Olson Kundig Architects began its creative existence with architect Jim Olson, whose work in the late 1960s explored the relationship between dwellings and the landscape they inhabit in the Northwest. Olson started the firm based on some simple ideas: that buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture and people, and that inspiring surroundings have a positive effect on people’s lives. Rick Sundberg joined the firm in 1975, and its commitment to urbanism and civic life became evident as they began designing and developing modern urban buildings in and around Seattle’s national historic districts Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square.
In 1996, Tom Kundig joined Olson and Sundberg as an owner, taking the firm to another level of creative exploration and helping it grow into an office with an international reputation. Alan Maskin and Kirsten Murray joined the owners group in 2008, continuing the evolution of the firm and furthering its commitment to the experience around architecture, articulated in exhibit design, interiors, and connections to urban and rural landscapes.
The firm now numbers over 80 employees. Olson Kundig Architects’ work, including museums, academic buildings, exhibit design, interior design, places of worship and residences, often for art collectors, is now worldwide. Our in-house interiors studio, founded in 2000, provides a full range of services including material selection, custom furniture design and purchasing capabilities. The interiors studio continues the long tradition of continuity between architecture and interiors. The office combines the capacity of a large firm with the intensity of a small one. The firm’s commitment to vigorous, critical design review sessions has infused its designers with a shared sense of commitment to every project.
Among the firm’s accolades are the 2009 National AIA Architecture Firm Award (as Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects), national and regional design awards from the American Institute of Architects, American Architecture Awards from the Chicago Athenaeum, Jim Olson’s 2007 Seattle Medal of Honor and Tom Kundig’s National Design Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt and his Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The owners lecture extensively on design, regularly serve as university studio critics, and are board members for civic institutions and jury awards programs. The firm’s award-winning work has been widely exhibited in North America, has been published extensively, including in the New York Times Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Architectural Record, and has been featured numerous times on the covers of books and magazines.
Books on the firm’s work include Jim Olson Houses (The Monacelli Press, 2009); Tom Kundig: Houses (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006); Art + Architecture: The Ebsworth Collection + Residence, (William Stout Publishers, 2006); The Frye Art Museum: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (Documentary Media, 2007); and a monograph of the firm’s work, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects: Architecture, Art and Craft (The Monacelli Press, 2003).
Jim Olsen is inspired by the relationship of architecture and art.
In residential projects across the country, often for art collectors, Olson has profoundly explored the aesthetic interplay of art and architecture, and the relationship of light, space and mood. His work consistently demonstrates that art is not an afterthought to architecture but an integral part of it, as he creates homes that offer an appropriate environment for living with art and sensitivity to the varying space and light requirements of differing art genres. His commitment to the integration of these fields carries through other project types, as Olson at times takes a curatorial role in selecting and commissioning art for institutional and residential clients, as well as designing custom furniture.
Rick Sundberg is fascinated with urban settings and the mystery of what makes cities work.
Sundberg pairs meticulous attention to physical detail with a broad architectural vision and the insistence on viewing sites and buildings in their larger context. The firm’s projects in downtown Seattle demonstrate Sundberg’s high level of commitment to the idea of urbanism. These buildings are strengthened and enriched by their context, and the buildings in turn add richness and diversity to the districts in which they are located. Implicit in the idea of context is that of community, and Sundberg’s urban structures contribute to the development of community in their surrounding neighborhoods.
Tom Kundig is the recipient of the 2008 National Design Award in Architecture Design, awarded by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He has won seven National AIA Institute Honor Awards and is a recipient of a 2007 Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which recognizes architects whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction. In 2004, Kundig was selected as one of eight North American Emerging Architects by the Architectural League of New York and was elected to the College of Fellows by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He was a finalist for the 2005 National Design Award for Architecture, and he is a recipient of a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. Architectural Record has named two of Kundig’s projects Record Houses – the Rolling Huts in 2008 and Delta Shelter in 2006. To date, Kundig has been awarded a total of thirty-three AIA awards, and over fifty awards total. The firm received the 2009 National AIA Architecture Firm Award (as Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects).
Kirsten R. Murray’s passion for Seattle’s urban fabric manifests itself in a wide range of complex projects for Olson Kundig Architects. Her leadership, particularly on projects requiring significant programming, spans hotels to cultural facilities, small vacation homes to large estates.
Murray joined Olson Kundig Architects in 1989, and became an owner in 2008. She is a generalist architect with particular interest and experience on residential, mixed use, and institutional projects with complex site development and programmatic aspects including site selection and analysis, programming, master planning and design. She is currently working on several urban infill projects, including Art Stable in Seattle’s South Lake Union, the 1900 First Avenue Hotel and Apartments in the city’s downtown, and the Casey Family Programs Headquarters.
Alan Maskin’s talent and passion for art and design drives his work at Olson Kundig Architects. His strong interest in the ways that architecture can be represented led him to develop and articulate a firm philosophy on visual information and the ways we convey architecture to clients, in design competitions and in publications. In addition to overseeing the visual representations of the firm’s portfolio, Maskin’s work at the firm includes the design of museums, exhibits, residences, and stage and set designs.