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Means of Support: One of Larson’s favorite details (shown in a firm project) is a bone-simple galvanized steel column produced to his specs by a local fabricator. “It has a great material quality,” he says. And, true enough, this is one structural piece that expresses exactly what it is and what it does. “It’s timeless,” he adds. “It’s modern because it has a bright finish, but it’s also kind of old-school. And you never have to paint or finish it.” American Galvanizers Association, galvanizeit.org

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Core Value: Thermomass’s System CIP incorporates a layer of rigid foam insulation at the core of a foundation wall, without the need for unconventional forms or equipment. “It provides a wall that can be exposed inside and out,” Larson says, and that opens up a lot of architectural possibilities. “You can really control the texture of the house,” he says. In combination with the inherent durability of concrete, he adds, “it’s a way to get a really beautiful finish that will be permanent.” Thermomass, thermomass.com

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Get Skinny: Larson derives special satisfaction from designing a functional powder room or bathroom into an unlikely sliver of a floor plan. There’s something interesting that happens, he says, “when you’ve got a tiny space that actually fits,” and Duravit’s smallest Vero washbasin can fit almost anywhere. Diminutive in size, yet comfortable to use, “it’s whimsical and beautiful,” Larson says. “It makes you glad your bathroom is so small.” Duravit, duravit.us

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Credit: Susan Gilmore


Further Reflection: Made of a resin with 38 percent recycled content, Chroma solid surface material from 3form is available in a rainbow of translucent colors. “It has almost a glow,” says Larson, who uses the material in thick slabs that combine visual heft with a certain vaporous quality (see the firm project shown here). “Even more than glass, it takes on the light around it,” he says. “And it’s still durable enough to be a countertop.” 3form, 3-form.com

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Credit: Susan Gilmore


Strong Finish: One of the most ancient of the building arts, traditional plaster (shown here in a firm project) remains the gold standard of interior wall finishes, and Larson is a big fan. “We use real plaster on projects where we’re looking for something more artful or controllable,” he says. “It’s durable, cleanable, and repairable. It’s really an elegant way to bring a personal finish to a space.” USG, usg.com

Wish List

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Even Glow: Having specified a backlit, translucent art panel for one of his projects, Larson completed the assembly with an eLume LED light panel. He’d love the chance to use this product again. Thin, dimmable, and custom-sized, the units are a versatile, low-power alternative to fluorescent lighting. “They’re very evenly lit, not having a hot spot at the edge,” Larson says. “And they’re so thin that we didn’t have to put a clunky frame around them.” Elumanation, elumanation.com

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Photo Play: If art can animate the inside of a building, Larson asks, why not the outside too? Goldray’s Technographic Interlayer facilitates such applications by sandwiching a high-resolution image, printed on polyester film, between two sheets of glass. “It allows you to have permanent art on an exterior façade and backlight it,” Larson says. Goldray Industries, goldrayindustries.com

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Hearth of Stone: The Mt. Chuckanut stone hearth pizza oven conveys the visual warmth of an open fireplace, while also handling what Larson calls “serious cooking.” Fired with wood, gas, or both, the unit has a galvanized steel finish and can be built into indoor or outdoor housings. “It comes as only the core, and you clad the whole thing,” Larson says. And while built for restaurant service, “it’s residential scale,” he says. “It can be the centerpiece of the kitchen.” Wood Stone Corp., woodstone-corp.com

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Frosty Reception: A garage door may be the largest single assembly on a house’s façade, so choosing the right one is something of a high-stakes move. For overhead doors that complement his firm’s work, Larson specifies Clopay’s aluminum-frame Avante Collection with glass panels. “We love them because they’re modern and let a boatload of light in,” he says. When fitted with frosted glass panels, he notes, “they provide privacy too.” Clopay, clopay.com

See all the entries in Architects' Choice 2013.