Making the vision become reality by doing as much as they can themselves. That’s the goal, drive, and working thesis of newly formed Boston firm Zephyr Architects. For Jason Arndt, Ryan Link, and Chris Prudhomme, their firm and its sister construction management outfit, Forge Construction, are redefining the architect’s role in the construction process. It’s the “proximity to the completed project” that Arndt recognizes as key to maintaining the architect’s vision throughout. Traditionally, it’s been the general contractor who holds that power. By stepping into the construction management role, not only has this trio found a way to return decision-making influence to the design professional, but they’ve also seen an explosion in demand for their services as clients recognize the value of this arrangement. Still a young firm, Zephyr is currently engaged in a fair amount of spec work with a variety of residential projects either completed or in progress – both single-family and small multi-family. Additionally, the firm is engaged in several projects in the CM and/or OPM role which, as described above, are dynamically changing the nature of their practice. Read below for a Q&A with Ryan Link, a firm principal, for more on how Zephyr Architects and Forge Construction are changing the nature of practice.
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The Neue Guild [NG] What is your area of design expertise?
Ryan Link [RL] Zephyr specializes in architect-lead design / build, which is pretty unique. That means we are architects and designers first, and support that position with in-house construction management or owner project management. We are a licensed architecture firm, and see ourselves as a comprehensive design group that takes on all aspects of a project–from industrial design up to the full architectural package–and carries that work through to completed construction. We think the master-builder model is a healthier option for everyone involved–especially our clients, and we’re developing software to grow that model.
NG How did your firm begin?
RL Jason planted the first seeds in 2015 and has been very successful cultivating projects, collaborative investors, and clients. The three of us always wanted to work together, so when Chris and I joined Jason, we quickly expanded into the D/B realm and hit the ground running. We are happy to be working with great people on a range of project types, and we’re excited by the difference we make in finished project quality by acting as master builders rather than “just” architects (though we still do that, too).
NG Do you have a favorite part or phase of the design process?
RL One of the great things about our partnership is that we have complimentary skill sets. Each of us has a different favorite part, so I’ll just say we love designing and delivering projects to our clients that exceed their expectations
NG What’s an area of design with which you’re unfamiliar but would like to be more familiar?
RL We have a range of work in what I would call the middle scale, so we want our practice grow into designing at both bigger and smaller scales. Jason and I have backgrounds in tall buildings and urban design, and Chris is really excited by the smallest components of a building. The master builder theme is present again.
NG What inspires your work?
RL We are inspired by being able to really look after our clients without losing sight of our internal design aspirations. Inspiration comes in many forms, but a big one is being well-informed. We are strong advocates for great contemporary architecture, and our project delivery is highly responsive and agile to enable that. An important goal for Zephyr is to be able to be hyper-aware of the construction process (cost, contracts, tectonics, scheduling, etc.), so that we can surgically guide decision making in the first project proposals so things run smoother throughout. It’s liberating to have contracts that help us produce great architecture, and to deliver projects that are uplifting to our clients.