written by:
July 13, 2011

One of the cool side effects of hiring a fantastic architecture firm is you get the expertise of not only the architect and project manager but the collective wisdom of the entire group. Olson Kundig has a special culture and part of that is the tradition of their Thursday Night Crits. Every Thursday at 5:00pm the office gets together to put the collective genius of the office to work on a particular project. As they explain on their website, "Over food and drink, a project is presented and discussed. The free flow of ideas consistently makes our projects better, and opens up lively discussions."

As our project transitioned from the schematic to design development phase, the office opened up their doors to me and the crew of the documentary to listen in on the critique of our project, Maxon House. This was the first opportunity for most of the firm to hear about our project and it was intriguing to hear the various ideas from everyone on ways to take the existing design and in many places make small tweaks or revisions to improve the end product. And, who can resist free beer and pizza!?

 

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 19: Maxon House Critique.

This is Olson Kundig Architects' office just minutes before the Thursday night critique. "The intent of these discussions is to make every project in our office the best it can be—to put the collective genius of the office to work," the firm's website sta
This is Olson Kundig Architects' office just minutes before the Thursday night critique. "The intent of these discussions is to make every project in our office the best it can be—to put the collective genius of the office to work," the firm's website states.
1 / 10
We met in one of the main meeting rooms for a lively and collaborative discussion around Maxon House. Tom Kundig opened up the critique with an introduction to our project and walked us through the initial schematic design while others chimed in with ques
We met in one of the main meeting rooms for a lively and collaborative discussion around Maxon House. Tom Kundig opened up the critique with an introduction to our project and walked us through the initial schematic design while others chimed in with questions and thoughts. I took refuge in the back of the room and listened in on the critique (I'm in the back, in the blue jacket). There was much lively discussion around the various kinetic aspects of our project, as well as construction methods, alternative material usage, and even solar power. There are some aspects of the project that are already locked in at this stage, but there is still plenty to be decided—so ideas that come up during this meeting can potentially find their way into the final design.
2 / 10
Tom Kundig (left) and Edward Lalonde (right) tag team on the project overview, pointing out various features of the project. At the beginning of the critique, Tom and Edward pose specific questions to the firm to help frame the entire discussion.
Tom Kundig (left) and Edward Lalonde (right) tag team on the project overview, pointing out various features of the project. At the beginning of the critique, Tom and Edward pose specific questions to the firm to help frame the entire discussion.
3 / 10
Les Eerkes, one of the firm's principals, weighs in with some thoughts and questions regarding the various kinetic features of the house. I found the critique to be extremely democratic; any member of the firm could pose questions and present ideas. It wa
Les Eerkes, one of the firm's principals, weighs in with some thoughts and questions regarding the various kinetic features of the house. I found the critique to be extremely democratic; any member of the firm could pose questions and present ideas. It was easy to see that everybody felt comfortable discussing concepts and there were no "bad" ideas.
4 / 10
The discussion gets lively as various members of the firm volley concepts around the room. One question that came up was how to create outdoor spaces; the current design didn't call for decks or terraces. Some positive ideas came from this portion of the
The discussion gets lively as various members of the firm volley concepts around the room. One question that came up was how to create outdoor spaces; the current design didn't call for decks or terraces. Some positive ideas came from this portion of the critique that we'd explore later on in the design development stage.
5 / 10
Here, Tom Kundig reviews the general layout of the house. Oversized plans are pinned on the wall so everyone can follow along, and even make notations right on the documents themselves.
Here, Tom Kundig reviews the general layout of the house. Oversized plans are pinned on the wall so everyone can follow along, and even make notations right on the documents themselves.
6 / 10
Tom Kundig gestures towards the private and public areas of the residence. To provide context, he walked the firm through the design of the house and the overall design concept and rationale. He spoke about how the house would address the slope and view t
Tom Kundig gestures towards the private and public areas of the residence. To provide context, he walked the firm through the design of the house and the overall design concept and rationale. He spoke about how the house would address the slope and view to the valley, and also talked a bit about our family and our need for open areas for entertaining and dining.
7 / 10
Phil Turner of <a href="http://www.turnerexhibits.com">Turner Exhibits</a> was invited to the critique to discuss <a href="http://www.dwell.com/slideshows/building-the-maxon-house-week-13.html">their involvement</a> and the engineering, physics and potent
Phil Turner of Turner Exhibits was invited to the critique to discuss their involvement and the engineering, physics and potential fabrication and construction methods that will be incorporated into a special part of the site plan.
8 / 10
A closeup detail of Tom Kundig's original conceptual sketch of the Maxon House residence.
A closeup detail of Tom Kundig's original conceptual sketch of the Maxon House residence.
9 / 10
As the formal presentation concluded, many of the members of the firm stuck around to ask further questions and get a closer look at the plans and schematic drawings. The firm also posts site photos and maps to provide context.<br /><br /><p><em><strong>D
As the formal presentation concluded, many of the members of the firm stuck around to ask further questions and get a closer look at the plans and schematic drawings. The firm also posts site photos and maps to provide context.

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

10 / 10
This is Olson Kundig Architects' office just minutes before the Thursday night critique. "The intent of these discussions is to make every project in our office the best it can be—to put the collective genius of the office to work," the firm's website sta
This is Olson Kundig Architects' office just minutes before the Thursday night critique. "The intent of these discussions is to make every project in our office the best it can be—to put the collective genius of the office to work," the firm's website states.

For previous installments of "Building the Maxon House," click here

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016
Industrial kitchen built on a budget.
In Austin, Texas, architect Sean Guess forges an inventive industrial kitchen for a cost-conscious couple.
May 18, 2016
great danes dining area
In an up-and-coming area of Copenhagen, a pair of designers and their twin girls inhabit a converted loft, filling it with serious design savvy and a hefty dose of creativity.
May 18, 2016
25687 preview low 1633 2 25687 sc v2com
An 1885 house in Montreal dips a little into its backyard for spare space.
May 17, 2016
modern ecoconscious pavilion walkway roof
A couple’s retirement home on a nature preserve in Carmel, California, emerges as a series of eco-conscious pavilions that rest lightly on the land.
May 17, 2016
Formafantasma's designs for Alcantara's Touching Tales
In a 17-century palazzo, two young design studios explore a very modern material.
May 17, 2016