a large house with lawn chairs in front of it.
Jan 10 2019

Spotlight on Suncadia Featured Architect: 4D Architects

Building a custom-designed home probably ranks high on every homeowner’s dream list. At Suncadia, we know how important it is for members of our community to build a home they will love for years to come, one that fits their lifestyle and that they are happy to come home to weekend after weekend. That’s why we have partnered with some of the best home builders and architects in Washington. Meet Barbara Pickens, Principal at 4D Architects.

Founded 34 years ago by Seattle architect Barbara Pickens and Eastside designer Ben Mulder, 4D Architects is noted for exceptional creativity and commitment to quality design. The architects work with each client to consider design choices that are both cost-effective and sustainable in terms of energy and resources. “Each design is customized to respond to our clients’ goals, as well as the attributes and constraints of the site,” says Barbara. Here, she talks about the design process, her practice and building dream homes in Suncadia.

Design Practice

We tend to gravitate towards contemporary styles. The Suncadia area brings a set of conditions that lead to some specific design forms and throughout the years that we’ve worked in the community, we’ve been able to merge our contemporary style with these necessary forms. We introduced the first modern style of cabin to the area; we created a passive solar design in 2006 for a more progressive client; and have designed some timber homes with very fun rooms inside and out. More recently, we designed some shed roof homes that will bring a more modern look to the neighborhood.

One thing that sets us apart from other architecture firms is that we do the structural framing design ourselves, which allows us to better integrate the mechanical, plumbing, and other needs into the design while still creating beautiful interiors. We also enjoy working with contractors and want to foster a good relationship with them throughout the design and construction process. Overall, we are team players, very thorough and never shy away from difficult design challenges.

Understanding the Client

We like to hear about our clients’ family patterns—how will they use the cabin or home? What activities do they enjoy? How many guests might be there on any given weekend? How will their family life evolve over the time they own the home? We ask the more mundane questions about size, number of bedrooms, budget, etc. We always discuss design styles, taking into consideration what they like and what they are open to. It’s important to us that our clients love the homes they’ll be living in throughout the changing life cycles. If they’re open to unique design features, great!

Keys to Designing For Suncadia

Designing for the local climate is a necessity so we study the summer and winter sun path, the snow patterns, the wind conditions, and of course, the geometry of the land. We also consider the slope of the driveways and try to locate them where the sun might help melt the snow. We also consider the existing trees and native vegetation.

Trending Client Requests

The most often client request is for great outdoor living spaces. They want covered porches that they can use year round, throughout the changing seasons. They want to be outdoors and often want outdoor kitchens. We’ve been so fortunate to have clients that vary greatly in their goals and their design tastes so I feel that I learn something new from each of my clients and appreciate the opportunity to work with them. Together, we create unique and fun homes to be used for generations.

Dream Home

I think my dream Suncadia home would include a very informal plan. The main floor would be open with a large kitchen area and a room that would allow for many different activities, from dancing to watching videos. I would need to have three to four bedrooms with at least one on the main floor. I envision vaulted ceilings and high clerestory windows to bring natural light from two or three directions into all of the main rooms. I would have a series of shed roofs with a minimum of 3/12 roof slope in order to give the snow a chance to move off the roof. And of course, I would have a large covered patio. I could go on but the joy of this profession is to help our clients realize their own architectural fantasies.

Interested in learning more about custom designing your home or viewing a home designed by 4D Architects? Contact a member of the Suncadia sales team at 509-649-6000.