After 23 years with Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (OSKA), Scott Allen, AIA, has launched his own firm, Scott Allen Architecture. Allen helped lead OSKA, which just won this year's AIA Firm of the Year, for more than 15 years as a managing partner, overseeing its expansion into the Asian market. His work has been recognized by several design institutions, including the Seattle chapter of The American Institute of Architects, the Seattle Design Center's Northwest Design Awards program, and the Masonry Institute of Washington, and he has played a key role in OSKA's development and success.
Of his decision to strike out on his own, Allen said, "I'm not getting any younger. There were some challenges I didn't have in the office structure that I wanted to try on my own and some areas of practice [I wanted to explore] that were more my thing than the office's thing."
Plus, the country's economic situation, which he likens to a broken play in football, offers an opportunity for Allen to retool his thinking about the profession and his practice. Allen's office is currently headquartered in his Bainbridge Island, Wash., home, offering him a chance to set his own pace and to reinvent his approach to practice. "The idea is to use modern technology and connect with colleagues worldwide and build a different kind of office," he explains. "I think there's tremendous opportunity to rethink the way that we work, and to think much more carefully about the use of resources, and the moves you make, and the value that you imbue into a building, and how that all plays out over time."
Although Scott Allen Architecture will be an integrated practice offering the full range of planning and design services for a variety of project types, Allen is looking forward to doing more residential work. He is particularly interested in adapting many of the lessons learned from OSKA's residential work for wealthy clients to a more affordable scale. "Good proportions, interesting colors, different material choices—they don't necessarily have to be more expensive," Allen says. "Particularly in the Northwest, I think there is a market for good, well-thought-out contemporary design at a price point that hasn't been accessible to much of the public."
Allen is currently developing a Web site for his practice; it will be located at www.scottallenarchitecture.com.