Tom Wolken, Architect
Licensed Architect since 1989
Kansas State University, Bachelor of Architecture 1985
The first look at a project site is exciting. Initial thoughts are searches for opportunities. What can we do that makes the best use of the resources at hand?
Earth friendly construction begins with timeless design. A well planned and thoughtfully executed project will be a lasting treasure in its community. If you accept that the environmental cost of construction is amortized over the life of a building, it only makes ecological sense to invest the mental energy to create a building that will enjoy a long life. The grand prize is a design that answers the current needs while allowing for many future generations of use.
The temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest offers great inspiration for design, as did the seasons of the Mid-West where I was raised and the desert of the Southwest where I interned and began my career. The experience of considering this wide range of environmental conditions allows for informed design decisions. Energy efficient design starts with asking the question, ‘what is most appropriate given the specific challenges and opportunities of the micro-climate at hand?’
I have explored design at a multitude of scales. After cutting my design teeth on airports, hospitals and conventions centers, I launched WOLKEN architects in 1995 in order to work at the more personal end of the project scale. Residential and retail projects have rapid development schedules compared to the institutional projects that last many years. The faster pace means more design process cycles and therefore more experience to apply to the next project.
It has still been possible to maintain large projects in the mix by serving as the Owner’s Representative on multi-million dollar community projects. The responsibility for appropriate design is heightened in these community focused projects since the lives of thousands of people will be impacted each year. It is also a valuable experience, as an architect, to sit on the Owner’s side of the table. The decision making process looks a little different when you are considering how a design will influence maintenance costs and the operating budget.
If you have a special project and you appreciate this approach to design, I would like to be a part of your project team.