"Design, after all, is the art of finding a single solution to multiple desires."
Mark Wilson Jones on the Pantheon in Principles of Roman Architecture
We have filled this site with pictures of our work, prosaic and poetic. Enjoy them and perhaps you will respond to something you see and be curious to speak with us in more depth. The diversity and sheer amount of work reveal a great deal about us, but the pictures don't tell the full story; some words are also needed.
We've stayed small to concentrate our strengths of attention to detail and personal contact with each client. We pursue design with a wide vision to integrate the competing forces of practical, private, public and poetic desire into a single solution. Our commitment to our non-profit partners, addressing unmet social needs and sustainability with limited funds and our special staff is unwavering. We then use our construction backgrounds to carry these ideals and ideas into the real world and realize them by leading teams of good people.
Bob Duncan and Michael Wisniewski formed Duncan • Wisniewski Architecture in 1985 after enjoying working together in another firm. We shared a commitment to certain principles related to architecture, society, the realization of design as built work and what would come to be called sustainability. Pursuing these ideals, we chose to remain a relatively small firm to devote our personal attention to clients and their projects. On any given project, big or small, either Bob or Michael will be the partner in charge and intimately involved from design through construction. Over the past decade we have developed a small, but very dynamic and talented staff who are taking us to the next level in our work. Our work ranges from small renovations to large structures and even entire neighborhoods.
Design is not a linear process where a grand vision is articulated and the rest is just rote implementation while trying to prevent practical realities from intruding. It is more dynamic, full of feedback loops and revisions as layers of information that go far beyond the artistic are distilled down into a design. Design is elegant when the artistic and practical are welded into one; when, as quoted above, multiple desires are expressed in a single solution.
At the beginning of design we think of many things at the same time: program, site and context are in the foreground, but we are also looking down the road and using our experience to find solutions that will integrate vision with pesky reality.
A perfect example is a parking garage under a building which, per code, can be open or closed. Open is a visible and a thorny design element to address. Closed is hidden but needs ventilation which has upfront and operating costs as well as a long term negative carbon footprint for the electricity to run the ventilation. Either solution might be appropriate, but being aware of what seems to be a detail early in the process allows us to balance the design and energy equation early on and integrate the decision into the solution.
What is the Passive approach? Passive means PRO-actively designing structures that use less energy, last beyond a lifetime, and offer a sanctuary for the inhabitants. Duncan Wisniewski Architecture is committed to learning, teaching, and sharing passive design. Passive is a mindset placing value on the ecosystems and communities we inhabit at home and at work. Passive House is a performance building standard that sets a pretty high bar for low energy consumption. Simply put- we believe in designing good places that prosper, and we have adopted a design strategy focusing on a robust building envelope (passive) to minimize mechanical systems (active). Learn more...