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Founded in 1978 by Patricia and John Patkau, our practice is dedicated to meaningful and sensible experience. We pay special attention to the discrete differences of a building’s circumstance and draw from these a unique material expression that is as durable as it is engaging and fit to purpose in every detail. 

How We Work

We began our practice with an outward perspective, looking for specificity in each project as a basis for design intent. We called this approach a search for found potential. Found potential may include aspects of site, program, cultural context, urban conditions, local climate, regional technology, or anything that describes the world into which a building must be fit.

Seeking found potential is not merely a method for stirring inspiration. It is also a counter stance to a trajectory in the built environment favoring the universal at the expense of the particular. A further consequence is that because our projects are fitted to circumstances, each has a unique formal vocabulary. We believe this an appropriate response to the diversity in which we live.

With time, we have come to recognize and appreciate the inward aspects of our practice. We understand that architectural form only arises with a synthetic act of imagination. This act of imagination may express cultural aspiration, environmental concern, technological enthusiasm, or many other ideals. The more inclusive the act of imagination, the richer the architecture.

As we have developed a body of work, the work itself becomes an undeniable context, suggesting alternatives and possibilities. Questions of craft become significant as we look at how things are made and reflect on how they are conceived and described. Craft for us is first an intellectual pursuit, a construction of ideas that undergirds a project. Craft is also aesthetic, a capacity for aligning cognitive and experiential sensibilities, and craft is a physical expression of how well ideas and aesthetics align with practical reality.

We work by taking each step deliberately and bringing our full scope of attention to each project. We are compelled by what we have done in the past, feeling a sense of responsibility to maintain a state of growth and transformation. This is partly what keeps us engaged, but is also what we have learned by committing ourselves to the found potential, the specificity of local circumstance. 

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