We are a small residential design practice whose primary reason for being is to help our clients build thoughtfully-conceived homes that can be constructed within their budgets.
We only do residential work, and we only take on a handful of clients each year. We are an approachable, personable firm and our goal is to remain that way.
What we do is a way of life for us – we are passionate about design and creating good homes for real people – people with a strong appreciation for good design and sensitive building at an appropriate scale.
We only consider ourselves successful when a client is living in their home and recommending us to others.
We believe design is a process through which intentions become reality.
We believe that this design process begins with a client and a client’s aspirations and that our role is to facilitate these goals.
We believe a design must always be investigated and understood in terms of how it will be made, whether it is manufactured or hand-crafted.
We believe that good design should be democratic and widely accessible - not just the privilege of an elite few.
We believe the surest way to democratize good design is by leveraging prefabrication and its proven delivery methods.
Born in Seattle and raised in British Columbia, Joel Turkel earned a bachelor of environmental studies from the University of Manitoba, and a masters of architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was named the Ann Beha travelling fellow. He is a recipient of the Marvin E. Goody prize in architecture for his work on prefabricated residential building systems.
Turkel worked under architect Fernando Domeyko-Perez and with several international groups including the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture in both India and Syria; the Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in Ethiopia; and the Space in and In-Between Workshop under the direction of architects Steven Holl, Fumihiko Maki and Frank Gehry.
From 1999 to 2007 Turkel served as the Creative Director of Empyrean International. During his tenure there, he played a key role in several major initiatives including the development of the Dwell Homes by Empyrean, a unique collaboration between Lazor Office, Resolution 4: Architecture and Dwell magazine. He is the creator of NextHouse, a series of prefabricated modern homes marketed by the Dwell brand from 2005 to 2008.
Turkel is a frequent critic at architecture schools throughout the United States, and between 2002 and 2008 held a faculty position in the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, where he taught both design studios and a graduate level course entitled The Prefab Workshop: Design, Fabrication and the Modern Delivery Mechanism.
In 2007, he founded Turkel Design with his wife and partner Meelena Oleksiuk Turkel.
Originally from Toronto, Oleksiuk Turkel was trained in Canada, Switzerland, and the United States, earning a bachelor of arts in architecture from the University of Toronto, and a masters of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT, her graduate research in digital fabrication, open-source manufacturing, and housing and land-use policy culminated in her thesis: Breaking out of the Static Dwelling: Redesigning the Triple-decker.
Oleksiuk Turkel worked under both Thomas Payne of KPMB Architects and Paul Didur Architect of Toronto. Her interest in issues related to housing and the residential landscape has led to on-going involvement in several major design initiatives:
From 2004-2006 she was an active collaborator in The Lift-House Project, an outreach effort of Oxfam and the Special Interest Group in Urban Settlement (SIGUS) to provide disaster relief housing to Gulf Coast communities; a straw-bale construction venture providing low-cost environmentally-conscious housing to itinerant workers in rural Virginia, and in 2006 she was part of a design effort led by Arizona architect Rick Joy to prepare a new town plan for Bahia Balandra, Mexico.
Before co-founding Turkel Design in 2007, she worked in Japan with architect Shun Kanda and in conjunction with the Kyoto civic development authority on redevelopment schema for the machiya, the traditional Japanese townhouse type of the Kyoto prefecture.
She lives and practices in Cambridge, MA with her husband and partner Joel Turkel. They divide their time between Cambridge and Toronto.
Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, Olga Ryabenko lived in both Europe and the Middle East before coming to the United States in 1997. She received her professional training at the Kyiv National University where she was awarded degrees in Architecture and Construction.
Ryabenko has worked in creative development for European television, as both a content strategist and animation director. After immigration to the United States, she took on a role as senior staff designer with Deck House of Acton, Massachusetts, where she was responsible for component design, product development and manufacturing coordination.
In 2005, she became a senior studio manager with Empyrean APF, where she played a key role in numerous major commissions and initiatives, including the development of the Dwell Homes by Empyrean, a series of prefabricated modern homes branded by Dwell magazine.
During her tenure at Empyrean, Ryabenko also collaborated with several leading architectural practices including Office dA of Boston, Resolution 4: Architecture of NYC, Lazor Office of Minneapolis and Maryann Thompson Architects of Cambridge, interpreting and implementing architectural concepts into proprietary prefabricated systems.
In 2008, she joined Turkel Design. She lives in metropolitan Boston with her husband Vitaliy and their 4-year-old son.
Born in West Virginia, Jacob Wright was raised in upstate New York, where he received both a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Master’s of Architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo, graduating summa cum laude.
Wright has had extensive multi-disciplinary design experience, working with Walt Disney World in ride and show engineering workshops focusing on the design, fabrication, and implementation of total sensory immersion environments. Wright has studied advanced 3D imaging, modeling, rapid prototyping, storyboarding, and matrix management strategies to create multiple experiences within familiar human-scaled settings.
From 2004 to 2008 Wright served as both Director of Client Services and Senior Project Manager at Empyrean International, where he routinely managed numerous custom residential projects and clients over geographically dispersed areas.
As a team a leader with the “Small Built Works” design-build community initiative projects, Wright’s work has been recognized with a Grand Prize by the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB). Wright is a frequent guest critic and lecturer at design institutions throughout the Northeast.
He lives in Saratoga Springs, NY with his wife, Nicole, and their 2 children.