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Architect Spotlight – RHA

Courtyard-House-on-a-River-4-Photographer-Mark-Woods

Image courtesy of www.robhutcharch.com; photographer: Mark Woods

Where did Robert Hutchison’s love for wood design come from?

Well, it was a lifetime in the making, really. In fact, it all started on a family vacation during a tour of wooden stave churches in Norway’s’ Fjord region. He was only five or six at the time, but the wood’s depth, beauty and scent clearly made a lasting impression. Fast-forward a couple decades, and Hutchison is a young architect grad working at the Miller/Hull Partnership learning how to detail wood buildings. This led him to eventually launch his own firm: Robert Hutchison Architecture (RHA). Based in the capital of West Coast contemporary design (i.e. Seattle), RHA is surrounded by lush Pacific Northwest forest. So it’s no wonder that Hutchison has such an affinity for incorporating natural building materials into his work.

About the Studio

His highly collaborative four-person firm focuses on residential and smaller scale commercial work – and size doesn’t matter. Their portfolio includes everything from a tiny 100 sf.-garden shed to a 6,600 sf.-custom residence. They’re also well versed at projects with limited budgets. As such, Hutchison and Co. know the true value of Western Red Cedar’s versatility.

“It’s beautiful,” he says. “We can install it in many different profile types and orientations, it can be rough or smooth, knotty or clear, and it can be very economical.”

Cantilever-House-4-Photographer-Mark-Woods

Blending with Black

In terms of finish types, he and his design team have gravitated toward shades of black on many of their recent exterior jobs.

“What I appreciate most about it is that it actually tends to make the building recede into its surroundings,” he says, adding, “The translucent black stain still lets the color of the wood come through, and this ties in nicely to surrounding vegetation.”

Studio-for-an-Architect-Photographer-Alan-Abramowitz

Convincing the Client

That’s something some of his clients find hard to believe. The Courtyard House on a River client, for example, was highly suspect of black’s ability to blend.

“I finally convinced them to go for it,” recalls Hutchison. “And as soon as the first façade was completed, he immediately called me and left me a message saying, ‘oh my gosh, the building almost disappears into the forest!'”

Web-Photo-size

Making the Grade

As for how he chooses which grade of WRC siding to use and where, the RHA team factors in a lot of different variables before making the decision.

“We love working with both,” he says. “Sometimes we want something that is more refined, other times something that is rougher with more texture. It depends on the site, our clients, our budget, and if we are working with other materials on the project.”