Shoptalk - Jeff Pelletier, AIA, CPHC

Q: When you founded your firm, what were your goals and how have they evolved?

When I founded Board & Vellum, I focused on advocating for clients I really connected with, regardless of their preferred aesthetic, rather than working only on projects of one architectural style. I wrote a lot of blog posts and tried my hardest to give out as much free advice as I could in the interest of client advocacy.

As the company has grown over the years, I’ve enjoyed passing on those lessons to our team, letting their knowledge and input refine my initial vision. In addition to creating internal training programs on how to elevate client care, I’ve also found that beyond taking care of clients, taking care of employees and advocating for our team has been a natural evolution.

Q: What’s your favorite stage of a project?

I absolutely love the early schematic design phase. Getting into a client’s head and figuring out solutions to their challenges is one of the greatest loves of my life. There are literally times when I’ll yell out with joy when I feel like I’ve found a great solution. Sharing that journey with a client and seeing the excitement in their eyes when we find a plan that just “sings” is fantastic.

Q: Board & Vellum has received many sustainable and green building awards, is there a notable project that epitomizes your firm’s efforts in sustainable design?

The Fremont High-Performing Home was a wonderful project, really showcasing a realistic solution for urban homeowners. Projects can certainly be more sustainable, but in balancing the project goals, we helped identify specific approaches that both made sense for the project and matched the client’s values. A high-performing home shouldn’t just be inexpensive to operate, but should also be comfortable, have wonderful air, and simply feel right. This project did all those things while also respecting the scale of the neighborhood.

Q: Tell us a bit about your approach as an architect in a multidisciplinary firm.

Besides architecture and interior design, our firm includes a large sitedesign / landscape architecture studio. Bringing landscape architects in-house was absolutely the best decision I’ve made as a business owner. I’m frankly in love with the outside environment, and it is one of the reasons I moved to Seattle. Having a really talented team of landscape architects and designers in our studios means we look at our projects comprehensively: from outside in and from inside out.

The Backyard Reading Retreat is a project that shows the true value of collaboration between architects, interior designers, and landscape architects. Without all three of those disciplines on the team from the start, the project would not have been as successful. Most of our projects now are designed comprehensively across disciplines and they just end up better for it.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the workday?

I love our design crits. All our projects are sent through an intense critique open to everyone in the office. You get varying opinions about design choices and it is always a lively and productive conversation. Leaves me inspired every time.

Q: Top travel destination for inspiration?

I love a good urban environment with cozy alleys, outdoor seating, and dynamic retail. Cities like Barcelona feel like home when I’m there. Having neighborhoods with a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces – and commercial spaces that excite you – are what make being in a city so rewarding. That said, my favorite places are still the beautiful outdoor environments that just take your breath away. I recently did a 9-day backpacking trip in Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah and the shapes and textures of the environment really allowed me to step back and appreciate the beauty of scale and our place in the world.

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