West Coast High

Has it really been a decade since we opened in Oregon? No. Actually, it’s been 9 years. Summer, 2008 I landed out here after a few years of research and prep just in time for the roughest economic face plant many of us have known (and I’ve known 4 others in our 30 years).

I liken that whole beginning to parachuting out of an airplane amidst blue skies into a thick but fluffy-enough bunch of clouds. Once inside, there was some suggestive bumping about, some troublesome turbulence, but not a clear sign yet of what lay ahead. Then suddenly I break through those clouds and the scene below me opens like a battlefield movie: burning buildings, scorched earth, hungry villagers with widening eyes and the air full of acrid smoke. (Yes, yes I’m exaggerating for effect. There were no burning buildings.)

That was the starting of our west coast effort at the beginning of that darned big recession. In looking back, it might have been better to hang out on the beach for 4 or 5 years rather than make the effort we did to build our business in such a setting. But I am neither prescient nor idle, and so work we did.

…and we’ve made great progress, and well, we’re pretty glad we didn’t just hang out on the beach. I would have gone insane.

Sean seems to be our resident selfie expert. Here he captured himself along with a few of the rest of us west coasters: Darren, Richard La Trobe (artist and bridge maker), me, David, and Quinn.

Today we’ve grown to 25 coworkers in timber framing, carpentry, design, engineering, and millworks, and the buzz is on.

Here’s a quick picture of our year so far. Join us at an event if you can, or stop by our Shop in McMinnville or Studio in SE Portland.

  • Next week we’re in Nevada City, CA in the Sierra Nevadas.  If you haven’t visited THIS sweet small town, you might want to. Mike K is having us build on a site that, once again, is just stunning.
  • Right after that we’re in the Sierra’s again, this time further south near Fresno, where Tom and Karen have escaped the Bay Area to create a serious lodge suitable for hosting their whole extended family.

    Designs for Tom and Karen’s family lodge near Fresno include space for many.

  • Keith is a firefighter, coworker of a client in the midwest, and has worked for the last few years with us to get his home just right. In doing so, he’s become a friend and is coming out for a whole month to work in the shop with us to cut his frame and be part of our tribe. Can’t wait.
  • If we can ever get Brandy and Serena off their ocean-going boat, we’ll be building one of the most amazing projects we’ve yet designed, north of us in the lower Puget Sound.  (Just kidding here, everything is in perfect scheduling control…)

    Puget sound plans put timber to use in a contemporary style.

  • In mid-October we’ll be raising the brewery for the monks at the Mt. Angel Abbey. Actually, we will be HELPING raise it, as we designed the frame to go up in a community hand raising. Can’t you picture a bunch of strong monks, timber framers, community folks all lifting and pulling together? I can. Mt Angel, Oregon.  Mid to late October.

And on the boards.

  • We’re deep into Mike and Lindsay’s excellently modest footprint getaway just south of Cannon Beach on the coast. Mike’s a fireman too. What’s with THAT?
  • The oldest vineyard in the valley has us designing their new tasting room. And yes, we work for wine—particularly wine this good.
  • Kim and Stewart are downsizing on the California coast and we are working closely with them to design a contemporary take on a traditional farmhouse.

    Entering the schematic design phase, this front elevation gives mass and shape to plans for this CA home.

    The loose site plan for our upcoming CA project.

  • Martin has just begun his own retirement home on 5 acres in Elkton, Oregon. Still in preliminary stages, this promising project will draw inspiration from our recent NEW Jewel project.
  • Currently living in Minnesota, Peggy and Scott are returning to an Oregon and fulfilling their 12-year dream of building a home. As such, they want to take their time with the design phase so we are expecting a summer 2019 raising.
  • We’re finishing up a contemporary northwest design to compliment Mark and Julia’s stunning site which covers 3/4 of a mile on the Sandy River.
  • With a dream infill lot in the North Tabor neighborhood, right here in Portland, James and Sarah have enlisted us to join the design team. Looking forward to a collaborative design process with the clients and the design architect.

Likely there’s more but mostly I want to share how far we’ve come, how good this feels, and the fun we’re having. Thanks, as always, for being with us on this crazy ride.

Carpe Diem indeed, Darren!

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