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August 11, 1999

Brian Brand, Baylis Architects

  • A look at local designers and what makes them tick.
  • Snapshot logo

    By SAM BENNETT
    Journal Staff reporter

    Brian Brand
    Brian Brand

    Brian Brand

    Firm: Baylis Architects
    Office: 10801 Main St., Bellevue
    Year founded: 1972
    Staff size: 40
    Recent project: Issaquah Courthouse

    Q: What is your firm's specialty?

    A: We primarily do private work. We've tried in the past 27 years to specialize in design-oriented projects. We started as a single-family residential firm and still do some homes. But we've expanded into doing a variety of other kinds of projects. We do a lot of mixed-use condo/retail work and a little public work. We just finished a courthouse, and we have worked on churches, corporate office buildings and retail. We do all the Barnes & Noble stores in the Northwest. We do a little work outside Seattle we've been involved in a ski lodge renovation at Stevens Pass. We tend to enjoy working with clients who are end-users, like the courthouse, Barnes & Noble and single-family residential clients.

    Q: What recent projects are you proud of?

    Issaquah Courthouse tiles
    Contemporary materials, such as slate tile, were used in the Issaquah Courthouse.
    A: We just finished the newest district courthouse in the King County court system, located in Issaquah. It's been a really rewarding project. It took a long time to get the project through King County, under a public/private partnership, which is a unique process in the development of projects. It has a large, two-story gallery space. That is a very dramatic space, with clerestory windows and a custom art piece that hangs down from the ceiling. The art piece is designed to interact with the light. For a fairly limited budget, we were able to incorporate some interesting details and very unique architecture using very durable materials.

    We also just completed the Mondrian, which is a mixed-use condo and retail building that is located right on the edge of the northwest corner of Bellevue Downtown Park. This project is developed on a small piece of land that is not usable by the park, which our client was able to purchase. The building overlooks all of Downtown Park and has a view of Mount Rainier. It's a luxury, high-end condo building. We blended a series of materials, using some interesting steel shades and other architectural elements to articulate the building.

    We used an interesting trellis at the base to provide arbors. We very much wanted a blend between the building and the park setting.

    Bellevue is a contemporary urban city and we were trying not to do a neo-traditional building. We were trying to design a building that fit the type of city Bellevue wants to be, which is a more contemporary urban city.

    Q: Since you passed on neo-traditional with the Mondrian, what is your stance on that trend?

    The McCoy residence
    The McCoy residence near Redmond uses subdued colors and structural detail to provide a rustic feel.
    A: We are not interested in doing neo-traditional buildings. If you do neo-traditional architecture and try to recall literal images from the past, it calls for the use of certain materials and technology. We are not losing track of what happened in the past, but we also try to utilize the labor skills and materials available in the market now in this day and time. The urban fabric is made better by having a mix of buildings that evoke the values and the labor skill available for that time, and that changes from time to time.

    Q: Do you prescribe to any design style?

    A: I am a modernist at heart and I work with a lot of people who are more traditionally oriented. Our firm is made up of a lot of diverse people, though on architecture we can almost always agree on one fundamental aspect of what a design should be. Those are things we carry over from generation to generation. Where the variables come in is materials and the form of the building and the technology we've been able to make the buildings with. We can embrace technology without ignoring the tradition architecture has left us. But that doesn't mean we have to do the same that others have done in the past.

    Q: How does the sustainable building approach affect your designs?

    A: A priority with our designs is the use of sustainable materials. We think architecture has to be built in a responsible manner, so we use resources well. The work we enjoy doing most and that is most gratifying is infill projects taking down buildings past their prime or building on a site that has been overlooked. We think there are a lot of good reasons to do that one is a responsibility to growth management as a way to strengthen the inner city and keep it the center of life.

    Q: Are you interested in making an architectural statement?

    A: We've had a lot of discussions about wild statements and one of the fellas associated with the firm calls it in-your-face architecture.

    You can create a strong architectural statement without making it so in your face.

    Q: What brought you to Baylis in 1972?

    The Mondrian
    The Mondrian in Bellevue blends natural materials and colors with elegant landscaping.
    A: I moved here from California when I graduated from college. I chose this area because I was looking for a different environment to make architecture in. I decided to quit the job I had and work with El [Baylis, founder]. I remember something he said: "If we only have enough work for one month, that's good enough for me." He was the kind of architect I thought all architects should be concerned about design and all aspects of architecture. He is still active in the firm. He provides background support for all of us here.

    Q: What got you into architecture?

    A: I think I was born to be an architect. My father was a contractor and I was exposed to buildings from the beginning. I became an apprentice carpenter for my father when I was 16. My uncle hired me to do some drawings for him, and I never looked back. It just clicked that I would combine my love of art with something as wonderful as designing a building.


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