Everyone is moving to Portland, which means everyone needs somewhere to live. Portlanders not only value innovative design and functionality in their homes, but also energy efficiency and the preservation of historic aesthetic, all while remaining modern. This requires some darn good residential architects. The following list of firms does a good job of working with the Portland landscape when it comes to homes; this means incorporating the view of the city’s forested landscape and taking into consideration interior lighting in such a cloudy climate. The following architects have put Portland on the map have stood out to leaders and writers in the industry.
This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
AIA Citation Awards
310 SW 4th Avenue #810, Portland, OR 97204
About Dao Architecture
Dao Architectures integrates interior, landscape, urban, and architectural design to create contemporary spaces that rely on research, innovation, and technical and design knowledge. Consultants, clients, contractors, and fabricators are all an integral part of DAO’s process of forming beautiful and functional spatial concepts. The principals of the firm are Joanne Le and David Horsley, who have nearly 50 years of combined experience. Prior to founding their own firm in 2004, the two have worked for some of the West Coast’s most distinguished architectural firms. Dao is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise, a Women Business Enterprise, and an Emerging Small Business as well as a member of the US Green Building Council. They have been the recipient of numerous awards, such as the AIA Portland Homes Tour, The Modern Homes Tour, and the Portland Month Design Annual.
Dao created a compact dwelling in the historic Irvington neighborhood—a two-story house that can comfortably host a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, powder room, two bedrooms, and several storage areas, along with a ground floor patio and upper deck. All this, and yet the structure is only 13 feet wide and 950 square feet in total. Dao was able to work within the confines of the narrow site and the zoning regulations to strategically create an efficient and simple project that maximizes views, light, and beautiful interiors with large windows, floor openings, and large central skylights. This creates a spacious feel while retaining privacy with patterned glass. This was all accomplished with a low-cost value by utilizing sustainable features that are elegant and unobstructed. The residence was included in the “Houses That Matter” article in Portland Monthly Design Annual and featured in both the Modern Homes tour and the AIA Portland Homes tours.
Fieldwork Design and Architecture
AIA Design Awards,
IIDA Design Excellence Awards
601 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR 97214
About Fieldwork Design and Architecture
Architects Cornell Anderson and Timothy Fouch and interior designer Tonia Hein founded Fieldwork Design in 2011. The firm is based in Portland and consists of an architectural team, a furniture and crafting team, and a hands-on design and build team. Their work is innovative, forward-thinking, and always remains connected to the natural environment, no matter the scope of the project. Sustainable and local materials are consistently used to enhance natural views and landscapes. Natural ventilation and lighting are also key components of their sensitive and memorable work.
The Kerns Micro House is one of Fieldwork’s most innovative projects, a well-decorated residence that earned the Mayor’s Honorable Mention in the 2016 AIA Design Awards and the Design Excellence Awards Best of Residential award from the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Made to meet the City of Portland’s strict standards in design without losing an individual personality, this accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is truly one of a kind. Its style is minimalist, modern, and shows off custom-made, white oak cabinetry from Oregon, which was fabricated by Fieldwork. The space takes advantage of natural light to give it an airy spaciousness, which is augmented by the flexibility of the custom-made Murphy Bed and storage unit. Every single piece of furniture and cabinetry, interior design, and architecture was done by the Fieldwork team. They did an excellent job of matching the unit’s sustainable build with the environment. Another amazing project by Fieldwork Design is the West Hills Residence, which won the 2014 IIDA Design Excellence Awards “Best of Residential” award and IIDA Design Excellence Awards “GRAY’s Choice Award” from GRAY Magazine. As its title suggests, the residence sits in the West Hills above Portland’s downtown and consists of a complete renovation and transformation of an existing indoor swimming pool and unfinished basement utility and storage area, which was converted into a modern and exquisite glass-doored wine cellar. This project infuses modernity with the natural forest, which gives the house a restorative aesthetic and a therapeutic atmosphere.
Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio
915 NW 19th Avenue, Studio C, Portland, OR 97209
About Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio
Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio operates on the foundation of great architecture, standout interior design, and excellent service. The studio has been recognized through numerous design awards and publications. Jenny and Jeff Guggenheim serve as the firm’s principal designer/design director and principal architect, respectively. The studio’s portfolio of projects covers properties throughout the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. These design projects include work in residential, medical, hospitality, and retail sectors as well as select exhibition work. Guggenheim is licenced to practice architecture in the States of Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii.
The Wriff Residence featured is a project designed by Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio. Completed in 2019, the Portland two-story home is built into a hillside overlooking the Willamette River. Taking aesthetic cues from a Northwest Modern styles, the exterior reflects a classic mid-century aesthetic synonymous with the region, infused with modern elements to match the current landscape’s stylish flair. The property features a metal and wood make-up and an asymmetric build and includes a second-level terrace, a car garage, tall glass windows, and a shed and metal roof. A striking palette of black and natural wood tones give the house a sophisticated yet inviting charm.
107 SE Washington Street, Suite 740, Portland, OR 97214
About Harka Architecture
Low-carbon architecture is the driving force of Harka Architecture, one of Portland’s most prominent green-based design firms. Smart and convenient living is a trademark of the studio with its inspired designs that promote modern and responsible living. It is led by principal architect Patrick Donaldson, who is a LEED AP, Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC), and Construction Engineering Management (CEM) certified expert. A registered architect in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, Donaldson and his team specializes in using non-toxic materials to produce environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient structures. The industry stalwart carries vast expertise in numerous markets including single and multi-family homes, restaurants, retail establishments, historical theaters, and emergency response facilities.
The featured estate is the Montavilla Residences, a Harka Architecture project completed in 2019. The shared residential site includes three lots, each one filled with a single-family dwelling and an ADU. Every home displays a contemporary charm with a sleek minimalist design that’s both stylish and functional. The exterior building layout features a shared courtyard that provides a communal space and a semi-private and private outdoor area for its inhabitants. A common element for the residential units is a private second-story balcony connected to the common yard. A vegetable garden and a play area are also designed for recreational use. To the north of the property’s garages is a parking space reserved for the homeowners.
Hennebery Eddy Architects
Timothy R. Eddy
Stephen J. Hennebery (+)
AIA Design Awards,
AIA Merit Award,
DBIA Project/Team Award
921 SW Washington Street # 250, Portland, OR 97205
About Hennebery Eddy Architects
Hennebery Eddy Architects was founded in 1992 by Principals Timothy R. Eddy and Stephen J. Hennebery. The firm has grown over the years and currently includes Alan Osborne, David Wark, Michelle Vo, and Debbie Rogers among its board of principals. Young architects and designers look to Hennebery Eddy as an ideal firm that embodies work ethic, entrepreneurship, and stewardship. The firm provides services in architecture and planning, interior design, sustainable design, and historic renovations. Over the course of its history, the practice has received 56 awards for 28 projects, including a Merit Award from AIA Northwest and Pacific Region in 2016 and a Challenge Design Award for Single Family Residential Excellence by AIA Portland in 2014.
The home of Timothy Eddy and his wife Joyce Bell proves what one can do with contemporary sustainability technology. The innovative house features a geothermal heat pump and a rainwater recovery system that flushes the toilets to the 10-kilowatt solar array, which then sells power back to PGE. The house is built as a collection of large spaces, with outdoor areas that provide a 180-degree scope of the landscape. The interior has a floating stair and oak-paneled walls, and triple-glazed, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors add an elegant and energy-efficient element to the property.
Jeffrey Miller Architect
Exterior and Interior NW Wall & Ceiling Bureau Outstanding Project of the Year Award
834 SW St Clair Avenue, Suite 202, Portland, OR 97205
About Jeffrey Miller Architect
The recipient of numerous awards and publication features for his noteworthy projects, Jeffrey Miller is a Portland native who holds degrees from both Boston University and the University of Washington. He has also studied architecture and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His firm has completed over 500 residential projects throughout the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. He does both new house design and remodeling work, the latter of which often necessitates historic restoration, which is a signature service of his firm. The firm is known for graphically translating and finding solutions to client questions in order to fit a family’s needs and lifestyles. Miller’s Smith Residence won both the Exterior and Interior NW Wall & Ceiling Bureau Outstanding Project of the Year Award.
Jeffrey Miller’s projects are not like those of the many designers who collage different historical motifs into a conglomerate of confusing glue. Instead, his work is always extremely informed by the past while steering clear of trends. A perfect example of this is the Stafford Hills Ranch. In the country house made for Greg and Penny Popma, Miller took influence from the English architect Edwin Lutyens sans the French-like stone facade. The interiors of the dwelling are an 8,000 square feet pivot off a one-and-a-half-story solar, which works well with the cloudy climate of Portland. The ceilings are vaulted trusses built from beams of an old Pennsylvania barn. The stone facade was purposefully chosen in order to work well with light and avoid gray. Miller used Olympia basalt, which glows a kind yellow hue when the light hits at the right angle.
Olson Kundig Architects
AIA Honor Awards
159 S Jackson Street #600, Seattle, WA 98104
About Olson Kundig Architects
Tom Kundig’s firm is located in Seattle, Washington, but it has completed many impressive projects in Portland. He has won a variety of distinguished awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and The Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. The firm is led by five owners who do a variety of work across the world, including homes (often for art collectors), cultural and civic projects, museums and exhibition designs, creative production, and places of worship. Their design practice is grounded in the idea that buildings serve as a bridge between people and nature and are meant to positively inspire lives.
The Portland Heights house was made for clients who were founders of the local jewelry store Twist. Design entrepreneurs Paul Schneider and Lauren Eulau successfully translate envisioned beauty, which shines in the two-story house’s long and stout structure. The width never exceeds that of one room, the living and entertainment rooms sit on top of the bedrooms, and the library has floor-to-ceiling glass, which also spreads across the back elevator. The otherwise quite rectilinear design of the house is broken with the master suite, which sits aloft the trees in a column that faces west, overlooking the Coastal Range and the Tualatin Valley. Olson Kundig has also made some pretty spectacular vacation homes for Portlanders who want a getaway to a second home a little outside the city. Take the Glass Farmhouse in Northeast Oregon, for example. The clients, inspired by Philip Johnson’s Glass House, wanted a place that opened to the prairie and mountains. Three sides of the house have high-efficiency, glass-framed walls with steel, while the north side of the house is a solid exterior wall. The house itself sits on a concrete slab, which is further supported by a concrete foundation. Heat-absorbing and releasing thermal mass also exists in separate isolation from the ground plane. Inside the magnificently modern and transparent house are large spaces for eating, living, and sleeping, as well as other enclosed rooms such as a bathroom, study, and storage area.
Portland, OR 97213
About PDX Living
Dedicated to designing and building energy-efficient homes that are both comfortable and healthy, PDX Living is a company one can trust to build a modern Portland home. The firm is award-winning in its construction and design due to the fact that they look to the future in order to build today’s best buildings. They always strive to create projects that use as little energy as possible and that will remain durable and beautiful throughout the years. Another winning factor is that they strive to make their projects low-cost despite being high-performance-driven.
Architect Rob Hawthorne and builder Bart Berquist succeed in creating homes that can produce as much electricity as they use, all at a reasonable mid-range price. The CoreHaus was the first residence in Portland to earn Passive House certification, a system that started in Germany that is extremely efficient and airtight. Another project, the CH2 House, is a net-zero energy home with a welcoming and modern exterior. This 1,670 square foot house has three bedrooms and two baths, designed with top-notch quality. Materials used to build the house include quartz countertops, cork and exposed concrete floors, translucent glass cabinets, an oversized soaking tub, and European tilt-and-turn triple-glazed windows. Design benefits include comfort, durability, savings, and air quality as well as airtight construction, heat recovery ventilation, and efficient custom doors with vacuum insulated panels (VIP).
Bing Sheldon (+)
AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Project
338 NW 5th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209
About SERA Architects
After hearing from a former classmate that Portland was a city with a rich history and a promising future, Bing Sheldon moved his family from Denmark to the Pacific Northwest. Sheldon apparently always intended to begin an architecture company of his own. When he first moved to Portland, he worked at two architecture firms before partnering with a colleague to create a new design firm in 1968, which eventually became SERA. The recipients of several AIA awards in several categories, like the AIA National’s highest sustainability award or featured in the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Project, SERA has become recognized for their well-deserved accolades in innovation, collaboration, and excellent sustainability practices. Current principals include Joe Pinzone, Stuart Colby, Lisa Zangerle, Tim Smith, Natasha Koiv, Kurt Schultz, and Clark Brockman.
Adjacent to an already existing single-family residence belonging to Linda Rose and Eldon Haines (well-known solar-pioneer and creator of the Copper-Cricket Solar Thermal Water Heater), SERA’s innovative project, the Rose House, is an 800-square-foot ADU (accessory dwelling unit). In line with the core values of the clients, the project’s aim was to create a residence that could annually generate more electricity through solar photovoltaic panels than it actually used. SERA used Natural Step principles to design the residence, and it is one of two Oregon Office of Energy’s Zero-Net Energy Home demo projects. All this functionality and over-the-top energy accomplishments, and it’s still a charming little house, inside and out.
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 is a full-service and integrated interdisciplinary design studio. It was founded in 1999 with the mission to create meaningful and 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 and places. Jeff Kovel and Brent Grubb serve as design principal and principal, respectively. The firm is the winner of many awards from the Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association (OCAPA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Many people know Skylab Architecture for The Yard, a 21-story dark glass tower located at the end of the Burnside Bridge. Besides the looming shadow of the complex, the firm offers a deep portfolio of projects with excellent aesthetic quality. Take the Hoke Residence. Also known as the Twilight House, it is situated at the border of Portland and Forest Park and was harmoniously crafted to reflect the urban wild environment. Built and designed at the intersection of inside and outside spaces, the vibrant outdoor surroundings are framed within the expansive interior settings. Creating a light and spacious tree-house-like experience was modernized by means of angular details placed amongst flowing spaces, which highlights the forest canopy. This was all done while crafting a home with minimum building footprint through utilizing cantilevered volumes.
Architectural Record 10 Design Vanguard,
Residential Architect Design Award
3514 N Vancouver Avenue #300, Portland, OR 97227
About Waechter Architecture
Waechter Architecture is a full-service architecture firm headquartered in Portland. It is led by founder and principal Ben Waechter and 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.” 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 building projects center on simplicity and efficiency while remaining distinguished and uniquely authentic.
Overlooking Northwest Portland’s industrial district, the Tower House is steeply grounded in its Willamette Heights site with a large stack of four floors (600 feet each). A dining room and kitchen as well as living rooms on top of the bedrooms make this place quite a spectacle. Since there is no elevator, the Tower House is accessed by a 24-foot-long bridge that extends up and off on the third floor. The exterior is considered somewhat austere, with bronze-colored and corrugated metal highlighting its vertical posture and rounded corners that give it a delicate balance. On each stack/floor is a white deck for a bit of accent. Now let’s talk about another project: the Pavilion House located in NE Portland. What do you do when you want a glass house but also want privacy when the property is on a visually exposed lot? You call Waechter Architecture and they will draw, design, and build you the solution. Four rectangular legs hold up the second story of the home, which houses the stairs, bathroom, storage, and kitchen. Between these legs lives an open floor plan, which even expands to an outdoor living room through a floor-to-ceiling glass door. The concrete floor is polished cast on grade, which makes the floor-to yard transition seamless, creating a feeling of great expanse while somehow feeling intimate. The upstairs spaces are even more intimate but its cellular plan is also flexible, with three compact and contained bedrooms that orbit around a central gathering area and study space.
Works Progress Architecture
AIA Portland Built Merit Award
811 SE Stark Street #210, Portland, OR 97214
About Works Progress Architecture
Works Progress Architecture (WPA) is an architectural design studio with offices in both Los Angeles and Portland. Started by Carrie Strickland and William Neburka, WPA was launched in 2005 and has since been known as a progressive firm that always provides clear, conceptual diagrams no matter the project or spectrum of approach. They excel in responding to environmental, program, and individual requests and requirements and consider themselves as walking the line between stern and sexy, and between simple and complex. Their work has been featured in several publications such as Dwell Magazine, Dezeen, AIA Home, and Design Week. WPA once nabbed the number 5 spot in Architect Magazine’s Top 50 US Architect Firms.
The Bowstring Truss House is a private residence and studio that was previously a 5,000 square-foot warehouse and auto repair shop. The firm retained the bones of the design, which included exposed roof framing and four bow-string trusses, and used an open floor plan while adapting the space into a livable residence. To do this, WPA created private living areas amongst the expansive areas while inserting new elements of functionality with special consideration to the environment. New skylights were added to the home to provide natural daylight and the center of the house has a roofscape and groundscape that form a central courtyard. This project won the AIA Portland Built Merit Award and has been featured in several write-ups in Dwell, DeZeen, and Architecture Foundation of Oregon. For those who want to live with their family but also want some extra space, one might consider the design of the Tandem House. The house is made up of two interlocking boxes, which showcase the open and private duality of the structure. WPA did an excellent job streaming natural light into the center of the house, creating a play of lights and shadows within the home. Experimenting with the use of light again, the central staircase of perforated metal is not only bent, but also flanked by a structure of screen walls made from laminated lumber. This allows light in and filters different views throughout all areas of the house. The development of such a home reexamines and uniquely alters the functional split-level house, all while exhibiting the literal and visual connections that one wants in a modern house’s layout.