Credit: Art Grice
Credit: Courtesy Cutler Anderson Architects
James L. Cutler and Bruce E. Anderson
If you were to examine Cutler Anderson Architects’ Strickland Residence, it’s hard to tell if the house dates from 2006 (no) or circa 1986 (yes). That’s because this Pacific Northwest firm has mastered the art of timeless design.
Starting life as James Cutler Architects in 1977, the firm underwent a name change in 2001 when James L. Cutler, FAIA, made Bruce E. Anderson, AIA, a partner. “I was a summer intern who never left,” Anderson jokes. Says Cutler, “He was the best student I had at the University of Washington, so I hired him to do some brochures for us.” Realizing Anderson was too talented and valuable to be stuck on mere brochure work, Cutler gave him more substantial assignments. (For the record, Anderson never actually completed the brochures.)
Today, Cutler Anderson is more or less the same firm from those early years and has a similar philosophy. We are “deeply interested in how beautiful the world is and how we can reveal it,” Cutler declares. And reveal it the firm does with custom homes and commercial projects imbued with sophisticated architecture and simple materials—such as wood, stone, steel, and aluminum—that weather and age gracefully. “There is a greater effort to protect the materials that weather,” Anderson says.
Though Cutler Anderson is about timelessness, the firm is not above embracing technology in construction, materials, and design tools. But technology will not usurp the firm’s core identity. “[It] will never change,” Cutler says. “It will be about how we apply technology to support our underlying philosophy.”
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
Making beautiful choreographies that connect families to the places in which they live.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
Sometimes being unable to make it “gel” in a perfect experience.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
To connect people to the land on which they live.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
Cutler: Bruce Anderson
What software does your firm use?
Who is your ideal client?
Someone who shares our values and can afford to build one of our buildings.
What is your favorite building?
If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?