Shoptalk - Rick Berry

Can you tell us about your introduction to architecture and why it originally interested you?

I was 8 years old and living in the northwest when my family drove by a company that manufactured cedar homes. I asked to check it out and we pulled over. We walked through the facility, and I saw a floor plan flyer and was immediately intrigued. I went home, started drawing, and haven’t stopped since.

What were your goals when you joined S|EA and how have they evolved?

I wanted to learn from an expert, and having many years practicing under the founding principals, I knew S|EA was the right place. My goals evolved to include getting better by creating a strong architectural language throughout my work and constantly pushing design.

You’ve built a reputation for excellence in what is often referred to as Northwest Regionalism Architecture; is this architectural style something you’ve always felt strongly about, or was it a gradual process of finding your voice?

Growing up in the northwest, I feel a strong connection to the outdoors and how the built environment can respond, existing as a part of the natural surroundings and not in competition with them. Simple, clear architectural moves such as large overhangs to shield from the wet winters, glass to let the light in, and comfortable, human-scale spaces are foundational elements to my memories of growing up here, and I have followed them in an instinctual pattern in design.

The Residential Team at S|EA, which you lead, has been recognized by the architectural community with numerous local, regional, and national awards, what are some awards you are most proud of?

Two AIA awards stick out as defining moments. The first is a clustered housing development, Shorepine Village, that we worked on in Pacific City – our design blends it into the natural surroundings of the Oregon coast. The other, Glass Link, is a home that embodies all the characteristics of Northwest Regionalism as it rests comfortably on its forested site, a retreat for the residents.

As a native of the Pacific Northwest, what does regionalism mean to you and your work?

Creating spaces that are fun, energetic, timeless, and comfortable that respect the natural environment. This is how we all hope to live in this beautiful part of the country and ideally our architecture can complement it.

You’ve built up a notable body of residential work. What are some major takeaways from designing homes?

I am always trying to simplify designs to their essence. I try and get inside my clients’ head, to understand how they want to live in the space and how to create something specific to them.

As you look to the future, are there any ideas you think should be front and center in the minds of residential architects?

Being better stewards to the earth by designing homes that respond to the specific environment, are more compact, and are energy efficient.

Favorite architectural detail of your childhood home?

The swing set, and that mysterious clothes chute in my bedroom.

Favorite way to spend a weekend in the Northwest?

Backpacking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

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