sure, but the other big challenge these days for the firm is the rising cost of construction. “Costs have escalated tremendously. And I’m starting to feel like it’s going to affect projects ahead,” says Dave. “We have plenty of people asking for design services, but the expectations about cost are unrealistic. We hear ‘Oh, my God’ a lot.”

So, Dave and Tim have gotten seriously proactive about communicating the tough news as early as possible. They don’t want to get caught in an endless cycle of design, bid, redesign, and rebid—with the consequent spiral of disappointment that accompanies such value engineering. “Before we even start designing, we break the news to clients. We want to do it before the contractor does,” says Dave. “We use an early cost estimate and calculate whole projects—fees, professional services, permits, site work, site development, site building. We never want to design a house they can’t build. Everyone needs to know up front if we have to reduce the program or increase the budget. And we ask them to bring the contractor in during design development. At the very earliest meetings, we’ll give them a square foot range based on images they bring in and the difficulty of their site. A typical range here might be $350 to $450 and, in some cases, $450 to $550.”

“We want that message out soon, because even recently we had a couple come in and ask us to design a 4,000-square-foot house for $700,000,” Tim adds. “Doing that preliminary cost assessment helps us reassess design requirements. Instead of an endless program of spaces and uses, what if we group that exercise room with an art studio? It does help pull in the reins on the wish lists.”

Glazed and Confused

Apart from permitting fees and program inflation, the other substantial cost center clients often don’t grasp is technological. The Portland area is blessed with gorgeous views, but also contends with a wet and windy climate. The former argues for lots of glazing, and the latter for a house built like a bunker. What’s more, it takes a house built like a bunker to secure all those wide, glazed openings that showcase the views. On the midcentury remodels, these upgrades present a special challenge. 

“We have an in-house list of improvements we know we’ll need to make on most remodels,” says Dave.  “We definitely anticipate, just by code, that on any project over a certain amount of work, we have to bring the whole house up to seismic levels. We know we will be re-insulating and installing new electric service and new plumbing. All those pieces tend to have to be done. With the midcentury houses, we’re usually faced with no insulation and moisture barriers at all. So the problem becomes how do you deal with that and keep the roof slim and trim?” 

Also on the list are spatial improvements. “Sometimes adding just 4 feet in the kitchen can make a world of difference,” says Tim. “The midcentury moderns here are mostly outside the central city, and therefore more affordable. So they’re attracting younger people who are willing to move farther out for better space. They’re attracted to the modern aesthetic, which is very popular out here, but also because these houses offer more flexible floor plans and better outdoor living opportunities than the small lots and vertical houses in the city. Still, we usually have to improve those indoor/outdoor connections. And we have to expand the kitchen and open it to the living and dining areas. The master usually needs some enlargement, as well. People don’t necessarily want bigger master bedrooms, they want bigger closets and a better, bigger master bath.” 

For the new construction work or the whole-house remodels, the firm battles the climate with rainscreen systems, high-tech insulation and moisture barriers, and as simple a roof structure as possible to fight water infiltration. They avoid skylights in favor of windows on vertical planes—clerestories, monitors, and, of course, walls. 

To capture those gorgeous views, they turn to steel moment frames or steel portal frames. “The moment frame is dictated by the wind speeds here. The wind load requirements are more stringent than those for earthquakes,” Tim explains. “We have 120-mile-an-hour winds on the coast. So uplift, and how that roof is connected all the way down to the foundation, are major considerations. We have to think about how we keep that roof from blowing off. If clients want big indoor/outdoor sliders, that calls for large overhangs. If they want that 24-foot slider, we have to prepare them for a $30,000 steel moment frame. Sometimes, we ask if they could make do with a 12-foot slider and fixed windows on either side.”

Clients used to be able to save money on HVAC equipment, given Portland’s formerly cool climate. But global warming means more strings of hot days, and most houses now need air conditioning in addition to heat. “We used to be able to install just radiant in-floor heat, which everyone loves, but now to cool the house we need to have heat pumps and ducts as well. So clients often elect to go with dual heat pumps and drop the radiant,” Dave notes.

These are just a few of the changes the firm has witnessed over decades in practice. The most substantial shift, however, is the booming taste for modernism. “We spent years remodeling the city’s old bungalow, craftsman, and Tudor-style houses, but now the work is predominantly modern,” says Dave. “We’re in a great period for modern architects. We’ve really come a long way.”—S. Claire Conroy


Giulietti | Schouten Architects

Portland, Ore.

[Project information provided by the architects] 

Myrtle Mid-Century

PROJECT DETAILS:

This 1957 mid-century modern house sits on a 1 acre lot in SW Portland with an incredible view looking east toward the river and SE Portland. The single bedroom main residence needed a more functional floor plan and revitalization. The site did not allow much space for a main level addition given the house’s location on a steep hillside, so 2 bedrooms were added via an upper level addition.

The existing home featured low and sleek rooflines with large, thin gables, making a second level addition a challenging design problem. Ultimately, the design retained the existing and characteristic roofs while forming a second-level addition into the existing volume. In discovering a tapered upper level floor plan, we were able to diminish the scale of the addition while pulling the exterior wall inward, centering the city views. The result is a large, modern dormer, with a low sweeping roof that opens up to an amazing view of Portland.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Todd Sprague
Team Members: Tim Schouten, AIA; Jake Weber, Assoc. AIA
Contractor: JD Hill Construction
Project Type: Remodel / Addition
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Building Size: 5,458 SF
Location: Portland, OR
Completion Date: 2015
Photography: David Papazian


Patton New Century

(In Construction)

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Withheld
Team Members: Tim Schouten, AIA; Jake Weber, AIA
Contractor: Don Tankersley & Co.
Engineer: Madden & Baughman Engineering
Interior Designer: Brandenburg Studios Design
Project Type: New Construction
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Location: Portland, OR
Status: In Construction


Ranger’s Ridge

PROJECT DETAILS:

Situated on the edge of a canyon overlooking the Deschutes River, the existing ranch house lacked personality, unlike its charismatic owners. Three modern additions redefine the structure and create a more functional plan for the retired ranch owners.  Doubling as a gallery, the new entry addition pierces the existing house and roof and emerges on the other side as a monitor, drawing in more light. Several level changes that segmented the existing living spaces were realigned to unify the kitchen, dining, and living areas, and with the help of a small addition, more useful space for entertaining was created. The master suite was also streamlined and expanded to make room for a fitness space previously located in the garage. Glass walls open up the south facade to allow light deep into the space while maximizing views of the canyon below, and a minimalist interior allows the couple’s extensive art collection to be showcased throughout the home. Dark vertical siding blends with the natural landscape while knotty, horizontal, cedar planks provide a bold but natural accent to the exterior façade.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Thom + Cyndie Bell
Team Members: Tim Schouten, AIA; Jake Weber, Assoc. AIA
Contractor: R&H Construction
Engineer: Madden & Baughman Engineering
Project Type: Remodel + Addition
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Building Size: 4,250SF
Location: Redmond, OR
Completion Date: 2017
Photography: David Papazian


WATER[SHED]

PROJECT DETAILS:

This mid-70’s house was featured in 2005 for Dwell and 2007 on the Street of Eames Tour.  An owner-architect designed the original 1100 SF house.  In keeping with the original spirit of the “house in the trees”, the new design adds an office, 2 bedrooms and expands the interior spaces while retaining its Northwest form.

Phase I: Whole-house renovation and 1150 SF addition in Balch Creek Watershed, Forest Park.

Phase II: Detached 260 SF art studio/ loft inserted in site to compliment main house and provide much needed work space and retreat for extended work sessions.

wa·ter·shed

  1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.
  2. an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.

This complete house renovation began by adding two new bedrooms, two shared offices and an expanded garage to the original L-shaped plan.  A second level MBR was added above the garage and offices to minimize the footprint and preserve space for a future artist studio.  The clients, both established graphic artists from southern California, were in search of a home they could both work endless hours together while home-schooling their teenage daughter.  Although they loved the original house with its simple saw-tooth roof forms, NW style and corner windows, it was more suited for a single bachelor than two work-at-home parents with a growing teen.

The preferred new design would need to bring the family together while providing privacy from the sleeping rooms and although the offices needed to be visible and functional as true work spaces, the clients did not want them to dominate the entire plan.  The resulting plan retains the Living/ Dining/ Kitchen configuration with their forest views while expanding the undersized MBR, Dining area and outdoor lounge.  The L-shape plan is further extended to the north, away from the Balch Creek Watershed with new offices and garage while the existing garage is converted into a new guest room and bath.  A new mudroom/ laundry area provides access to a private side yard serving as their dog Molly’s dog run, as well as access to a second-level secret retreat for reading and yoga.

A 260 SF studio was added shortly after the house was finished to provide a true retreat within earshot of the home and offices.  The concept was to keep the plan minimal in size but large and open from within.  It needed to function as a true ceramic studio with area to sculpt, fire and store ceramics as well as a clean space to rest, away from the kiln, with separate kitchenette and half bath.   A visual connection to the house and deck were also important.  The new design mimics the main house form and materials with matching shed roof, triangular clerestories and exterior materials.  The plan was kept simple with a central work area with storage and display aligned on the east wall and the kitchen/bath, loft bordering the west wall.  Full height glass at the north and south walls provide forest views and maximize daylight.   The studio also acts to provide privacy from the neighboring 3-level house to the east.

The design concept for both phases was to keep the simple dark shed forms and contrast the art-filled interior by maximizing daylight.  All roof and site storm water are gathered into a large central flow-through planter to offset drainage into Balch Creek.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Nate Grant + Marika van Adelsburg
Team Members: Tim Schouten, AIA; Jeff Guggenheim; Jenny Landwehr
Contractor: Metcalf Design & Construction
Landscape Design: Outdoor Scenery Design
Project Type: Remodel + Addition
Building Type: Single Family Residence + Art Studio
Building Size: 2,500 SF
Location: Portland, OR
Completion Date: 2012
Photography: Nate Grant


Road’s End Beach House

PROJECT DETAILS:

This beachfront property in Lincoln City, OR was the destination for a retiring couple. While still very active, the clients needed the house to be functional for their present and future lifestyle, allowing them to age in place. A master suite was designed on each level of the home in case the stairs ever became problematic.

The streamlined interior is modern and warm with wood accents throughout, including the central, floating oak-tread staircase threaded with stainless steel rods. With large expanses of glass facing the ocean, views of the beach and seascape can be enjoyed from multiple vantage points. A cantilevered deck juts out from the upper level of the home serving as an elevated lookout.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Phil + Mary Krueger
Team Members: Dave Giulietti, AIA; Jenny Landwehr
Contractor: Don Young & Associates
Project Type: New Construction
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Building Size: 2,600 SF 
Location: Lincoln City, OR
Completion Date: 2014
Photography: David Papazian


Valley Vista House

PROJECT DETAILS:

Relocating from Seattle, WA, our clients were looking for a change in architectural style from their previous craftsman home with a sizeable yard for gardening. A modern design with an open plan was desired, and an existing 2-story house in the hills of NW Portland was vetted for a potential renovation.

The existing main level was reorganized to accommodate an open plan, maximizing daylight and views, and the original enclosed stair was moved and replaced with an open tread design closer to the core of the home. The basement was updated with new finishes and a dark-room for the owner’s personal photography studio was carved out of an unused storage space. A partial third level was added above for a master suite and outdoor terrace while utilizing the existing footprint to limit site disturbance and preserve desired gardening space.

The poorly built, existing exterior cladding was replaced with a mix of warm cedar siding, patinaed metal panels, and distressed concrete accents designed to age more beautifully and maintain resiliency. A new entry stair supported by a custom-formed concrete wall welcomes guests, and an integrated stormwater planter slows and filters water run-off from the roof of the home.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Brian Gliniak + Cam D’Amico
Team Members: Dave Giulietti, AIA; Tony Hasenberg
Contractor: Don Young & Associates
Interior Designer: Poppi Hammer Interiors
Engineer: JG Pierson Structural Engineers
Project Type: Remodel + Addition
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Building Size: 4,118 SF
Location: Portland, OR
Completion Date: 2017
Photography: Sally Painter


Wildwood

PROJECT DETAILS:

Set on top of a forested ridge separating downtown Portland and the suburban sprawl of Beaverton, OR, Wildwood is a rural retreat and primary residence hidden within the metro area of the Pacific Northwest.

The clients, who work nearby, requested a modern home with simple, clean lines to fit within the heavily forested 1.2-acre site and to embrace outdoor living throughout the year.  They requested the home to be truly livable in the cool northwest climate with natural daylight and filtered views of the forest.

Access to the site is provided by shared private road down to a small clearing between the protected trees and habitat.

Wildwood is comprised of a long, single-loaded, open plan running north-south with living areas oriented west to the 35-acre forest reserve and open space. A two-story central hearth marks the divide between the large living room and the private master suite at the north.  A quiet study at the south acts as a separate retreat from the larger living area with select views to the forest.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Withheld
Team Members: Tim Schouten, AIA; Jake Weber, AIA; Lana Astrakhan
Contractor: WA Hughes Construction
Engineer: Madden & Baughman Engineering
Landscape: Dennis’ 7 Dees
Project Type: New Construction
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Building Size: 4,867 SF
Location: Portland, OR
Completion Date: 2018
Photography: David Papazian


Cliff House

PROJECT DETAILS:

Perched high above the Columbia River on a rocky bluff, Cliff House is a modern family retreat within minutes of the clients’ favorite playgrounds for windsurfing, skiing, or mountain biking.

A narrow, forested road ends at the wooded site where a steel bridge spans between tall firs and rock outcroppings to the main entry which provides a glimpse of Mt. Hood and the Gorge.

Inside the two-level home, expansive views of the mountain and gorge fill the upper level through 14-foot tall south-facing windows. A staggered open plan creates individual corner views of the Gorge at each of the living and bedroom spaces. Large roof overhangs and lower canopies at the entry and outdoor living areas were designed to provide shelter from the wet and windy Pacific Northwest climate.
An open stair leads to a quiet lower level office with direct access to a private terrace, and two guest bedrooms and a media room round out the rest of level.

A dark exterior palette of stained cedar, traditional stucco, and dark bronze windows were chosen to blend in with the forested site. Walnut wood was chosen for the casework to add warmth and contrast to the predominately white interior.

PROJECT INFO:

Client / Owner: Withheld
Team Members: Tim Schouten, AIA; Dave Giulietti, AIA; Jeff Guggenheim; Jenny Landwehr
Contractor: Don Young & Associates
Project Type: New Construction
Building Type: Single Family Residence
Building Size: 4,960 SF
Location: White Salmon, WA
Completion Date: 2017
Photography: David Papazian

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