Joseph Tanney, AIA, recalls the early 1990s’ recession with a hint of nostalgia. “We had just started; we were too dumb to know what was going on,” says the co-architect, with partner Robert Luntz, AIA, of the first Dwell Home. “There’s something to be said for being young and optimistic.” This time around, Tanney and Luntz know well the risks of practicing architecture in a down market. “We’ve been lucky,” Tanney says. “But we do sense the environment around us slowing up.”

Their New York City firm, Resolution: 4 Architecture (Res: 4), is holding fairly steady so far. Its diverse project portfolio, which includes modular houses, site-built houses, loft interiors, and offices, gives it a ready-made set of checks and balances against a volatile economy. Some residential projects have been put on hold, but others are moving ahead as planned. The firm’s commercial side, meanwhile, has picked up considerably. Much of its current work consists of offi ce projects, including a 100,000-square-foot master plan in San Francisco and the expansion of the New York City headquarters for Equinox Fitness Clubs.

Despite the overall market slowdown, Tanney and Luntz’s vision for Res: 4’s future remains unchanged. They plan to maintain their mix of residential and commercial work, with prefab as a crucial component. Currently they’ve got about a dozen modular houses built, another dozen under construction, and a third dozen on the boards.

They’re also working with developers to create entire modular communities. “During these sort-of unsure times, aspects of the prefab method of delivery are more predictable,” Tanney opines. “There’s a certain knowability about the process.”

Robert Luntz, AIA (left), and Joseph Tanney, AIA
Resolution: 4 Architecture Robert Luntz, AIA (left), and Joseph Tanney, AIA

age of firm: 19 years
firm specialty: Custom houses (both prefab and site-built), loft interiors, and commercial
staff: 10 to 12 (2005); 10 to 12 (2008); 10 to 12 (2009, projected)
total revenue: Down 1 percent to 2 percent from 2005 (2008); down 1 percent to 2 percent from 2008 (2009, projected)
completed projects: 10 (2005); 10 (2008); 10 to 15 (2009, projected)