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The Best Custom Home Builders & Design-Build Firms in Portland

14 Min Read


Clients often select design-build firms when they want to simplify the process of hiring multiple parties, which can be not only time-consuming, but also risky in delivery schedules when construction and design phases overlap on projects. Thus, the single point of contact with design-build firms is appealing, since it minimizes risks for both the project owner and client. The following firms in the Portland area are doing an excellent job of keeping their clients happy, which would not be possible without outstanding in-house collaboration and communication. Although there are many reputable design-build firms throughout the Portland-metro area, the following 10 firms represent a versatile array of possible projects that always exceed standards in design, construction, and planning. And of course, because it’s Portland, many of them are beyond their years in building energy efficient projects.

Top Architects

Woofter Architecture

Miles Woofter

107 SE Washington Street, Portland, OR 97214

About Woofter Architecture

Based in Portland, Oregon, Woofter Architecture is a collaborative design practice that believes successful architecture necessitates an environmentally sound, place-based responsiveness to time and culture. They have received both merit and sustainability awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), along with numerous other awards in excellence, including some rather unique accolades such as the Institutional Wood Design Winner, 2013 WoodWorks National Wood Design Awards. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, Miles Woofter has practiced architecture for over 20 years, developing expertise in the design, documentation, and delivery of sustainable building projects, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Also with 20 years of experience, Jonathan Bolch is a registered architect in the state of Oregon. He also currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Architecture at Portland State University.

Featured Projects

The State Data Center is an energy-efficient, state-of-the-art facility for consolidated data processing operations for multiple state agencies. The project not only meets the State of Oregon LEED Silver equivalency, but it actually achieved energy savings at 20 percent better than the code required. The project design includes dalit open offices that can accommodate up to 60 state employees and can also boast of spacious, well-built conference facilities. The architecture was done as a collaborative project for this reliable facility and infrastructure, but the firm was boastfully able to use design-build methods to deliver the final outcome of this mission-critical facility all in just 13 months.

Skylab Architecture

Jeff Kovel
Brent Grubb

AIA Design Awards,
AIA Merit Awards,
AIA Honor Awards,
ASLA Merit Awards

413 SW 13th Avenue #200, Portland, OR 97205

About Skylab Architecture

Skylab Architecture was founded in 1999 and is a full-service and integrated interdisciplinary design studio. Their mission is to create meaningful, sustainable architectural experiences. Inspired by the human experience in various places, the firm investigates how to bring the best use of modern elements to people, place, and food. Jeff Kovel is the design principal. The other principal is Brent Grubb. The firm has won many awards from the Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association (OCAPA) and the AIA for design, honor, merit, and built citation. Their build design focuses on sustainability and the human experience.

Featured Projects

The Yard, although a great issue of controversy, is worth writing about. This tower is 21-stories of dark glass, a building that lives at the end of the Burnside Bridge along the Willamette River. Many Portlanders complain about how it has changed the skyline and produces too dark of a glare; then there are those who love it and live in it. No matter what team you’re on, nevertheless, it is certainly an eye catcher. The building responds to the sloping site and arterial infrastructure; it has an elevated podium eco-roof that engages the pedestrian platform on the Burnside Bridge. Yard was built in part of the Portland Development Commission’s Burnside Bridgehead Master Plan, an effort to revitalize entrepreneurial development in Portland, Oregon and alleviate the housing shortage.

Waechter Architecture

Ben Waechter

Architectural Record 10 Design Vanguard,
Residential Architect Design Award

3514 N Vancouver Avenue #300, Portland, OR 97227

About Waechter Architecture

Since establishing his own practice in 2007, Ben Waechter has won numerous local, national, and international design awards. He has been published in Urban Land Magazine, Architectural Record, New York Times, DWELL Magazine, Gray Magazine and Oregon Home Magazine. Waechter Architecture was listed as one of the 10 Design Vanguard winners by Architectural Record. Featuring 10 emerging architectural practices from all over the world, the annual showcase highlights those “at the forefront of design” and “demonstrating inventive approaches to shaping the built environment.” Waechter Architecture is a full-service architecture firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Despite the firm’s renowned inventiveness, they still do an excellent job of collaboratively working with their clients to maximize elegant solutions and address any specific functional needs. Their buildings projects center on simplicity and efficiency, yet remain distinguished and uniquely authentic.

Featured Projects

Known for designing and building some of Portland’s most “high-flying” architecture, Ben Waechter has been written up as “building with purely speculative hopes of finding a buyer.” Howard Roark, anyone? Let’s take a look at the Tower House: overlooking Northwest Portland’s industrial district, the Tower House is steeply grounded in its Willamette Heights site in a large stack of four floors (600 feet each). A dining room and kitchen, then living rooms on top of the bedrooms make this place quite a spectacle; but beware, you may have to be in shape to live here, for there is no elevator. The Tower House is accessed by a 24-foot-long bridge that extends up and off at the third floor. The exterior is considered somewhat austere, with bronze-colored and corrugated metal highlighting its vertical posture, but the corners are rounded to give it a delicate balance. On each stack/floor, there is a white deck for a bit of accent.

Garrison Hullinger

Garrison Hullinger

ASID Design Excellence Awards

506 SW 6th Avenue, Fifth Floor, Portland, OR 97204

About Garrison Hullinger

Garrison Hullinger Interior Design is another recipient of several Excellence awards. He works with residential interior architecture, including design, finish specification, presentations, and project management, while also doing full-service interior design. His work has been featured in print and digital magazines including The Wall Street Journal, Embark Magazine, Gray Magazine, Portrait of Portland, and more. Principal of the firm, he brings a thorough understanding of form, color, and construction to all of the firm’s work with clients.

Featured Projects

Built in a stylish suburb community just south of Portland, Lake Oswego is a perfect place for Garrison Hullinger’s 4200-square-foot, shingle-style home: the Berwick house. The clients who requested this design wanted a home that elicidted a Northwest lifestyle and that would also be bountiful in space and roominess for visiting guests to gather and stay. The project was semi-challenging due to the community’s numerous zoning and planning requirements, on top of keeping with the clients’ vision. However, GH created large and open-vaulted spaces on both the first and second floors, which made it possible to build and design spaciousness and beauty, all while aligning with the aesthetics of this upscale neighborhood. The exterior of the house is painted a soft and creamy wood color, with a white trim, which gives it a look of modern organization and cleanliness all while fitting into the natural landscape and inviting a warm and classical gaze.

LEVER Architecture

Thomas Robinson

4713 N Albina Avenue, Portland, OR 97217

About LEVER Architecture

LEVER is a design practice based out of Portland, Oregon, whose architecture includes a multitude of building projects for institutions, creative offices, retail, and multifamily housing. LEVER was founded in 2009 by Thomas Robinson, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from University of California, Berkeley, and then a Master of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He then led various institutional projects for Allied Works and Herzog & de Meuron. LEVER is known as a pioneer in the development of mass timber buildings in the United States.

Featured Projects

These guys get extra credit because they created the first building in the US made from domestically fabricated Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). Located in North Portland, Albina Yard is a 16k-square-foot office building considered to be the cutting edge of architecture. Albina Yard was designed by architect Thomas Robinson’s Portland-based firm Lever Architecture, the United States’ leader of CLT mass timber construction use. Albina Yard opened in September of 2016 and is the first office building in the US to utilize mass timber construction. Locally-manufactured and prefabricated in Oregon, the building’s glue-laminated timber frame and Douglas fir CLT panels makes the Albina Yard stand out all the more.

Hennebery Eddy Architects

Timothy R. Eddy
Stephen J. Hennebery (+)

AIA Design Awards,
AIA Merit Award,
AIA 2030 Challenge Design Award Single Family Residential Excellence,
DBIA Project/Team Award

921 SW Washington Street # 250, Portland, OR 97205

About Hennebery Eddy Architects

Established in 1992, the firm has flourished on the foundation cast by founding Principals Timothy R. Eddy and the late Stephen J. Henneberry, who sought to create a collaborative design firm of architects who share a passion for architecture and possess an interminable work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. The firm has grown over the years and now includes Principals Alan Osborne, David Wark, Michelle Vo, and Debbie Rogers. Young architects and designers look to Hennebery Eddy as providing the work ethic, entrepreneurism, and stewardship that the firm embodies. The firm provides services in architecture and planning, interior design, sustainable design, and historic renovations. Over the course of their history, they have received 56 awards for 28 projects, including a Fire Station 76, Merit Award from AIA Northwest and Pacific Region in 2016; and an Ash+Ash Residence, 2030 Challenge Design Award Single Family Residential Excellence by AIA Portland in 2014.

Featured Projects

It’s always fun to see what an architect designs for himself. The home of Timothy Eddy and his wife Joyce Bell proves just what one can do with contemporary sustainability technologies. Hosting a geothermal heat pump to rainwater-recovery system that flushes the toilets to the 10-kilowatt solar array, which then sells power back to PGE — this house is truly inventive. The house is built as a collection of large spaces, some of them outdoors, which give views that provide a 180-degree scope of the landscape. The interior has a floating stair and oak-paneled walls. The triple glazed east- and north-facing, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors are not only elegant but also energy efficient.


Jake Gundersen
Kris Wallace

3530 N Mississippi Avenue, Portland, OR

About Orange

Owners of Orange are Jake Gundersen and Kris Wallace. Orange does it all: large, small, residential, commercial, furniture, cabinetry, ornamental, structural, and maintenance. Orange describes itself as a design firm, a construction company, and a custom fabrication shop. They are licensed through the Oregon Construction Contractor’s Board, and to the foodies of Portland, they have a big role in making Portland known for having great and stylish restaurants and bars. This firm is not afraid to take risks, and their work epitomizes the old saying that “it’s often worth the risk.” They can handle a lot of different types of work from concept through completion. Orange takes pride in their flexibility, skills, and personality.

Featured Projects

One favorite project is Portland’s beloved Ava Gene’s off of trendy SE Division Street. Written up in Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurant Nominations, Ava Gene is described as a spot that reads nothing Italian, but instead, “the combination of exposed beams, marble countertops, an open kitchen, and comfortable low-slung banquettes gives it more of a neighborhood bistro vibe.” This could not better fit the Division area’s hip food scene, and Orange is to thank for that. Orange was also responsible for creating the magic look and feel behind the Italian bakery Roman Candle, which was designed and built in 2013. The back is where the production takes place, while the front has a gorgeous invitation to the eyes of visitors, featuring tile and Oregon Walnut wood.

Green Hammer

Stephen Aiguier

Erica Dunn
Jon Lundstrom
Laura Squillace
Meghan Wirtner

1323 SE 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214

About Green Hammer

Green Hammer is a design build firm and certified B-Corp based in Portland, Oregon. Green Hammer creates buildings that promote health and protect the planet. Founded in 2007, the firm’s multidisciplinary team of designers and construction experts are innovators and leaders in creating inspiring, zero energy homes and buildings that create long-term value and positive impact.

Featured Projects

Green Hammer’s deeply collaborative process results in spaces that engage and delight while evoking a deep connection to the natural world. Green Hammer’s passion for sustainability allows the company to deliver homes, buildings and communities of the highest craft, comfort and performance within the smallest of ecological footprints.

As a B Corp Best for the World Honoree and Real Leaders Award winner, Green Hammer believes business can be a force for good.

Ankrom Moisan Architects Inc.

Stewart Ankrom
Tom Moisan

Portland Sustainability at Work Gold Workplace Certification

6720 S.W. Macadam Avenue #100, Portland, OR 97219

About Ankrom Moisan Architects Inc.

A recent recipient of Portland Sustainability at Work Gold Workplace Certification, Ankrom Moisan is a national firm founded in 1983 and headquartered in Portland. The firm’s portfolio includes a wide array of award-winning, mixed-use student housing; affordable housing; workplace, hospitality, and healthcare projects; and senior living communities (like the Mirabella, which won the ULI Global Excellence Award). The firm has a mission for and emphasis on creating spaces where people and communities thrive.

Featured Projects

It might seem a bit much to gush about the firm’s own office in featured projects, but writers write great books about writing, so why wouldn’t an architect firm build itself a fantastic office? Ankrom Moison architectural and interior design firm moved its few hundred Portland employees into the ever airy, six-story headquarters, which sits mere steps from the downtown MAX station along the west bank of the Willamette River. The lobby and kitchen area leads into the living room and an all-staff conference room. But our favorite part is the cozy little nooks they designed for themselves for any improv last minute meetings that might need to happen here or there. And of course, almost all of the walls can be used as whiteboards for any ideas that might need visual markup right away.

Bora Architects

Amy Donohue
Christopher Linn
Michael Tingley
Stephen Weeks
John O’Toole
Jeanie Lai

AIA Northwest + Pacific Region Firm of the Year

720 S.W. Washington Street #800, Portland, Oregon 97205

About Bora Architects

Formerly named Boora Architects, Portland, Oregon’s architectural firm Bora Architects derived its name from the now-retired foundational partners Broome, Oringdulph, O’Toole, Rudolf, and Associates. Named AIA Northwest and Pacific Region’s 2016 firm of the year, Bora Architects is often praised for its consistency and dedication to community and work environment, and for pushing the boundaries of traditional architecture practice. Bora is known for its true expertise in creating cultural facilities, educational buildings, and workplace environments, with a specific emphasis on craft, beauty, and, of course, innovative functionality. Current firm principals include Amy Donohue, Christopher Linn, Michael Tingley, Stephen Weeks, John O’Toole, and Jeanie Lai.

Featured Projects

The Cosmopolitan Condominiums is the tallest residential building in Portland and is located in the heart of the city’s beloved and hip zone, the Pearl District. The building is situated on a fantastic site between two city parks. The project stands out from the rest of the other residential buildings in Portland, as it is a 28-story “point-tower.” In another recent project, Bora was able to show off their versatility, truly getting creative with the first phase of the newly envisioned Monsignor Tim Murphy Center at Central Catholic High School in SE Portland. There was nearly no space to expand upon, but with two stories above grade in addition to a basement level, the new building add-on enmeshes into the existing building. It creates an evolving loop around the ground level, which is then connected to a day-lit basement. Bora’s work in Portland Public Schools has also been featured in many articles that highlight noteworthy architecture in the local area.


  • Jake Gustafson

    Jake has served as Senior Editor at Portland Architects and brings a wealth of experience rooted in his passion for building. Holding a degree in Construction Engineering Management from Oregon State University, he actively engaged in industry-related activities, including membership in the Associated General Contractors of America student chapter and participation in the Associated Schools in Construction student competition. Previously, Jake served as a project engineer for a prominent general contractor in Portland, where he played a pivotal role in various aspects of construction projects, from pre-construction to subcontractor management. His expertise extends to working on innovative projects, such as North America's largest CLT commercial building. Expertise: Commercial Construction, Commercial Remodeling, Home Design and Build Key Highlights: Editor at Portland Architects, Project Engineer for Portland-based general contractor, Field Engineer for the largest CLT commercial building in North America Education: Oregon State University - Degree in Construction Engineering Management

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