A look at developments in residential architecture builds on our ‘Decade of Change’ theme in our own backyard.

Share story

CHANGE IS ___________. “Inevitable,” maybe? “Good”? “Gonna come”? All of those, plus a jillion other options?

This week, we’re filling in that blank with “crucial” first, especially in the case of this year’s Pacific NW magazine theme: A Decade of Change.

And then, in the more-specific case of developments in Seattle-area residential architecture since 2008, we’re going to pop in “everywhere around us — hel-LO!”

THE FULL STORY: 5 architectural approaches that are shaping the way we live

For one thing, says architect Mary Johnston (who launched Johnston Architects with her husband, Ray Johnston, in 1991), there is a lot more architecture going on these days — and many more architects doing it.

“In 2008, at the beginning of the recession, was when we started to feel it,” she says. “People will buy groceries and clothes; they need them, but architecture is sometimes discretionary: ‘I was going to do that remodel, but I don’t think I’m going to risk it.’ Someone building a vacation home decides, ‘I’d better save my money.’

“There was very little work. Architects were saying, ‘What are we going to do?’ The field lost a lot of people, especially younger people.”

But then … you know … that change that was gonna come, came.

“Now it’s very hard to find people; there’s a lot of competition for talent,” Johnston says. “It’s a good time to be getting out of architecture school. Everyone is busy; we see that continuing for a while.”

For their own while, the Johnstons were quite busy designing the whole-city-block community that is Bryant Heights, which illustrates one of our five featured chunks of architectural change: thoughtfully integrating multifamily housing into single-family neighborhoods.

We also spoke with other busy folks in the residential-architectural realm to identify, and illustrate through their work, four others — detached accessory dwelling units, modular housing, distinctive high-rise-apartment design and green building.

Certainly, inevitably, there will be more change to come.