the sight of typical tract housing pains Matthew Berman, Assoc. AIA, and Andrew Kotchen, Assoc. AIA. “We have every American architect’s frustration at what is going on in this country, visually,” Berman says. He and Kotchen, principals of New York–based firm workshop/apd, are taking action by developing RightFrame, an online home design system intended to give homeowners and builders an alternative to current single-family housing options.

In 2006, Berman and Kotchen won Global Green’s international competition to design affordable housing in New Orleans. Experienced in high-end, custom residential work, they gained a new understanding of the countless decisions the average homeowner must make while building a house. “The Global Green project was really about aligning good design, green design, and affordability,” Berman explains. Combining the knowledge gained from this project with their subsequent research, the pair created the RightFrame platform.

RightFrame makes the process of buying a new house similar to that of purchasing a car, with pre-edited design options and cost information clearly presented in a user-friendly, online format. Buyers can choose from eight different massing options in a sleek “modern” or more traditional “classic” style. Multiple floor plans exist within each massing selection, and available sizes range from 800 to 3,300 square feet. Three levels of exterior and interior finishes allow for room-by-room cost control.

Currently, RightFrame is still in the beta testing stage. Berman and Kotchen plan to add more pricing and environmental impact information, as well as additional design options. They envision the system as a link between builders and homeowners, and they hope to assemble a lineup of builders to serve as exclusive RightFrame vendors. Says Berman: “We’re giving you the tools to make an informed decision and giving the builder the tools to build the house.” Visit for more information on the system.