The families in Roxbury Estates love their homes. The architects, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, had a very respectful vision for designing a low-income, culturally diverse community, and the accomplished that. They created a space that helps to maximize goodwill and encourages neighbors to be invested in each other's lives.
Working with Habitat for Humanity is a challenge, however, I believe it's a positive one. It forces an architect to design economically; to really think about materials that are as inexpensive as possible, but that are still durable and of quality. I believe that another positive challenge of working with nonprofits like ours is the connection with people whose lives are different. The work is to build for poor families, but the opportunity is to transform a life.
The quality of a home - the light, the spaces - can transform a family from a fearful, conflicted group of people where such a basic need is being met; where the design itself transforms grief into joy.
Executive DirectorHabitat for Humanity of Seattle / South King County
Our firm has always done volunteer work in Seattle, so when a young staff member brought us the project for Habitat's Roxbury Estates, it was an easy decision. Plus, this project was not just a house, but a small community. We wanted to see if we could push the design, make it a little more modern, a little more sustainable.
Because most of our work is high-end residential, involving more sophisticated materials and techniques, we welcomed the opportunity to reconnect with the fundamentals of construction. Working on Roxbury Estates, we learned a lot, for example, about making a satisfying composition from catalog windows.
Pro bono work reminds us that great design involves mastering constraints. We're much more agile designers for it, and that, ultimately, is the greatest benefit.
Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects