Make sure our clients love us when the project is over. It’s amazing how easy our business decisions are when this is our primary goal.
Give clients all the information they need to make good decisions. We’re not always certain what you should do, but we want to make sure that when you have to make decisions, we’ve given you all the information you need. We don’t think most architects know how to do this.
Play Nice. Treat our employees well. Pick up after ourselves. Leave things better than we found them. Be grateful, compassionate, and gracious. When we have a great idea that would help others, share it freely. Help everyone get to the best idea.
Ask for Help. Nothing we’ve ever done well was done alone. Collaborate and seek the input of others.
Evolve. History offers lessons and can inform. But the solutions to TODAY’s problems are in front of us to discover, not behind us to nostalgically relive. By all means, make beautiful trees, just be aware of the forest while you’re doing so; make sure we raise our heads, find the horizon, and remember why our work is important and what we’re trying to accomplish.
“It’s not about the world of design. It’s about the design of the world.” Bruce Mau Look for the design project in everything we do. Everything is design. Design can make everything better: a detail, a piece of furniture, a room, a building, a block, a neighborhood, a city, a world.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
We recognize the power we carry as designers of public and private spaces, and treat it as a privilege and responsibility. We acknowledge the profound lack of racial and gender diversity in our industry, and name the structural barriers that created and maintain those dynamics. We are learning how to work against the status quo; how to recruit and retain a diverse team—internally and externally—because a diverse work environment, client base, and roster of contractors is both desirable and beneficial to our work. Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to creating spaces that are welcoming and accessible to all members of our community. As such, we are committed to:
- Ongoing learning with each other and our community that pushes our thinking; challenges our biases, assumptions, and preferences; and develops our critical lens for equity.
- Combatting the lack of racial and gender diversity in our industry by prioritizing those who have been historically underrepresented in our recruitment and hiring practices.
- Pursuing projects and partnerships that elevate the voices, perspectives, and priorities of communities that are marginalized by systems that maintain the status quo.
We began the studio on June 1, 2004. Working at first in our respective homes, downtown Durham was our conference room. We met frequently on the back porch at what was then Fowler’s (in the Brightleaf area) or in a bright corner at downtown’s old Blue Coffee Cafe (now Neomonde).
Within a year, we were able to rent a small, two-room office in the amazing Mutual Community Savings Bank building (now the Durham Hotel). We still didn’t have a conference room, so the meetings at Blue Coffee and Fowler’s continued. And when we had a good month, we’d treat ourselves to lunch at Rue Cler.
In 2006 we hired our first employee, Will Rhodenhiser, and moved into a historic storefront in Five Points, and continued to grow the firm.
In 2012 we moved into our own building as part of the Five Points Project, developed by our sister development company, ReVamp Durham.
Today we have ten studio members.
David Arneson – Architect, Partner
Scott Harmon – Architect, Partner
Will Rhodenhiser – Architect, Partner
Dawn Bland – Office Madam
Nilam Patel – Architectural Designer
Kathryn Yaeger – Designer
Cassie Smith – Designer
Liz Wedge, Architect
Brigitta Mills, Designer
Miguel Castellanos, Designer