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.

Top Architects

Jeffrey Miller Architect

Jeffrey Miller

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 written up for noteworthy projects, Jeffrey Miller is a Portland native but holds degrees from both Boston University and the University of Washington. He has also studied engineering, art, and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His firm has completed a variety of residential projects (over 500) 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 his firm is known for. Although the residential plans are always inspired by the client, the firm is reputable for graphically translating and finding solutions to 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.

Featured Projects

Jeffrey Miller’s projects are not like those of the many designers who collage different historical motifs into a conglomerate of confusing glue. Rather, his work is always extremely informed by the past while steering clear of trends. The Stafford Hills Ranch is no exception. 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 a 8,000 square feet pivot off a one-and-a-half-story solarium, which works well with the cloudy climate of Portland, Oregon. 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 Olympic basalt, which glows a kind yellow hue when the light hits at the right angle. Every detail of the house was thoroughly envisioned.

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 is a full-service and integrated interdisciplinary design studio. It was founded in 1999 with the mission 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 and place and food. Jeff Kovel is the design principal. The other principal is Brent Grubb. The firm is the winner of many awards from the Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association (OCAPA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Featured Projects

Many people offhandedly know Skylab Architecture for The Yard, their 21-story dark glass tower that lives at the end of the Burnside Bridge. But the firm has completed other single residence homes that are quite lovely, even if overshadowed by the glooming controversial complex. Take the Hoke Residence for example, also known as the Twilight House. The house, which is situated at the border of Portland and Forest Park, 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 highlighting the forest canopy. This was all done while crafting a home with a minimum building footprint by utilizing cantilevered volumes.

Dao Architecture

Joanne Le
David Horsley

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 deliberate spaces which 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 working for some of the West Coast’s most distinguished architectural firms, prior to founding their own firm in 2004. Dao is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise, a Women Business Enterprise, and an Emerging Small Business and is an LLC 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.

Featured Projects

In Irvington, the lovely historic Portland neighborhood, Dao created a compact dwelling — 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 also retaining privacy with patterned glass. This was all accomplished with a low cost, while utilizing sustainable features that are elegant and unobstructive. The residence was written up as “Houses That Matter” in Portland Monthly Design Annual and featured in both the Modern Homes tour and the AIA Portland Homes tours.

SERA Architects

Bing Sheldon (+)
Kurt Schultz

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.

Featured Projects

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.

Works Progress Architecture

Carrie Strickland
Jennifer Dzienis

AIA Portland Built Merit Award

811 SE Stark Street #210, Portland, OR 97214

About Works Progress Architecture

Works Progress Architecture is an architectural design studio with offices in both Los Angeles and Portland. WPA was launched in 2005 and has since been known as a progressive yet established firm that always provides clear, conceptual diagrams no matter the project or spectrum of approaches. They excel in responding to environmental, program, and individual requests and requirements. They consider themselves as walking the line between stern and sexy, and between simple and complex. They have been featured in several publications, such as Dwell Magazine, Dezeen, AIA Home, and Design Week. In the design category, last year Works Progress Architecture was named No. 5 in Architect’s top 50 US Architect Firms.

Featured Projects

The Bowstring Truss House is a private residence and studio that was previously a 5,000-square-foot warehouse and auto repair shop. With exposed roof framing and four bow-string trusses, the space maintained the bones of the design and open floor plan while also 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 that houses require. This was not, however, done without special consideration of the natural environment, typical of many top Portland architects. New skylights were put in the home to add light and sun, and the center of the house has a roofscape and groundscape that form a central courtyard of nature. How much more Pacific Northwest can one get? This project won the AIA Portland Built Merit Award and has been featured in several write-ups, such as 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. Take one side, or take both. The house is made up of two interlocked boxes, which exhibit the exchanging of volume that is occurring within the actual housing structure itself. That said, WPA did an excellent job streaming natural light into the center of the house, creating a play of lights and shadows within the home. Call it beauty, call it entertainment — it’s interesting. Experimenting with the use of light again (a necessity for all Portland dwellers), the central stair of perforated metal is not only bent, but also flanked by a structure of screen walls made from laminated lumber. This allows in light and filters different views throughout all areas of the house. The development of such a home reexamines — and then uniquely alters — the functional split-level house, all while exhibiting the literal and visual connections that one wants in a modern house’s layout.

Fieldwork Design and Architecture

Cornell Anderson
Timothy Fouch
Tonia Hein

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, Oregon, and consists of an architectural team, a furniture and craftspeople team, and a hands-on design and build team. Their work is innovative, forward thinking, and always connected to the natural environment, no matter the type of project. Sustainable and local materials are consistently used to enhance natural views and landscape. Natural ventilation and lighting are also key components of their sensitive and memorable work.

Featured Projects

Winner of the 2016 AIA Design Awards “Mayor’s Honorable Mention” and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Design Excellence Awards “Best of Residential,” the Kerns Micro House is one of Fieldwork’s most innovative projects. Made to meet the City of Portland’s strict standards in design without losing an individual personality, this Accessory Dwelling Unit 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 do an excellent job of matching the unit’s sustainable build to the environment. Another amazing project by Fieldwork Design is the West Hills Residence, which won the 2014 IIDA Design Excellence Awards in “Best of Residential” and IIDA Design Excellence Awards in “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 really infuses modernity with the environment of the natural forest, which gives the entire character of the house a restorative, and therapeutic atmosphere that is meant to visually bring clear-minded, restorative beauty to the home.

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

This Portland firm was founded in 1992 by Principals Timothy R. Eddy and Stephen J. Hennebery (now deceased). 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 an ideal 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 a 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.

Waechter Architecture

Ben Waechter

Architectural Record 10 Design Vanguard,
Residential Architect Design Award

3514 N Vancouver Avenue #300, Portland, OR 97227

About Waechter Architecture

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. The founder and principal is Ben Waechter. 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, while remaining distinguished and uniquely authentic.

Featured Projects

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 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 literally 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. Sound futuristic yet? Just wait. The concrete floor is polished cast on grade, which makes the floor-to yard transition impossibly seamless, creating a feeling of great expanse, all while somehow feeling intimate. The upstairs spaces are even more intimate, in what one could perhaps get away with calling in a traditional sense, but its cellular plan is also flexible, with three compact and contained bedrooms that orbit around a central gathering area and study space. On this floor, be private or be together. But be cozy, regardless.

Olson Kundig Architects

Tom Kundig
Jim Olson

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 that doesn’t mean he’s not doing some pretty awesome 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.

Featured Projects

The Portland Heights house was made for clients who were founders of the local Portland jewelry store Twist. Also design entrepreneurs, Paul Schneider and Lauren Eulau clearly devour visual beauty. The house is a two-story, long and stout structure. The width never exceeds that of one room. The living and entertainment rooms sit on top of the bedrooms, and a library with floor-to-ceiling glass, which also spreads across the back elevator. From here one can view the spectacular garden. 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 those Portlanders who want a getaway to a second home a little outside the city. Take the Glass Farm House in NE 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. The north side of the house is a solid exterior wall. The house itself sits on a concrete slab, which is also further supported by a concrete foundation so that heat-absorbing/releasing thermal mass exists in separate isolation from the ground plane. Inside the magnificently modern and transparent house are large spaces for eating, living, and sleeping, which serve as the perimeter to other enclosed areas, including a bathroom, study, and storage area.

PDX Living

Robert Hawthorne
Bart Bergquist

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 that one can trust to build a modern Portland home. The firm is perhaps award-winning in their 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 time. Another winning factor is that they strive to make their projects low-cost despite being high-performance driven. Who doesn’t love affordability?

Featured Projects

Architect Rob Hawthorne and builder Bart Berquist succeed in creating homes that can produce as much electricity as they use, and all at a reasonable mid-ranged price. The CoreHaus was the first residence in Portland to earn “Passive House” certification. The system was started in Germany and is extremely efficient and airtight. It found a buyer quite quickly. Another project, the CH2 House, is a net-zero energy home with a welcoming yet modern exterior. This house has three bedrooms and two baths and is approximately 1,670 square feet of 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. One might also mention the comfort, durability, savings, and air quality that come from well-made decisions and executions, such as the super airtight construction, the Heat Recovery ventilation, or the ultra-high efficiency custom doors with Vacuum Insulated Panels. This house is just plain cool.

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